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Henry Hill Red, White and Blue

Henry Hill: Former SNP leader demands nationalists attack 'southern cancer'

Henry Hill is a British Conservative and Unionist activist and writer. Follow Henry on Twitter. He is also editor of the non-party website Open Unionism, which can be followed on Twitter here.

Former SNP leader calls on Salmond to go negative and challenge ‘southern cancer’… and all whilst calling Better Together ‘racist’ for their negative, ‘anti-Scottish’ campaign

In a report described by a Yes spokesman as “an interesting contribution”, former Dundee East MP and SNP leader Gordon Wilson awarded the separatist effort a mere three out of ten (against Better Together’s four), and accused it of taking a ‘homeopathic’ approach to the role of Scottish national identity in the debate.

According to Wilson, the SNP should try to win the ‘moral support’ of northern England before launching an all-out assault on the evil, prosperous south and its dread capital, London. Or as he put it, “Scotland, with the moral support of the North, should strike at the southern cancer”. Quite why Northern England would want to make common cause with the SNP in getting six million mostly social-democratic voters off the Westminster roll isn’t stated.

Despite giving the unionists credit for being better organised, he claimed that they had overreached and run a campaign “disparaging to the point of racism”. I can’t find any record of unionists referring to nationalist Scots as a cancer, though.

Even if they can’t bring themselves to condemn his language, Yes Scotland ought to take Wilson’s recommendations with plenty of salt. He led the party from 1979 to 1990 and oversaw two poor general election performances, so his record hardly stands up to Alex Salmond’s.

Clash between Welsh Assembly and UK government over rural wages bill

Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, has referred a Welsh bill to the Supreme Court, arguing that its measures fall outside the Assembly’s competence.

The legislation, which gave Welsh ministers the power to set agricultural pay, was intended to guarantee agricultural wage levels (which are apparently set centrally and above the minimum wage) following the abolition of the Welsh Agricultural Wage Board (AWB). The Welsh government had opposed the abolition of the AWB but was unable to block it as it covered mainly reserved employment issues rather than agriculture.

It will now take several months for the challenge to work through the Supreme Court. An earlier UK government challenge to an Assembly bill, this time on local government, was defeated by the Court. A Plaid spokesperson argued, naturally, that a defeat for the Welsh administration would be clear evidence of the need for more powers in Cardiff.

No Silver Bullets: Better Together warns against complacency after US pollster’s intervention

His findings were a source of hope to Democrats – and deep concern to Republicans – during the US presidential election. Now US polling wunderkind Nate Silver has weighed in on the Scottish independence referendum, to pronounce that the nationalists have ‘virtually no chance’ of winning.

Naturally this has upset the Yes camp, as well as pundits who, like their US counterparts, dislike the notion that the study of polls well in advance of a major political event can predict it so accurately as to take all the fun out of it.

But the Better Together team, far from taking public comfort in Silver’s remarks, has warned that doing so would be a ‘dangerous mistake’. One of the big concerns of the pro-Union campaign is that its voters and activists, lulled by confidence in a ‘No’ victory, won’t turn out and give it their all in the actual campaign. From that perspective, the idea that Silver’s predictions make a No win almost inevitable is the last thing they needed.

Unionists demand investigation into Sinn Fein MLA and Castlederg rally

Unionist politicians from the DUP and TUV have asked Stormont’s Commissioner for Standards to investigate Gerry Kelly for his attendance at a Castlederg rally in remembrance of dead republicans – including two IRA terrorists killed by their own bomb, raising concerns about the ‘glorification of terrorism’.

Others have challenged the parades commission and PSNI over the loose restrictions placed on the event. Listed breaches include the depiction of weaponry on banners and, more strikingly still, the wearing of paramilitary-style political uniforms (which, regardless of the Parades Commission, I thought were made illegal by the Public Order Act to counteract the British Union of Fascists).

Neither the PSNI nor the Parades Commission has yet taken action, although both have acknowledged and started processing the various complaints.

Scottish media ‘overwhelmingly pro-union’ and other dastardly ‘No’ advantages

For a slightly different perspective on the race, here’s an article from Al Jazeera on the ‘uphill battle’ Scots face for independence. It strikes an odd tone. The British state is accused of giving “scant support to the independence cause”, which seems a very strange complaint indeed (‘scant support’ is still more support than you’d think a state would give to the campaign for its own disintegration).

The article’s three sources – a Salmond biographer and two Yes-sympathetic authors – also imply between them that the UK’s conduct has been “a great validation” of the SNP’s conspiracy-theorist wing, that the No camp has made “almost every mistake possible” in their ‘dire’ prosecution of the pro-Union case (including the suggestion we might create a Clyde colony to save having to move our nuclear weapons, one crazed outburst I’d not heard before), and that the only reason our ghastly tactics haven’t fallen apart is a grossly pro-Union media ‘back-pedalling’ such stories.

Perhaps such shadowy forces in the UK’s corner explain Nate Silver’s confidence.

UKIP select Councillor Henry Reilly as their Northern Ireland Euro-candidate

Councillor Reilly, who leads UKIP’s Ulster wing and represents the party on Newry and Mourne council, will be the party’s only candidate, since it is a near-certainty that the province’s top two seats with go to the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Despite earlier speculation, there is no mention of his being a joint candidate with the Traditional Unionist Voice, whose own leader and current MLA Jim Allister is a former MEP with a strong local profile. However, in a non-FPTP election the need to avoid poll splitting is diminished, so UKIP-TUV transfer votes seem very likely. It remains to be seen whether or not the two parties will cooperate in other ways during the election campaign.


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