Sturgeon wishes the SNP had a less nationalist name
If she could go back 90-odd years and talk to the founding fathers of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon has said she would urge them to choose a different name.
According to The Herald, the First Minister is concerned about the “hugely problematic” global connotations of the word ‘nationalism’, which is obviously difficult for the leader of a nationalist party.
However, she adds that it would be too complicated to change the name now (especially when the ‘SNP’ brand is so well-defined after the referendum). Yet this suggests a change of name might not be off the table if and when the Nationalists need to renew themselves in opposition at some point in the future.
Writing in the Spectator, Stephen Daisley points out the irony of a nationalist claiming that their project is somehow different from, and more noble than, other people’s versions of it. Meanwhile the Scotsman told the First Minister to “re-emphasise nationalism as a positive”.
Unionists wary as Sinn Fein calls for talks to resume
Sinn Fein has called for talks on re-opening the Northern Ireland Assembly to restart at the end of the month, according to the Belfast Telegraph.
The devolved legislature has been suspended since the late Martin McGuinness walked out of his post as Deputy First Minister in the spring, eventually sparking a snap election which saw unionists lose their majority of seats for the first time in the history of Northern Ireland.
However, Unionists are reported to fear that this is merely a ‘cynical ploy‘ by the Republicans, who fear that the advantages of holding out are diminishing since the Unionist vote rebounded at the general election and Brexit hasn’t triggered any movement towards the nationalist position amongst unionist voters.
Wood sparks outrage for terrorism comments
The leader of Plaid Cymru has provoked a backlash after tweeting about ‘far right’ rather than ‘Islamist’ terrorism after this week’s attack in Barcelona.
According to the BBC the Welsh Conservatives have called on Leanne Wood to “apologise or resign” for “politicising terror so fresh after an attack”.
The nationalist leader was trying to link events in Barcelona to white nationalists and neo-Nazis in the US, and defending her stance on social media. A statement issued by Plaid described ISIS as a “fascist organisation”.
Nationalist campaign group spark fresh row over oil
Over the weekend, the pro-independence Sunday Herald ran a story alleging that Westminster mismanagement was the only reason Scotland isn’t presently enjoying an oil boom.
The paper cites “leading think tank” Business for Scotland, a separatist pressure group which purports to not be party-political but whose leadership has much stronger links to the SNP than it does to cross-border business.
Pro-UK writer Kevin Hague has published a comprehensive take-down of the Sunday Herald piece on his website, and the Sunday Times reports that the Scottish Government’s own figures are expected to show that being part of the UK has cushioned Scotland from a multi-billion pound deficit it would have faced as an independent country after the oil crash.
Judge rejects challenge to Northern Irish ban on same-sex marriage
Earlier this week an Ulster court threw out two legal cases which sought to bypass the (currently suspended) devolved assembly and introduce gay marriage to the Province, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Mr Justice O’Hara declared that it was for Stormont, and not a court, to decide social policy in Northern Ireland. The couples pursuing the case had argued that the lack of same-sex marriage law in Northern Ireland breached their right to a family life under the European Convention of Human Rights.
As I wrote earlier this week, even those who support the extension of mainland legal norms and British rights to Ulster should be pleased that these cases failed: such issues must be resolved by accountable, political bodies such as Stormont or Parliament.
In other news, Westminster has announced that it will not fund abortions at Northern Ireland’s emergency clinic. The Government has previously announced that Ulsterwomen can receive the procedure free of charge on the mainland.
High-profile Cybernat blogger arrested
Stuart Campbell, the Bath-dwelling man behind the prominent nationalist blog Wings over Scotland, has been arrested by the police, Guido reports.
According to the Scotsman he has been bailed pending further inquiries into allegations of online harassment by a woman in her thirties. Campbell is also involved in a legal battle with Kezia Dugdale, the leader of Scottish Labour, after she accused him of homophobia.
During the 2014 referendum ‘Wings’ raised tens of thousands of pounds for its campaign in support of independence, even to the point of taking out billboard advertisements on the London Underground.
Welsh Tories join criticism of bank over language policy
Lloyds Bank came under fire this week when it refused to accept a UCAS letter in Welsh in support of a Labour AM’s daughter’s application for a student account, the BBC reports.
The branch insists this was a mistake, but has come under strong criticism from devolved politicians and Welsh language campaigners. Nick Bourne, a Tory peer and former leader of the Welsh Conservatives, has supported this criticism on social media.