Sunday Column: Why do the SNP keep getting away with everything?

Peter Murrell (The Times)

By Derek W Gardiner

This week many of us were looking forward to hearing the evidence of Alex Salmond at the inquiry into the Scottish government's handling of the allegations against him three years ago, we were expecting a bombshell moment where all would be revealed, however, this was not to be, Salmond declined to appear before the inquiry due to the failure of the Crown Office to publish key evidence. However, Nicola Sturgeon's husband Peter Murrell appeared before the inquiry and gave evidence which nobody thought was credible. He had previously claimed he did not know about the meetings that took place between Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon in his own home in April 2018. Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser who questioned Mr Murrell accused him of giving "false evidence" under oath. It has been suggested that charges of perjury may be brought against him but yet it has not received anywhere near the amount of media coverage I believe it would if there were allegations of perjury against, say, Dominic Cummings.

Also this week freedom of speech in Scotland, even in the confines of your own home, has effectively come to an end. The justice secretary Humza Yousef removed the clause protecting freedom of speech from the bill at stage 2 saying that he wanted to reword it at stage 3. Liam Kerr, the Shadow Justice Secretary also attempted to insert a dwelling defence which would protect people from prosecution in their won homes as is the case in Public Order Act 1986 which applies in England. However, this was defeated 7 votes to 2 with members of both the SNP and opposition parties voting against it.

The COVID crisis and vaccination programme have again provided the perfect cover for the SNP to hide a sinister agenda going on behind the scenes whether that be their actions against Salmond or their destruction of freedom of speech not to mention a myriad of other failures. The First Minister gives a daily coronavirus briefing which is the only chance the press have to ask her questions yet she will refuse to answer anything to do with the Salmond inquiry. When asked about Murrell's evidence at First Minister's Questions, Sturgeon said she "relished" the opportunity to give her evidence to the inquiry but now it emerges that this has been postponed.

We are entering a North Koreafication of Scottish politics where the press dare not ask difficult questions to the dear tartan leader, members of the ruling party can give false evidence under oath with impunity and our freedom to speak and act as we wish is curtailed in the name of stopping hate speech not to mention all the COVID powers the government now has. If there is not going to be any accountability for this then we may as well admit we live in a dictatorship.

Freedom of worship is a human right and it should not be suspended for COVID.

I welcome the news that church leaders in the Free Church of Scotland have brought an action for judicial review against the Scottish Government's cruel decision to close places of worship. Lord Baird has granted permission for a full hearing in March 2021 and this will hopefully result in the Scottish government being ordered to reopen churches in time for easter.

I wrote to several MSPs asking for the re-opening of Scottish Churches but received only a response from one MSP saying that he will work with the Scottish government to "reopen places of worship when public health measures allow". In my view this is not good enough, maximum pressure must be applied to them to U-turn. The Church of Scotland has also been pitiful in its response saying that “We do not think legal action is the right course to take when the country is under threat from Covid-19. We fully accept that the latest pandemic restrictions mean that we have to close churches again for the time being. The vast majority of our members understand and support these temporary restrictions." Do they? Not the ones I've spoken to.

How the government should have handles the pandemic

The government had a plan to deal with an influenza style pandemic which could have been easily applied to a coronavirus pandemic as both spread by droplets in the air. The document said that we should not implement masks, social distancing, lockdowns or self imposed economic disaster. It also said life should continue as normal as far as possible. Peter Hitchens goes into much more detail in his column today.

It is worth noting that New Zealand the COVID success story has now entered a three day lockdown in its largest city due to just a few cases of the virus in one family. We cannot let this be our future we've survived far worse plagues as recently as 50 years ago. This is not the civilational threat that it has been made out to be and we need to learn to live with it.

You can read the plan here. Microsoft Word - 20111103 Influenza Pandemic Strategy - Final.doc (