Sunday Column: Scotland's descent into a one-party state continues.

By Derek W Gardiner

Last week, one of Scotland's finest historians, Neil Oliver, stepped down as president of the National Trust for Scotland. His alleged crime was liking a tweet by Conservative commentator, Mahyor Toulsi which praised a member of a sports team for not "taking the knee". But I suspect his real crime was not upsetting the latest woke orthodoxy of the day but in fact being pro-union. The SNP propaganda rag, The National, had been running a campaign of hate against him since he was appointed head of the national trust in 2017. He described Alex Salmond as a "round wrecking ball of a man, shaped only to do damage", which infuriated his supporters. They retaliated by setting up a petition after his initial appointment calling for him to be removed for being "divisive", it received 5,000 signatories with comments on the petition branding him a traitor and accusing him of not "having Scotland's best interests at heart." This week, former SNP Westminster leader, Angus Robertson wrote that the National Trust for Scotland should choose their next president "wisely", I'm sure by wisely what he really meant was an SNP supporter.

However, when supposedly impartial advisors express views in favour of independence or the SNP, they get away with it. Take for example a tweet by Devi Sridhar, a health advisor to the Scottish Government which said " “Scotland is now doing well in its response to COVID-19 which seems to anger anti-Scottish, pro-UK people (‘unionists’) who are now turning their attacks on me bc I serve on a scientific advisory group to Scottish Govt.” She also attacked Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Donald Trump in another tweet saying "It is a tragedy of history that when a serious pandemic hit the world where leadership and good governance was required, Donald Trump was US President and Boris Johnson was UK Prime Minister." Let's also look at the history of the Scottish Cheif Medical Officer Gregor Smith who tweeted in 2014 that David Cameron was "scared" to debate Alex Salmond over independence. Where are the petitions calling for these "divisive" people to resign? Why are politicians not lining up to condemn them for being political in apolitical roles?

Could it be because the SNP are engaged in a long march through Scotland's institutions and that you can't be a public official in Scotland unless you agree with the SNP party line? It seems that way to me.

The SNP seem almost certain to win the 2021 Scottish elections with the latest polls putting them on 55% of the vote. There is virtually no effective opposition to the SNP in Scotland. The three main unionist parties; Conservatives, Labour and Lib Dems fight each other for who can be the main opposition party, who can scrape off the most crumbs that fall from the SNP's table. Scottish Labour and the Scottish Conservatives have very poor leadership in Richard Leonard and Jackson Carlaw respectively and the prospects for both parties look grim.

It's time for proper unionist voice in Scotland. At the last election, unionist parties got a combined vote share of 55%. We need to harness this around one unionist party if we are to have any chance of defeating the SNP. It's time for a new party with new ideas and fresh leadership to take the fight to the SNP.

It's time to scrap the BBC license fee.

From 1st August, over 75s are to no longer to receive a free BBC license fee, they will like everyone else be forced to pay it or potentially face jail. Imagine for a moment that you could be jailed for not paying a subscription to Netflix or Amazon Prime. I know this sounds completely absurd, so why are we forced to pay £157.50 a year to have increasingly left-wing programming beamed on to our screens. Even North Korea and the Soviet Union did not force their citizens to pay for their propaganda channels.

Many of the great broadcasters of the BBC are now retired or have sadly died such as David Dimbleby and Sir Terry Wogan, even Andrew Neil, the last surviving great on the BBC line-up may have his show politics live axed. I seldom watch the BBC now, especially after their pro-remain coverage of Brexit and the decline in the quality of its programming. It is not fair to force the consumer to pay for something they do not want.

The Prime Minister should announce the scrapping of the license fee as part of his plan to shake up the country's institutions. The BBC should become like any other streaming service, you get what you pay for not what high up executives think you need to hear, then they might just have to produce better quality television or face extinction.

There is no need for face coverings in shops.

This week the SNP despots made face coverings compulsory in all shops. Why? We have been going to shops without face coverings throughout this lockdown for several months and infections continue to fall. Introducing them at this late stage makes no sense whatsoever. They cause all sorts of problems; if you wear glasses they will steam up and prevent you from seeing what you're doing, you can't communicate effectively with them and they can cause your face to heat up. I suspect this is just another of Sturgeon's ploys to be different from England.