Sunday Column: The SNP are full of lies and empty promises.

Oliver Mundell (Dumfries and Galloway Standard)

By Derek W Gardiner

At FMQs this week Oliver Mundell MSP, son of former secretary of state for Scotland, David Mundell was ejected from Holyrood for actually providing some proper opposition to the SNP and calling out their lies. The First Minister had previously said that she would provide the inquiry into the Alex Salmond affair all the information it needed, however, the committee responsible had said that information was being deliberately withheld. Instead of asking the First Minister why she had indeed lied to parliament, the presiding officer chose to throw Mr Mundell out to uphold an archaic tradition of not calling the honour of a parliamentarian into question, few parliamentary procedures could be more ironic than this one.

Over the course of the COVID pandemic, the narrative spun by the left-wing media is that Boris Johnson is a compulsive liar who always breaks his promises while Nicola Sturgeon can do no wrong. This is a completely false narrative that must be challenged. So I have undertaken to name a few of the SNP's broken promises, promises that have been conveniently forgotten about and brushed under the carpet or promises that we're now told can only be delivered under independence.

Referendums: Nicola Sturgeon has postponed her planned second independence referendum now more times than the film Avatar 2 has been delayed. In March 2017 she said that she would hold a second independence referendum in September 2018 or September 2019, these months have now passed and no referendum has been held. After the last UK election, we were told that it would take place this year even though the SNP had no democratic mandate for it, winning only 45% of the vote. Sturgeon has never had the courage to put this before the people again because she knows that if she loses this time then it's game over for Scottish Independence. Now this proposed referendum has been kicked further down the road to hopefully never.

Universal Basic Income: Nicola Sturgeon used her daily party political briefing, still broadcast at primetime by the BBC to voice support for a Universal Basic Income. The UBI is an idea that I'm quite sympathetic to as it cuts bureaucracy and returns freedom on what to spend the money on to the individual. However, all talk of that seems to have gone away, the excuse being that the Scottish government did not have the power to implement a UBI but they do seem to have the power to give everyone self-isolating £500 and vast powers over welfare which they refuse to use because with great power comes great responsibility, and they do not want to take responsibility for Scotland's welfare system because that would mean they can't blame Westminster for everything.

Employment for young people: Recently the Higgins report was published which recommended a jobs guarantee for under 25s so far so good, being in work is always better than otherwise being on welfare but I would ask; how can you guarantee jobs when there is, no jobs? Youth unemployment in Scotland may go up to one-third of under 25s and the SNP's insistence on imposing more draconian restrictions on Scotland than the rest of the UK means that it will be harder to do business here and thus fewer jobs will be created. It is, therefore, no surprise that the "jobs guarantee" has been watered down to a Youth opportunity guarantee which guarantees employment, further education or volunteering. This seems to me like a cynical attempt to mask the true extent of unemployment by keeping young people in education rather than tackling the problem.

Education: The SNP have repeatedly said that education should not be a postcode lottery but their policies say otherwise. Aside from the exam results fiasco, fewer than three out of five children leaving primary schools in Scotland's poorest areas have the expected rate of literacy for that stage compared to 83% in the most affluent areas. Schools in the most deprived areas sometimes offer as few as five subjects that can be studied at Higher while the more affluent schools offer over a dozen. Despite various promises to fix this no progress has been made and there is even talk of cancelling exams next year. This is utterly unacceptable.

Testing in care homes: Around 46% of registered COVID 19 deaths in Scotland occurred in care homes. The Scottish government promised to test all care home workers on a weekly basis. However, there are still five day waits for test results and a large number of care home staff not being tested at all.

I could go on but it would take up much more room than I have for this Column.

Let's not allow masks to become a normal part of our culture.

It is quite unsettling to hear people talk about face masks as if they were the new seatbelt or motorcycle helmet. These are permanent measures designed to keep people safe but COVID 19 on this scale is temporary, yes, it will always be there but it should subside if there are vaccines and treatments, when that happens then we will hopefully no longer be fined if we don't wear masks on the train or in the supermarket. However, the question remains if there will be a cultural shift towards voluntarily wearing masks as there is in eastern Asia. In China the SARS outbreak in 2003 resulted in an uptick in wearing masks, the only problem is it never stopped and now it is seen as normal to do so even when there is no major health threats. In Japan, masks are seen as a way of deterring people from striking up a conversation. This is their culture and they are entitled to it but I believe this country has a different approach to masks

In Western society, we value face to face communication, body language is as important as what we say, it is also a wider issue of community cohesion. You are more likely to want to talk to and be friends with someone if they don't wear a face-covering than if they do and that creates friendly neighbourhoods and friendly communities as a result. Good neighbours can't become good friends if they are all masked up. Indeed, it was not so long ago that we were talking about banning face coverings in public, not that I would support this but it shows how much our cultural outlook has changed in just a few short months, something that to me is quite scary.

The US presidential debate shows that America is as tired and outdated as its politicians

The era of United States dominance on the global stage is coming to an end and I can't say I will miss it. The disastrous mud-slinging debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden has led many to conclude that American politics has been boiled down to two old men shouting at each other as if they were in a bar fight.

The American public has been retreating into isolation; pulling out of international agreements, withdrawing from its disastrous wars and building a wall to keep everyone else out. I won't criticise them for this, it is their right to be isolated if they want to be but its time for new global powers to defend western liberal values.

America is a nation divided along the lines of extreme leftists who want to destroy western civilisation and a patriotic and socially conservative right, this is perhaps because it has more often than not failed to live up to its own ideals; it was built on the premise that all men are created equal yet it had slavery for almost 100 years after that followed by segregation, it is a nation built on individual liberty and yet it has armed police patrolling the streets and searches at airports, it was founded on small government and free-market principles and yet it bails out banks and corporations.

Maybe the United States can better realise the form of government its citizens want if it were to break up into smaller countries some would be governed under left-wing social justice principles and others would be governed under socially conservative and Christian principles while others could be libertarian free-market republics, then we can see who has it right in that particular debate.