Renewing our minds

One of my favourite scenes from the Narnia novels is in The Silver Chair when Puddleglum breaks the Lady of the Underland’s evil enchantment by stamping out her fire and halting the flow of her mellifluous seductions.  The sorceress tries to make Gill, Eustace, Puddleglum and the Prince forget all about what is actually real, above ground where the sun shines and comes terrifyingly close to succeeding.

Here’s Puddleglum’s defiant speech, after breaking the spell: “One word, Ma’am,” he said, coming back from the fire; limping, because of the pain. “One word. All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one more thing to be said, even so.

Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things-trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one.

And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.

So, thanking you kindly for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”

Today, we still need to keep “renewing our minds” (Romans 12:1-2) in God’s word, allowing His truth to shape our lives.  Our attitude can so easily be shaped by a culture that prioritises self-gratification and dismisses God but this only leaves languishing in a black pit, even though it may be dressed-up with impressive technology or glitzy fashions.  As the song declares, “solid joys and lasting treasure none but Zion’s children know”.

Save lives – yes, but which ones?

“Stay at home… save lives” – the message is repeated ad nauseum but do the facts back-up the government-led media blitzcrieg?  Take the messaging about Covid-19 emanating from Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government that to tweak the slogan would be “potentially catastrophic mistake”.

Is that actually the case?  We must always remember Covid-19 is a contributory factor in the tragic death toll – the vast majority catch this virus and recover (in most cases relatively quickly).  25-50% of those who catch the bug may actually experience hardly any, or even no, symptoms – not even appearing in the overall figures. Talking-up the threat to dissuade the whole population from leaving their homes is counterproductive – witness the extra predicted 18,000 fatalities estimated in England for the next year due to cancer because of delays in getting diagnosis and treatment. See also how so many are now saying they cannot return to work without PPE.

Please remember also that the government is not in a position currently to sort-out all the lifestyle factors (i.e. obesity) that often cause Covid-19 infection to result in death. Scotland also have a lower population density than England and generally less air pollution, both factors seen to influence the spread of Covid-19. Witness how Glasgow and Greater Clyde health board recorded (as of 3rd May) 910 deaths out of 2,795, about one-third of Scotland’s total. Not for nothing, moreover, are we dubbed the “sick man of Europe”. Three-quarters of deaths were of those over 75-years-olds and only 19 in the 15-44 bracket.

Given the facts, not the spin of “Stay home, save lives”, the Scottish Government must begin immediately the “segmenting and shielding” strategies advocated by experts. Yes, these might increase the risks but this is a reasonable step to take NOW, given the dangers of keeping restrictions in place. We cannot ignore the strain this is placing on younger people’s physical and mental health, alongside the debt we are piling-up which will be paid for by future generations – the very people who are making the biggest sacrifices to protect the over-75s!

One study of 60,000 people in lockdown by University College London found that the youngest in the sample, 18- to 24-year-olds, had the lowest levels of life satisfaction, while the highest was recorded in the over-60s.

We went into this lockdown on the basis of a very suspect model. Official figures show that in the week ending 24th April, 30% of excess mortality CANNOT be attributed to Covid-19 infections – 3,312 deaths that could have been caused by delayed hospital admissions for other life-threatening conditions and other factors such as economic hardship, and mental health problems. There will probably be even more in future from the mass unemployment, recession and social unrest that is likely in the coming months if the government keeps people effectively locked in their homes. How is Sturgeon weighing all these other factors up in her calculations, such as when she breezily consigns our young people to FIVE MONTHS without proper schooling. That’s what returning after the summer holidays amounts to and is the implication of ruling-out any sort of re-opening (even partial) for 1st June? That will obviously hit the most deprived household the hardest.

Where is the inter-generational fairness? Pensioners are being protected and will benefit in future from fixed, guaranteed incomes – they always seem to be protected. However, what of the insecure, precarious, poorly paid prospects of the under-30s, saddled with unprecedented levels of debt – an extra £225 billion? That vast  that have not even brought any infrastructure boost to our country or been invested in a Green New Deal.

Now, the original rationale for lockdown was to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed. That has not happened – in fact, there is plenty of spare capacity to treat patients, so why are we at home, kicking our heels? Government is not god – it should not deciding who lives or die, that one generation is more valuable than the others. Look at the feelings of a doctor on the front-line in New York who believes that, now the Intensive Care Unit is back to normal, one of the worst-affected cities in the world should open-up again on 15th May.

Moreover, there is no unified science that Sturgeon or Johnson can hide behind – just look at the fierce debates around antibodies. Whilst in Switzerland grandparents are being allowed to hug their grandchildren, in Sweden they trust their citizens to do the right thing, giving advice, rather than dictats. So, why is the UK always assuming the worst case scenario?

What is most telling about the need to ease the lockdown is how one of its architects (Prof. Neil Ferguson) and one of its primary spokespersons (Dr Catherine Calderwood), both managed to break the rules they brought into existence. Actions really do speak louder than words. Whilst I condemn their staggering hypocrisy, the clear implication is that – knowing all the available data – they understood their personal risk was staggeringly low and did not justify preclude twice inviting a friend over to their residence, or two trips to a second home.

The Scottish Government must look at all the evidence of what is and will happen to our society if lockdown is not eased. They should listen to dissenting experts and acknowledge the tough judgement calls. Sadly, these are the same individuals who have wasted the last decade arguing over the ridiculously short-sighted causes of Scottish Independence or Brexit – imagine if all that effort was poured into pandemic preparation and generally improving the health of the United Kingdom.

Still, we need to see an relaxing of restrictions in regions, sectors and aspects of life where this can make a real difference to people’s overall well-being. If the NHS was in danger of being overwhelmed again in certain localities, then (of course) tighten-up the rules but trust people to do the right thing, if given a chance. Don’t use a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

A burning injustice

The Scottish government has followed England’s example to introduce “DIY” abortions to this country.  I am gutted!

When we are being asked to make extraordinary sacrifices based on the POSSIBILITY of reducing the deaths that MAY result from Covid-19 (bearing in mind there is no certainty of an effective vaccine, it is surely impossible to keep us in lockdown forever, we don’t even know how many people have been exposed and may be asymptomatic…), why are we making the INTENTIONAL killing of an innocent life in the womb easier, removing what safeguards currently exist?

This change is happening by stealth, without any parliamentary or public scrutiny.  In Grampian and the Highlands I know – from speaking to medical practitioners – that there is considerable slack in the system.  In fact, dentists are being pressured to physically see and treat more patients who are in pain with toothache.  Just think for one moment about the monstrous injustice, the abhorrent hypocrisy of ministers claiming that the lockdown is all about saving lives when they are abetting murder.

To be clear, this change to the law also places women at risk.  The removal of any direct medical supervision overseeing the use of both abortion pills could see a rise of complications experienced by women, thus putting more strain on our NHS – having the opposite of the effect intended.

Although the Government have indicated that the designated location for the abortion will be the home, there is nothing to stop both abortion pills being taken at other locations such as schools. It is not clear how the NHS or independent clinic could ensure the pills are taken at home, and with another adult present. Indeed, there would be no control over when, where or even who is taking the pills.

There are also possible safety issues with under-16 girls and other vulnerable women taking abortion pills at home, school or other locations without the support of medical staff and possibly under coercion from third-parties.

Furthermore, this proposal poses a threat to vulnerable girls who are at risk from sex-trafficking or child-sex abuse, as the ‘home’ abortion could be used by their abusers as a means to more easily cover up trafficking or abuse scandals.

Today’s policy change by the Government goes against the very argument previously made by the abortion industry who argued that abortions should be provided at approved locations to protect women from abuse and coercion. By encouraging women to have abortions at home or other locations, the UK Government have put the health and safety of women at risk.

Remember less than 4% of 218,581 abortions in the UK (2018) occurred to “save the life of mother”, for the “benefit of already born children” or because of “fetal abnormality”. Each termination was legalised by our political representatives and financed through our taxes.

There are clear and obvious reasons why those who wish to abort their own offspring were required to go through a proper screening and care process.  Given that the abortion lobby has long sought for the lifting of these safeguards, even before Covid 19 arrived and emphasised the astounding value we place on the life of over-70s (the average age of those who dies is apparently 81), why is this happening?  962 deaths where Covid 19 is suspected as a contributing factor in Scotland (as of 12th April); 13,826 deaths, terminations of life, from abortions in Scotland (2018).  How can this burning injustice be ignored?

I would have much more trust in the government and be much more willing to follow their dictats in the name of Covid-19, if they would show even just a fraction of that concern and compassion for the lives of those unborn, for the most vulnerable and innocent members of our society.  “Who cares Scotland?” is a voluntary organisation that works with care-experienced young people – it should also be a question asked of our nation about the scandal of abortion.

What a tragedy

Maybe you’ve read reports – once again in the likes of The Guardian – about a study that claims to demonstrate few women regret their decision to obtain an abortion. Sadly, when you dig a little deeper into the methodology, there are some serious flaws with the research.

As noted elsewhere, obtaining a representative sample for this type of research is very difficult. Of all the woman eligible and invited to participate, less than 38% actually consented to be surveyed. Even worse, only 85% of that cohort completed baseline interviews (that is 956 women). Among those, 93% completed at least one follow-up interview, and 71% completed an interview in the final two years of the study.  The authors record that a mere 667 ultimately completed all the questions.

Now, why do you think there was such a high dropout rates? Well, surely those who initially, and ultimately, experienced the greatest trauma excluded themselves from the sample.  Who would want to discuss such intimate pain with a researcher? Remember, this is someone who is trained not to influence the respondent by offering any sort of feedback to their answer, whether affirming or disapproving.  The fact such a large number of the women involved appear so keen to completely forget their choice is the standout finding of this survey.

Note also that the participants were actually given $50 gift vouchers after each set of phone interview they completed successfully, which would have totalled $550 (not bad for answering what must have been rather brief questions about their emotions and the perceived rightness of their actions). Such an approach is controversial and they managed to violate one best practice guideline, which is to ensure  that participants who choose to withdraw from the research will still receive payments. By offering such an incentive did they end-up capturing those of a more mercenary, utilitarian mindset?

Anyone with any real doubts or qualms about their abortion would not consent to be repeatedly, over the next five years, asked if they regretted their decision or to reflect on how much, if any, guilt they felt.

The researchers claim this was a relatively diverse sample because about “half of participants felt that deciding to have the abortion was very difficult (27%) or somewhat difficult (27%), while almost half felt it was not a difficult decision (46%).” That’s 180 (a rather small selection) who initially found the decision “very difficult” but then we need to probe further and ask why exactly.

The questions only seem to offer “perceived community stigma” as a possibility for “regret” or “guilt”, not their views on what exactly abortion constituted. Did any of these believe the medical procedure, cast so often by the likes of Planned Parenthood as “my body, my health, my choice”, consider that they were killing another human being? Of course, if you can hide behind the fig-leaf rationalisations, there’s very little that these women would regret about apparently freeing themselves up from what is often depicted as an unwanted burden.

In fact, there have been other studies that track actual health outcomes, as opposed to a small selection of those who opt in to phone interviews, which show clear connections between women seeking abortions and longer-term health problems.  You can read 2271 (as 17th January 2020) heart-rending testimonies of US women who regret their abortion at the “Silent No More” website. Whenever are they reported across the major news outlets?  Yet as pro-abortion campaigners become more militant in celebrating the murder of innocent babies, exhorting anyone who will listen to “Shout Your Abortion”, as if it’s some proud boast, of course researchers will find more women who will be happy to report no initial, and definitely no lasting, psychological harm from that little trip to the clinic.

This is the tragedy. That life inside the womb can be dismissed as a possibility (what – even at 38+ weeks, when said baby could exist quite happily on the outside?).  It’s not about prioritsing the baby over the mother but simply affirming that both lives matter. Every human being deserves a fighting chance:

“Every life deserves a voice
Every child deserves a chance
You are more than just a choice
There’s no such thing as unplanned.”

PS – if you read The Guardian report on this survey (as of 10pm 16th January 2020), you will see they manage to conclude with “The new research follows another study, also led by Rocca, published in the academic journal PLOS One in 2015 that surveyed 667 women over a three-year period and had similar results: 95% of women said that having an abortion was right for them.” (emphasis added)

Wow – corroboration.  Only, is 667 the magic number?  Reach that dizzying height of sampling and your results will be bullet-proof?  No, of course not.  It’s the SAME SURVEY GROUP – results collated after THREE and then FIVE years, with (funnily enough a five year gap between their appearance in different journals). The women are from the “Turnaway Study, a longitudinal study examining the health and socioeconomic consequences of receiving or being denied termination of pregnancy in the US.”  The author, Lauren Aratani, spent so little time actually checking the details of these publications, she did not even notice. You could not make this level of bias up!

PPS – further research into this “Turnaway” study led to an excellent article, which makes the point that “over two-thirds of the women approached at the abortion clinics refused to be interviewed, and half of those who agreed dropped out. Refusers and dropouts are known to have more postabortion problems.”  Please read this in full to appreciate the deceptiveness perpetuated by the abortion advocacy group Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health.

“Oh… what a dis-a-star”

Well, we won’t be hearing much more of those “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn” chants. However, what strikes me most – living in Scotland and reacting to the exit poll predictions of a SNP landslide – is how little scrutiny there has been by the media of the SNP’s push for indyref2.

There has been hardly any mention of how many people, north of the border, were being persuaded to “lend” their vote to the SNP as the clear anti-Brexit voice in this neck of the woods with the best chance of actually denying the Tories seats. For example, I live in Moray – an SNP-Conservative battleground with all others parties at least 14,000 votes behind these top two. Multiple tactical voting sites and emails urged me to vote SNP, purely to stop Brexit, disregarding the fact I am more concerned about the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland than the fact I voted Remain (and, yes, would again, without hesitation). Yet how many people up here assumed this election was all about Brexit and voted accordingly. The SNP must be challenged on this point: they cannot interpret their apparent landslide in Scotland as support for indyref2.

They must repeatedly be questioned by the BBC on this point of interpretation. They said different things throughout the campaign to different groups in terms of their priorities and whatever happened to the 2014 referendum being “once in a generation”.

More significantly, how on earth can they successfully pull-off a bid for Scottish independence if Brexit is proving to be so complicated and divisive? Surely dissolving 300 years of history is much trickier than a mere 40-odd? Do they really want to saddle Scotland with more vitriol, anger and uncertainty? Will they promise to hold themselves to the standards of truth and honesty they castigated Boris Johnson and Vote Leave for flagrantly violating? What is their plan for persuading Spain (and other nations with bothersome secessionist minorities) to agree to Scotland joining the EU when this would surely be setting a disastrous precedent for the likes of Catalonia? Why should they be trusted to rule in Scotland when they have such a disastrous record on education and health, so obsessed are they with plotting independence they don’t focus on the day job.

The SNP must be asked the tough questions and not allowed to enjoy any longer the generally easy-going coverage they are receiving.  They must not be allowed to fudge these points and promise “sunlit uplands” without be forcefully reminded of what is actually happening in the wider world.

Then, there’s the ridiculous “revoke Article 50” and aim for the majority Liberal Democrats. A few days ago I listened to Jo Swinson say on national radio that her party were not putting any resources into the hundreds of unwinnable seats across the country and focusing their efforts on the areas where they stood a chance. A voter would know if a Lib Dem was NOT wasted because they would be receiving campaign leaflets emblazoned with the burning flame logo.

That same day, I received one of those very leaflets from a party that polled barely 1000 votes in Moray at the 2017 elections (compared to about 24,000 for the Tories).  They used one of those dodgy graphs – look at how we received a 7% increase in our vote share at the last EU elections!  Vote for us – we can win!  What utter nonsense.  There was no strategy or street smarts from the Liberal Democrats.  They wasted their admittedly limited air time touting a policy to revoke Article 50 and completely ignore the 2016 referendum, which so clearly violated all normal principles of democracy.  What a wasted opportunity.

The pro-Union parties in Scotland need to sort out their priorities and focus on the realities facing us.  We cannot let our beloved nation sleepwalk into secessionist purgatory.  Please don’t think the SNP rule this land.

Those who fail to try

Once again, The Guardian new juggernaut manages to misrepresent and demonise genuine pro-life efforts.  One of their journalist, Jessica Glenza, recently an article titled “Ohio bill orders doctors to ‘reimplant ectopic pregnancy’ or face ‘abortion murder’ charges.”  She states directly that the legislation “requires doctors to ‘reimplant an ectopic pregnancy” into a woman’s uterus”. However, nowhere in the print of her diatribe does she disclose that lines 5375 to 5378 of the bill explicitly state physicians should “take all possible steps”, which “include, if applicable, attempting…” (emphasis added).
Those words are crucial caveats that make clear a doctor’s responsibility is that they should to seek to preserve life.  If they fail in that noble quest whilst trying then fair enough but if they fail to try because they believe life in the womb has no value, then that is clearly a different matter the law seeks to address.
Ms. Glenza does include the tweet Dr Hackney that includes those details but in very small text and she seems content to push a narrative from pro-abortion activists without examining the facts.  Once more, I ask, how can a news outlet with the tagline that “facts are sacred” permit such egregious examples of inaccuracy?
Consider also the numerous medical breakthroughs made through the centuries that were once thought “impossible”, whether blood transfusions or triple heart bypass surgery.  How does such progress happen?  Because doctors refuse to write-off human life and seek to provide the best possible care for their patients.
All of which reminds me of a favourite quote: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” (Theodore Roosevelt).
May doctors be encouraged to commit to seeking save every life, especially those at the beginning of their adventures, who have no voice to speak in their defence but surely deserve a fighting chance.

Fixing Facebook (& the Internet)

I’ve been mulling over the problems on social media platforms and I believe it’s important Facebook (shorthand here for all social media sites) does not restrict or diminish the experience for legitimate users.  For example, limiting display of likes or the reach of shares, which might help cauterise the spread of fake news but also restricts the possibilities for genuine debate and grassroots movements.
Instead, if Facebook would just properly ID users, so they can be effectively banned from the network and even pursued in the real world if they do damage online, then pretty much every single problem people keep complaining about would be fixed.
Properly screening every user, asking for and checking their ID (note not necessarily displaying this to others), is the silver bullet that slays the vampires sucking the life out of social media. 99% of the bad behaviour on social media is because there are no real consequences of trolling or spreading fake news.  Plus, such a move immediately ensures that Facebook can properly enforce restrictions against children pretending to be 13 or over.  In UK we were very close to reach a “porn blocker” that would have required pornagraphic websites to verify users are over 18 before they view explicit content.  Sadly this was scuppered at the last minute but much of the infrastructure/planning would surely be applicable to unmasking the bad actors who hide behind the cloak of anonymity. 
I first proposed this at least two years ago and, whilst it seems to be generating more interest in certain quarters, it needs leadership from MK and Facebook to make this happen and would surely not be that difficult to implement. Let’s make all profiles “verified”!
Author’s note – my “Revamping Cyberspace” article of May 2018 was originally written in response to a competition looking for ideas to “fix” the internet, which I worked on in autumn 2017.

“Facts are sacred” but only when it suits

Yet again “The Guardian” seems content to ignore their own insistent by-line that “Facts are sacred” and fails to actually check the wild claims of their columnists.

The latest example is an article by Malaika Jabali taking aim at Barack Obama for critiquing the “call-out culture” and the “circular firing squads” of leftwing activism. In order to buttress her arguments from the annals of history, Jabali misrepresents black history. She claims “When Parks was forced to Detroit to retreat from the backlash against her bus boycott activism, she became a proponent of the Panthers’ self-defense demands”.  She links to a Washington Post article, which is behind a paywall and conveniently inaccessible to the vast majority of her reader. However, other sources set out to correct these inaccuracies and note that Parks was a “lifelong believer in self-defence“, citing several examples from her time in Alabama.

In terms of the Panthers, their approach really does deserve to be properly understood: “The Panthers decided to take up their constitutional right to carry arms… by patrolling the police. They did this at a time when severe police brutality was common – the police would beat down and kill Blacks at random”. The confronted violent, racist officers with a gun in one hand and a law book in the other. When their “brothers” tried to join them, purely for the prestige of carrying a gun, they explained that the Black struggle was about much more, highlighting the importance of educating yourself and then others, about organizing the community programs, selling the newspaper and serving the people. New recruits would work in the nursery for a while, looking after the children while other members went out on party business. What a remarkably restrained, proportional policy given the horrendous circumstances, which seems different from the current “more radical politics” Jabali talks-up.

Why are the Guardian’s editors not more careful to check the “evidence” cited and ensure it actually does fairly reflect the historical record, rather than misrepresent the civil rights movement?  I have written my complaint to The Guardian and I sincerely hope they will set the record straight.

Examining Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion claim to use the non-violent, civil disobedience tactics of Martin Luther King Jr to impel governments around the world to take action against the climate crisis.  They have shut down roads, chained themselves to strategic buildings and even stood on an all-electric tube train in an effort to garner attention to their cause and be arrested in numbers that they think will overwhelm the UK’s policing and criminal justice system.  Whilst the urgency of their message about looking after our environment is undeniable, their tactics seem to miss the mark.

Listen to how MLK actually defined his struggle: “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law”

This implies that civil disobedience should be specifically targeted at egregious laws – thus, for example, the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Note also the “Freedom March”, which took place in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963 and was attended by over 250,000 protestors, demonstrating the movement’s mass support.

Rather than a context where democracy is being ignored and a specific group of people excluded from the decision-making process and treated as second-class citizens, the United Kingdom in 2019 accords every citizen 18 or over a vote and a voice.  Where, then, are the mass petitions – stalls in shopping centres and high streets across the country that sign-up supporters?  Where are the volunteers going door-to-door explaining the urgency of this crisis to real people and setting-out practical steps we can all take to reduce our individual carbon footprint, whilst influencing our elected representatives.

If this is a “life or death situation“, why is there no single-issue political party that focuses solely on averting this predicted catastrophe?  Why, if I voted and campaigned for the Green Party in Scotland, would I also be endorsing the promotion of LGBTI+ ideology on children in schools or abortion-on-demand?  Why does the Green Party not broaden its appeal by narrowing the issues and concentrating on what they claim is the defining choice before us as a species?

Extinction Rebellion seem to have skipped a few vital steps.  They have lost legitimacy and support by neglecting the importance of working through the existing political channels.  There is clearly a sense of satisfaction for those engaged in this uprising, “sticking it to the man”, but they should study how civil disobedience really works and focus on the ballot box.

A plea to the SNP

Following the recent confirmation of SNP plans to push for indyref2 in 2020, I would urge you to reconsider this stance. Surely, your party – working with others – is in a brilliant position at the moment to campaign for and achieve reform of our democracy across the board from the inside. Whether with the EU or the House of Lords, shaping a federally-structured UK or ensuring no-one’s vote is wasted by a move away from first-past-the-post to PR, there is a real groundswell for change across the British Isles. You can be part of a much wider and more satisfying revolution. To insist on leaving now means you miss being part of meaningful, far-reaching reform that strengthens democracy and fosters good government.

This is the time for statesmanship, not short-term opportunism. Maybe you could narrowly win an independence vote but look where that has left Brexiteers, clinging to a compromise fudge that pleases nobody and with the supposed benefits of freedom from Brussels receding ever-further into the distance whilst the downsides of rupturing our closest international relationships become increasingly clear. Whatever happened to waiting for the opinion polls to consistently show 55% supporting independence? Note also how one or two snapshots of what people think can be downright misleading – 53% were in favour of breaking-up Britain around abouts September 2015 but that didn’t last.

If you seek to throw-off the shackles of Westminster now, your campaign will be defined by comparisons to the Brexiteers and their shoddy tactics and bare-faced lies. If unravelling 40-odd years of history with the EU is complicated, how much more over 300 years of the Union?

Some say that if Parliament allows a second vote on Brexit, then this sets a precedent for the SNP. However, there is a fundamental difference when confirming a decision to Leave, with a precise knowledge of exactly what the exit deal actually looks like, and knowing that following through with what the 52% wanted back in 2016 will bring major disruption to the status quo. Don’t forget also the brazen deceit of Vote Leave, from £350 million per week for the NHS to claiming Britain was about to be swamped by Turkish immigrants. In those circumstances, one is entitled to ask the people, “are you really sure?”

Scotland, on the other hand, doesn’t need another divisive debate and vote on an issue that was settled “for a generation” (at least!) in 2014. Besides, winning a majority of seats in our first-past-the-post system cannot be seen as an endorsement for one particular cause when the calculations each individual must make in the polling booth are much more complex. Wasting more energy and money on debating another border just seems appalling when there are so many more important issues that need sorting out in our society.

I call on the SNP to take a break from campaigning incessantly for more division and instead lead the charge for reforming and renewing our democracy, starting with helping the UK to remain in the EU and make government more accountable to the people, whom they should be serving.