Following successful launches of our Dundee and Aberdeenshire branches, Restore Scotland held its very first ever branch meeting in Glasgow on 29 July 2021, at O’Neill’s Bar near Glasgow Central Station.
At the event, seven speakers addressed a range of topics, including the defence of Scotland’s national sovereignty; the SNP’s assault of free speech; the abject failure of the Scottish Government to address the drugs deaths crisis; and, the prospects for Restore Scotland and the political landscape of Scotland more generally.
‘The Intention of the EU Is to Abolish the Concept of the Nation-State’
The first speaker at the event was Andrew MacDonald from Inverness, a party member and long-time supporter of true independence for Scotland.
In 1988, he held office in the SNP at national, constituency and branch level, and was an election agent for Andrew Johnston. MacDonald was sent an agenda for the 1988 Conference in Inverness, on which were emblazened the words, ‘Independence in Europe’, something that the party had never debated. It was also unconstitutional with respect to the SNP’s own constitution, and would have required a two-thirds majority to have it approved.
When Resolution 29, which very vaguely supported the EU, was put to a vote, the conference delegates, as was the tendency at the time, looked at their favourites on the platform for direction on how to vote, and the motion passed.
In those days, the membership card of the SNP bore the legend that the raison d’être of the SNP was the restoration of national sovereignty for Scotland.
“It is my view that the intention of the EU is to abolish the concept of the nation-state,” said MacDonald.
After the 1988 Conference, over a hundred members of the pro-sovereignty wing left the SNP, and signed the Sovereignty 90 Charter. This was followed by the Declaration of Inverness, which was signed by over 160 supporters, and which sought to uphold the principles of the Declaration of Arbroath.
In more recent times, even SNP’s historic commitment to a referendum on the EU has been quietly dropped. In addition to expressing his dismay at the Hate Crime Bill, Andrew was scathing about the present-day SNP:
“It’s a cabal that’s running the party at the moment!”
‘Scottish Politics Is Reaching an Implosion Point’
Defections to Restore Scotland over the past few months have come from a range of parties, not just the SNP, but although founded only a few weeks after us, even the Alba Party has already lost at least one member to us.
And not just any member.
Jamie McGowan, a PhD student in Constitutional Law at Glasgow University is one of Scotland’s foremost up-and-coming legal thinkers. As a practising Catholic, he struggled to get on board with many of the social views of the mainstream parties. In addition to support Scottish independence, he is profoundly opposed to the EU, a conviction that he came from actually working in Brussels.
In sad reflection of the intolerance common to parts of the independence movement, he was previously ousted from Young Scots for Independence for holding standard views on abortion and other social issues.
However, far from representing a major break from this radical agenda, the Alba Party turned out to be little more than “SNP-lite”. “They essentially took the SNP Manifesto, and tweaked the bits of it that they didn’t like.” McGowan quickly came to the conclusion that the Alba Party wasn’t going anywhere.
“Looking the manifesto of Restore Scotland, however, I couldn’t really find anything I disagreed with, with its socially conservative and economically social leanings. A respect for human life, the value of the family, and common good of the people of Scotland: all of these were things I could stand for.
“Scottish politics is going to a point of implosion,” Jamie concluded. “We need a party that can break the monopoly of the SNP, and I think that Restore Scotland is the party that can do it.”
Scottish Universities Are Disciplining Students for Holding Mainstream Views
The next speaker, Lisa Keogh was a final-year student at Abertay University when she was reported for stating basic biological facts about women.
In response to a question about what defines a woman, Lisa responded straightforwardly that a woman is someone who has vagina and the capacity to reproduce, something the entirety of the Scottish population, at least until very recently, would have found entirely unobjectionable.
However, in the politicised milleu of today’s Abertay, Lisa was attacked, in racist language, for being a transphobic cis white girl in response. When she dared to say in another tutorial that men are generally stronger than women, and shouldn’t participate in women’s sports, she was cut off, and told that she was neither allowed to type nor speak any more. In a subsequent lecture, she challenged the absurd claim that all men are rapists, an action that led to her being reported to the university authorities.
In the subsequent disciplinary proceedings, Abertay contradicted itself. Initially, it said that she was reported for inappropriate comments, but later said that it was the tone in which she said it (despite the fact that she was typing the comments in a Zoom meeting.)
During the subsequent inquisition, university officials asked, “Is it true that you said only women are born with vaginas?” but recoiled from answering her simple response, “Don’t you?!”
Lisa admitted everything that she was accused of, and yet the university said that there was not enough evidence to proceed with the disciplinary meeting.
Understandably, the story went viral.
“It was a free speech issue. I should be allowed to say that ‘Women have vaginas’.”
Lisa stated that her vision is for the university should be an open space, where people can state their opinion. People should be allowed to think independently. Students should not be encouraged to report each other.
“I want to make a difference. I want people to be able to say what they want. And I want to fight for the rights of children.”
‘I Drifted from One Hundred Support for Independence to Fifty-Fifty, because of the SNP’
While Restore Scotland is one-hundred percent committed to full independence for Scotland, we understand why many are nervous about the prospect of a Scotland ruled by the SNP.
Neill Shaw, a charity worker from Renfrewshire spoke eloquently about why he was nervous about independence for Scotland under the present circumstances.
Neil berated the Scottish Government for its eagerness to trash Scots’ civil liberties in response to Covid-19, liberties such freedom of association, freedom to religious worship, freedom of movement, and freedom to own property.
In an overview of the party’s five pillars, he stated his view that the sanctity of human life is essential for the enjoyment of civil liberties, and the value and integrity of the family is important for supporting autonomous virtuous environments, where progress is encouraged.
“Like with pregnancy, you can’t be independent if you’re only half-independent. On 23 June 2016, I was 51-49% in favour of leaving the European Union. Since then, I have moved to 100-0% on leaving the European Union, because of the EU’s intransigence, their arrogance towards Northern Ireland, our lack of autonomy over our seas, their bureaucratic and technocratic tendencies, and particularly the EU’s autocracy. Ask the people of Greece, if you want to find out about that.”
“On 18 September 2014, I voted Yes to leave the United Kingdom. I was convinced that that was the right thing. Since that day, I have drifted down from 100% support to a 50-50 position. This happened for one reason: the SNP.”
“They would take us back into the EU, leaving the Scottish people with less freedom, less autonomy and less control,” Neill continued.
“We would become the financial serfs of Germany and France. Between the SNP and the EU, these aren’t the people I want to have running this county.”
“The First Minister postures with grace and gusto while presiding over one of the highest death rates in Europe.”
“Their greatest hits on the legislative side include ‘The Offensive Behaviour in Football Act’, the Named Person legislation, or ‘The Hate Crime and Public Order Act’, making freedom of conscience an offence, which had the effect of uniting even the Christian Institute and National Secular Society.
Neill charged the SNP over its failure to administer the education system adequately, its tendency to attract dubious characters, and its pursuit of Alex Salmond.
However, his closing words expressed hope in the people of Scotland, and that in that regard, the prospect of an independent Scotland should not make any Scot nervous.
‘The Majority of Our Treatment Services Put People on More Drugs’
The day after our Glasgow branch meeting, the Scottish Government announced a highest ever number of drugs death victims in Scotland, a scarcely believable 1339.
Drugs campaigner, and CEO of Favor UK, Annemarie Ward spoke to the meeting about the failings of the Scottish Government and local authorities, and what is needed to provide effective recovery from addiction.
Thirteen years ago, Anne-Marie set up a charity to challenge preconceptions around addiction. Since 2009, around 50,000 people have taken part in their walks to push policy on both the Scottish and UK Government about drugs deaths.
In her view, alcohol should be considered together with drugs: five times as many people die from alcohol overdoses than do from drugs.
“Sixty-nine thousand people have been registered as having an alcohol problem. When she started campaigning there were 14 beds. There are now 18 rehab beds.
“The majority of our treatment services do not get people off alcohol and drugs. The majority of our treatment services put people on more drugs.
“The Scottish Government announced £225 million in investment overall. They dished out £5 million to see what the councils would do with it.
“We produced a report call Residential Rehab Summary. Turns out they spent it on travel vouchers, on admin staff, on drugs, but not one pound was spent on rehab beds. They were given the money for rehab, but the local authorities have not fulfilled their mandate.
“The Scottish Tories are obviously backing us for political reasons, but the Tories have always got this issue. They want people to get well and be contributing, productive members of society again. They have been really useful. They can do a kick in the baws that we cannot do.”
“It’s poor people that are dying, and poor people ‘don’t vote’.”
“This drugs death taskforce has spent £20 million over the last five years, and naively gave people in recovery smartphones and tablets.”
“It’s the same leadership that have presided over the catastrophic situation for the past twenty years.”
Yet, these paid professionals have taken to referring to Anne-Marie as ‘a menace’, and the people who follow her as ‘trolls’.
According to Annemarie, the evidence for drugs consumption rooms is that they work well, where there is a high level of control. However, that’s not what’s happening in Glasgow.
“We have blue valium in the city. Some of it is being made in bathtubs. You would see this massive push on heroin, yet people in Scotland are dying from blue valium.”
“If we were to do safe consumptions purposefully in Scotland… two-percent of people would use it.”
“The initial idea for a £2.6 million for a city central drug consumption room would be a vanity project. It would need to be targeted on the areas where it’s actually needed.
“In Copenhagen, you can get transported to rehab within the hour. You can’t just give people drugs to consume.”
“In England, there are four times fewer deaths. The main reason is that the NHS controls drug treatment in Scotland. Addiction is a bio-social-economic condition. It needs to be moved away from the NHS, bringing people from third-sector organisations as is done in England (most of whom are run by Scots.)
Annemarie ended with a call for party members to come and hear the voices of those suffering from the drugs deaths epidemic.
‘I Am a Hardline, Uncompromising Scottish Nationalist’
The next speaker had a momentous announcement: Jim Fairlie Snr., one Scotland’s most respected economists and the former Deputy Leader of the SNP announced that after years in the party political wilderness, that he was joining Restore Scotland
“I am a hardline, uncompromising Scottish nationalist. Freedom means everything. You can’t be free, unless you’re independent.”
As a teenager, Jim campaigned for Scottish independence, and has been campaigning for it ever since.
“We’ve got to the stage now where people don’t know the difference between independence and interdependence.”
The ignorance of political theory of the current SNP leadership is a cause of particular disappointment. “I’ve heard senior people in the SNP say recently, that in this interdependent world, there’s no country in the world except North Korea that is independent.”
Jim has asked all the SNP leadership, how the nineteen members of the Eurozone, with no currency, no central bank, no control over the economy, can posssibly be considered to be independent, to which there had been no answer.
“In the SNP, independence was the last thing they were interested in.”
He spoke about his concerns about the Scottish Constitutional Convention at which single organisations represented had denied that sovereignty rested with the Scottish people, stating instead that sovereignty rested with Westminster. During the Sillars Fairlie debate, by four votes, the SNP sided with the Convention. “People were told to continue to participate, they must deny independence. I decided to leave.”
“There was no other party that viewed sovereignty the way I did. It’s a concept that people in this country don’t understand because they have never had the chance to exercise it.”
“In Scotland, sovereignty rests with the people. The Scottish people said to the Pope, that if Robert the Bruce fails to promote our interests, we will elect another.”
“If we can’t as Scots adhere to the very principles on which dour nation was built, then I despair really.”
“The phrase was coined in Dundee, the “double-ooters”. I am for the first time for many years, happy to be able to look at a group of double-ooters. The only thing that is of concern to me is that the sovereignty of the Scottish people will be first and foremost. Policy will be determined by the members. The country that Scotland turns out to be, may not be the one that I like. But that’s up to the people of Scotland.”
‘I Can’t Bring Myself to Believe that the SNP Aren’t Serious about Independence’
The next guest, Kevin McKenna is one of Scotland’s most highly-regarded journalists, a columnist in both The Herald and The National.
“The SNP want power,” stated McKenna, adding after a long pause, that he can’t bring himself to believe that the SNP aren’t serious about independence.
“The biggest con-job in Western democracy? I don’t think they are. I think they’re more serious about other things. The eighty-three grand a year: that’s far beyond what some of the chancers could expect to earn outside of parliament.”
He lamented Pete Wishart’s Stockholm Syndrome. “They’ve fallen in love with Westminster. The booze is cheap. The division bell is actually in the bar. There are televisions in the bar so that they could actually see when there is a vote.”
By contrast, the Scottish Parliament doesn’t encourage drinking after 6pm, noting that it was deterring women from entering politics.
Quite a lot of the business in Westminster was done in pubs where the “booze is cheap”.
“If the SNP win the next election, they will have been in power for a quarter of a century. The longest unbroken tenure of power in Western Europe.”
Kevin pointed to the “world-record pensions” of SNP officials as distracting from serving the people of Scotland, and leading to people buying second homes.
“I would be affected as well. When you’re in power, you surround yourself who are only going to tell you what you want to hear. That’s the problem with Nicola Sturgeon.”
“The last Scottish election was a distorted reality. They’ve promised independence, hence all those tweets. “
For McKenna, the SNP are the only game in town because of the poverty of the opposition.
“I don’t know anyone that votes for the Greens (sorry, my two daughters do.) Labour only won two seats FPTP. They’ve been distorted down. They don’t have an ounce of original thinking.”
“The constitutional question has completely distorted Holyrood.”
“The SNP will probably still end up been in the positions of power. They will find serious positions in an independent Scotland.”
“I would love to see a party like Restore Scotland being in business. I would love to see you attract some of those people who are being attracted to Alba. I don’t have any truck with Alba….”
“A party like this could, but I can’t overestimate how much influence the SNP has.”
“Look at the amount of advisers that the SNP had in 2007 compared to now.”
“The civil service can’t cope with the SNP blurring of the guidelines.”
“I can’t see the SNP delivering a referendum,” stated McKenna, expressing pessimism about the prospects of an IndyRef2, and disappointment about the lack of planning for independence. “They haven’t done any work on this, on a new currency.” “The SNP are not investing any serious thought in this.”
“The only people who don’t like referendums are the political class.”
The control freakery of the SNP hierarchy was also castigated by McKenna. “You can tell there is a central intelligence that is dictating messages. … Whatsapp groups that are dictating everything.
Although not necessarily a supporter of remaining out of the EU, McKenna has sympathy for eurosceptic voters.
“I voted Remain, but I sympathise with ordinary Scots who were patronised by “lefty elites” who dismissed them as racists. It will take a long-time for Scotland for rejoin the European Union.”
He expressed agreement with economist Mark Blithe’s comment that the SNP’s prospectus is now split between London for currency and Brussels for trade, a tension ripe with contradictions.
“One of the reasons they have marginalised Joanna Cherry, is because she is the recognised authority on these sorts of questions, including the future relationship with EU, because she is a better debater than Nicola. She could have got more sensible and experienced people into the NEC. Before the pandemic, Nicola Sturgeon’s poll ratings were in the toilet. Angus Robertson and Joanna Cherry were being touted as potential leaders. There’s no leadership or succession planning.
“It’s the way that power structures down through the ages have exerted authority.”
Perhaps in jest, he added, “it would take dictatorship of a one-party state to dismantle the current power structures.”
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Our branch meetings are typically members-only events, and will offer you a frontrow view of what’s really going on in Scottish society, politics and the economy.