Malcolm Bruce writes…Whither Scottish Nationalism

The tectonic plates of Scottish politics are on the move again.

When Labour dominated politics in Scotland they were often lazy, arrogant, bullying and complacent and looked after their own. Sufficiently like the mafia to be caricatured as COSLA NOSTRA.

Labour lost its way and initially Liberal Democrats picked up ground. However, free of any obvious ideological positioning the SNP were able to move into Labour territory.

Now less than a generation later, the SNP have become the Scottish establishment and acquired an even more venal, more incompetent yet downright arrogant, complacent and nasty braggadocio.

They have consistently oversold their sustained underperformance and after 14 years in Government there is a little to show how they could begin to run a fully independent country.

Now they are riven by the most bitter of factionalism at the very top. “A house divided against itself cannot stand”.

As Scotland struggles with the effect of an incompetently managed Brexit and a pandemic that has given us the worst death rate in the world, the SNP are engaged in a bitter internal struggle for the movement’s soul.

Yet, they have the cheek to seek support to press ahead with another referendum on independence with no idea of what independence would mean or even look like.

How can a party that cannot manage devolution and is bitterly divided among itself have the gall to pretend that it can lead Scotland to anywhere but a deeply divided and potentially weaker status?

Where does that leave other parties?

We should all agree that to plunge Scotland into another referendum with the possibility of a long drawn out and uncertain and indeed unknowable outcome in terms of an eventual settlement is the height of irresponsibility in the current circumstances.

Liberal Democrats should put recovery first and commit to securing the devolution settlement and considering reform of the UK constitutional arrangements to put them on a federal footing with proportional voting for all tiers of Government. We should support those sectors of the economy struggling with the fallout from Brexit. Labour should be pressed to back this approach.

It would be helpful if the Conservatives undertook to respect devolution and not undermine it with insensitive application of the Internal Market Act. They should also explain how they were going to resolve the difficulties that have arisen as a result of Brexit.

We should all make the case that, right now, denying the SNP (and Greens) a majority is essential if Scotland it to prioritise recovery and avoid being plunged into debilitating and distracting chaos and uncertainty.

The Greens should decide whether their priority is independence or the environment.

As Liberal Democrats we know that people want to get their lives back. Nothing could make that harder than a bitter row about an unclear and uncertain future.

The SNP cannot explain how negotiations with the rest if the UK will go, how long they will take and what final settlement may be achieved. Even less can they predict  what future relationship Scotland could have with the EU or even when we could even begin to discuss it.

Independence, if it were ever to work, must be thought through and enjoy overwhelming support in Scotland and goodwill from the rest of the UK.

We are light years away from that and the SNP, whatever their aspirations have proved unfit to lead Scotland.

* Malcolm Bruce was the Liberal Democrat MP for Gordon until 2015 and was Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 2014-15. He led the Scottish Party from 1988-92 and is now a member of the House of Lords.

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38 Comments

  • Is our voice being heard in Scotland’s debate on independence? Do we have a USP to offer in it? As an Englishman contemplating unending years of brexit-bound rule by the English Nationalist, Tory Party, I look enviously to Scotland.
    Scots can choose a different future as a broadly Social Democratic, Scandinavian style, nation among fellow citizens of the European Community.
    The longstanding Liberal belief that I shared in a heavily decentralised federal system of home rule Government embracing the English regions will never happen! If I had a vote in a Scottish Independence referendum I would now vote YES.
    If the SNP win a majority the Parliamentary Elections in May we should recognise that they have a mandate for an independence vote. In the vote in 2014 the Scots were assured that voting NO would mean continuing EU membership and having voted heavily for REMAIN in the EU referendum they are now enduring a Brexit voted for by the English.
    While I would regret the end of the union, I cannot, in conscience, deny Scots the chance of making their own decisions on their future and would wish them well..

  • Peter Martin 26th Feb '21 - 12:11pm

    “with no idea of what independence would mean or even look like.”

    Take a look at New Zealand. That has a smaller population than Scotland but is independent. This is what it “looks like” because:

    1) It has its own currency. The NZ$
    2) It makes its own laws.
    3) It doesn’t share a Parliament with anyone else.
    4) It negotiates its own Trade deals.
    5) It has a “free movement” and other arrangements with Australia, but it isn’t part of Australia.

    So independence for Scotland is quite do-able. If Scotland wants it. If it doesn’t it can stay in the UK or join the EU.

  • James Fowler 26th Feb '21 - 12:46pm

    The SNP are struggling because, with the minor exception of Ruth Davidson, they haven’t had an opposition for 6+ years. The result is that they’ve had to invent one for themselves. How exactly this will play out in May is anybody’s guess, but the simple fact remains that there is one Nationalist party and three Unionist ones with varying hinterlands. I remember reading sometime ago that ‘post colonialist’ politics often took this form, with the pre-independence nationalist movement subsequently reaping a dividend that lasted for decades. Of course history never entirely repeats itself, but I think Fianna Fail and Irish politics are an interesting comparison worth bearing in mind when we think about the SNP.

  • “Alex Salmond says Scottish government is not fit to be independent and his evidence about Nicola Sturgeon would NOT have been censored at Westminster”

    “JIM SILLARS: I’ve been a lifelong SNP supporter… but the stench is such that I cannot hold my nose and vote for the party in May”

    “SNP MSP says anyone involved in Alex Salmond ‘conspiracy’ should be sacked”

    Quotes from today’s newspapers – for the first time I can recall Sturgeon is in trouble.

  • A couple of points to consider:

    If the SNP performance in government has been so woeful it seem surprising that they have won every election in Scotland since 2007 and look set to do so again in 2021.
    Mr Bruce’s argument here seems to get close to blaming the electors which is never good political strategy especially for a party which is currently in fifth place at Holyrood!

    Secondly, Mr Bruce does not analyse why support for independence has grown over the past decade. Again he seems to imply it is down to SNP marketing and the gullibility of voters. The British nationalist parties might do better to look at the underlying causes rather than being mesmerised by the SNP.

  • John Marriott 26th Feb '21 - 5:32pm

    I reckon that the answer to “whither” should be “wither”. Whether or not Scottish nationalism withers and whither it goes will probably depend on what is going on at present in the Scottish Parliament. The Alex and Nicola Pantomime is a show that just keeps on giving. There is a word that sums up the present charade and it’s hubris.

  • Peter Martin 26th Feb ’21 – 12:11pm:
    Take a look at New Zealand. That has a smaller population than Scotland but is independent. This is what it “looks like” because:

    To add to your list…

    6) It recorded a government budget surplus of NZ$ 7,508 million in 2019.
    7) It manages its 200 mile EEZ fishing waters “to provide the greatest overall benefit to New Zealanders” so “fish taken in New Zealand fisheries waters must be landed in New Zealand.”

  • I fully agree with the writer’s analysis though I am less convinced with his solutions.

    Like Labour before, too much power residing within one party is creating an abuse of power which may ultimately lead to self destruction. But we are currently some way from that destination. Self determination is a powerful emotional objective and a tedious technical and economic nightmare. The SNP strategy is to develop the former and gloss over the latter. Those who wish to preseve the union must do the opposite.

    Questions about currency, finances, EU membership and the future realationship with the the remainder of the UK are absolutely fundamental and the UK must insist that credible plans are presented before any referendum can be contemplated. The government has a duty of care towards the Scots and such safeguards are necessary. The SNP must not be allowed to bounce its constituents into political and constitutional turmoil with inadequate planning just to achieve an idealistic objective.

    The recurring theme with Scottish politics is that the main parties in the UK see Westminster as the top job and Holyrood as second rate. This sets the scene for a home grown party to run rings around the second rate main party candidates.

    This is why the SNP has been allowed to flourish to somewhere between a dynasty and a dictatorship without proper democratic scrutiny and challenge. I have exaggerated here to make the point. But the fact remains that a strong multiparty democracy in Scotland is what is needed and there is a question about whether LibDem policy contributes to UK solidarity or separatism.

  • Comparing Scotland with New Zealand is a little disingenuous. New Zealand is an island so doesn’t share a land border with any other country. It is also the other side of the world to the UK – independence was therefore a little less complicated for them.

    Independence for Scotland would certainly be doable. But would make both Scotland and the rest of the UK weaker, both economically and in terms of influence across the world. Like leaving the EU, the break up of the UK just feels like it would be a step backwards. I just wish we (or Labour to be fair) were able to make an emotionally compelling case for the union that didn’t simply echo Tory British nationalism or fearmongering. Criticising the SNP just isn’t working.

  • As a Yorkshireman who’s lived in the Lothians for sixteen years (and has a personal regard for Willie Rennie as a good and decent man), one doesn’t have to support or vote SNP to have had more than enough of what seems like a permanent first past the post Tory Westminster Government with a philosophy of small minded right wing English Nationalism. As a former Liberal MP wrote a hundred years ago, “Holding on to nurse for fear of something worse” isn’t necessarily the answer.

    Lord Bruce would do better to focus on fashioning a progressive radical alternative to the SNP – and talking if necessary to his equally dismissed Labour and Green Parties. Unfortunately memories linger of the 2010-15 collaboration with a right wing Tory Party which inflicted great harm on the less fortunate. What compelling narrative does Lord Bruce have to offer ?

    If New Zealand and Denmark can do it, so can Scotland with its natural resources , knowledge and skills….. despite all the current Salmond/Sturgeon brouhaha.

  • Nonconformistradical 26th Feb '21 - 9:46pm

    @Jeff & Peter Martin
    New Zealand is an isolated country without a major trading continent right on its doorstep 20 miles away.

    According to https://www.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_minimum_distance_to_New_Zealand_from_Australia
    “The minimum distance between the continent of Australia and the islands of New Zealand can be found between the Resolution Island lighthouse in New Zealand’s Fiordland and the Tasman Island lighthouse on Australia’s island state of Tasmania. This is a distance of around 805 nautical miles, which is about 926 statute miles, or 1490 kilometres.

    The absolute shortest distance from New Zealand territory to Australian territory is from Auckland Island to Macquarie Island – a distance of approximately 617 kilometres (383 mi).”

  • Matt Wardman 26th Feb '21 - 11:57pm

    As another Englishman I try to follow Scottish politics to some extent, and have spent most of today listening Alex Salmond’s evidence to the Holyrood Committee.

    I am not a Salmond fan, but it was a bravura performance – making many claims that if proven will have a significant aspect, and skewering various MSPs trying to make it a rerun of the former Court case. There was some good questioning, and he was given leeway to skate the boundaries of the committee’s self imposed limits.

    One claim was that he knew of extensive efforts to essentially manipulate the police investigation.

    I have seen no coverage whatsoever of the most important point – where Salmond suggested a way for the committee to access most of the evidence that the Scottish Government and many official bodies have been trying to keep from the committee.

    Salmond’s last act (literally the last 90 seconds of 6 hours) was to invite the Committee to serve a “reveal evidence” notice on his solicitor to access all the evidence held about the previous Court Actions under Section 23 of the Scotland Act – a “Section 23” Notice – which may will leapfrog all of the blockages. At least one committee member has already said they will pursue it.

    I have seen zero coverage of this anywhere in the media (other than in the comments at politicalbetting.com), though I may have missed something somewhere.

    Is it possible that Malcolm Bruce, or one of the other knowledgeable LDV contributors who know the Holyrood setup more intimately than me, can comment on the process and implications of Alex Salmond’s offer?

  • Why is it so expensive to live in New Zealand?
    The answer is simple. New Zealand is a remote island country, and most goods have to be imported. High import taxes, and the fact that many sectors lack competitors, drive up prices.

  • Maurice Leeke 27th Feb '21 - 9:44am

    I wonder if anyone else has spotted, and been sickened by, the rank hypocrisy of Tory MSPs. They have been criticising Nicola Sturgeon for months for taking an interest in Scottish Independence (the core policy on which she and her party were elected by the way) saying that she should devote all her time instead to dealing with the pandemic. Now we have an arcane debate about when she knew about her predecessors alleged sexual harassment and the Tories are devoting all their time, and ensuring that she devotes a large portion of her time, to dealing with that. Suddenly the pandemic is not so important to them it would seem.
    As the Scottish Lib Dems seem intent on selling themselves as a Unionist party, would it not seem sensible to campaign harder where the unionist voters are – in (currently) Tory held constituencies. (Malcolm Bruce suggests the opposite).
    If the Scottish Lib Dems could help get rid of a few Tory MSPs it would give us all a tonic.
    And do remember that the Tories (particularly those at Westminster) are the most effective recruiting sergeants for Scottish Nationalism.

  • It’s curious that Ruth Davidson can campaign for Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation for ‘breaking the Ministerial Code’, but kept very quiet when Boris Johnson failed to dismiss Priti Patel when she was found to have broken the Ministerial Code last November.

  • Peter Martin 27th Feb '21 - 11:29am

    “Why is it so expensive to live in New Zealand?”

    It’s expensive to live in Ireland too. Approx 15% more than in the UK. I haven’t lived in either country, but I have lived and worked in Australia. The question of whether or not it looks expensive, from an outsiders POV, very much depends on the exchange rate at the time rather than Australia’s proximity to neighbouring countries, which only changes by a few centimeters per year.

    If the Aussie dollar is high, and I can remember it being over US$1.10, then it is horrendously expensive to US and UK visitors. On the other hand if it is low , its been down to less than US$0.50 cents during my time there, then it’s ultra cheap. Aussie residents don’t notice much difference because their wages and salaries are set in Aussie dollars.

    Distance from anywhere else is really neither here nor there when it comes to deciding Scottish independence. Being near to Europe has both pros and cons for the UK. If we were further away they’d still want to sell us lots of cars but EU boats would be less keen to plunder our fishing stocks!

  • @ Matt Wardman, “I am not a Salmond fan, but it was a bravura performance”.

    No it wasn’t. It was a cringe worthy ego trip and he showed no shame… even when challenged by Alex Cole-Hamilton (who was himself required to apologise for unparliamentary language recently).

    For those of us who live with and know a wee bit about Scottish politics Salmond came across as the Artful Dodger..

  • We should go further than consider constitutional reform. We need to develop a clear plan for further devolution that satisfies the majority of the Scottish people within a federal framework. If we treat Scotland as a mature country its people will respond accordingly.

  • Now is the time to offer a deal to the Scottish people that pre-empts both independence and and the status quo.

  • Peter 26th Feb ’21 – 7:59pm………..Questions about currency, finances, EU membership and the future realationship with the the remainder of the UK are absolutely fundamental and the UK must insist that credible plans are presented before any referendum can be contemplated. The government has a duty of care towards the Scots and such safeguards are necessary. The SNP must not be allowed to bounce its constituents into political and constitutional turmoil with inadequate planning just to achieve an idealistic objective………………

    Thank you for cheering up my weekend..I laughed out loud reading this; especially the bit about, “The government has a duty of care towards the Scots and such safeguards are necessary”..
    It seems, at least to me, that Scotland were the only UK country that, in 2016, applied those sort of tests to the ‘EU membership vote’; the advantages of continued membership that, in 2014, they had been told could only be had by voting against independence..
    The SNP will not ‘bounce’ unsuspecting constituents into turmoil.. Those who vote SNP know what they, unlike UK voters in 2015 who voted for any party other than UKip, are voting for..

  • @David Raw

    We’ll see how it turns out over the next month, I guess.

    Some of the activities we have observed – censored evidence to a Parliamentary committee under one claim (‘protect the complainants’), which when compared to the uncensored version have a clearly different purpose, are – shall we say – eye-opening.

    Can you explain the possibilities and constraints of a Section 23 notice under the Scotland Act 1998 served on an individual under these circumstances? I’d really appreciate that.

  • David Evans 27th Feb '21 - 3:16pm

    It is always interesting to get David Raw’s views on Scottish politics, and his portrayal of Alex Salmond as the Artful Dodger is very canny, but it does make me wonder whether he thinks Nicola Sturgeon is the new Fagin or, possibly even more dangerous, Bill Sykes?

  • @Matt Wardman

    It looks like Salmond must be referring to information which was revealed to the defence by the Crown Office for the purposes of the trial.

    As I understand it under Scots law, this may only be used for the defence and any subsequent appeals and not disclosed or used for any other purpose. So it seems unlikely that his defence team could reveal it.

    We know that Salmond’s team tried to argue in front of Lady Dorrian in pre-trial hearings that certain evidence should be allowed to be put before the Court. She ruled that it was inadmissible and there was no appeal from his team against that ruling. This may be the same evidence.

    It seems highly unlikely that if the defence team had credible evidence of a conspiracy to obstruct the ends of justice that it would be ruled as inadmissible or that, if it was, they would not have appealed against Lady Dorrian’s ruling.

    You may recall that Salmond and his supporters previously argued that WhatsApp messages between the complainants revealed evidence of a conspiracy between them and SNP officials. In a highly controversial move the Parliamentary Committee used its powers to obtain the messages from the Crown Office only to return them almost immediately when it became apparent they were simply messages of mutual support and had no bearing on its inquiry. Rape Crisis Scotland issued a statement on behalf of the women which is worth reading criticising both the Committee and the Crown Office.

  • Nonconformistradical 26th Feb ’21 – 9:46pm:
    New Zealand is an isolated country without a major trading continent right on its doorstep 20 miles away.

    Not much benefit to the UK though. We run a near £100 billion trade deficit with the EU and even when we were a member of the EU Internal Market (so-called single market), on the EU’s own figures, it only added 0.1% a year to UK GDP. By contrast, New Zealand has a trade surplus…

    ‘New Zealand records biggest annual trade surplus in 28 years as imports drop’ [November 2020]:
    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/business/431505/new-zealand-records-biggest-annual-trade-surplus-in-28-years-as-imports-drop

    “All up, international trade has proven remarkably resilient, and that’s been a boon for a small exporting economy like New Zealand. And there are signs the recovery is strengthening,” ASB economist Nat Keall said.

  • It would not be highly amusing for the Scots if they find themselves leaving the UK with complete uncertainty about the factors that I listed and which you replcated in your comment.

    With regard to the SNP attitude towards the EU and the UK the main factor is that the party does not loathe the EU.

  • Manfarang 27th Feb ’21 – 6:38am:
    Why is it so expensive to live in New Zealand?

    Houses are expensive in New Zealand for the same reason they are here: planning permission is a state monopoly. Living costs appear to be less than the UK…

    ‘Cost of living in Auckland, New Zealand vs London, United Kingdom’:
    https://expatistan.com/cost-of-living/comparison/london/auckland?

    Cost of living in Auckland (New Zealand) is 14% cheaper than in London (United Kingdom)

    New Zealand is a remote island country, and most goods have to be imported. High import taxes, and the fact that many sectors lack competitors, drive up prices.

    Shipping costs represent a small percentage of retail prices (typically less than 5%). Absent Covid disruption, it costs less than $2,000 to ship a 40 foot container (FEU) from China to the UK. For New Zealand it will likely be similar. New Zealand also has relatively low tariffs – far less than the EU…

    ‘Import Tariffs’:
    https://www.trade.gov/knowledge-product/new-zealand-import-tariffs

    Most tariffs range from zero to 10%. These duty rates apply mostly to clothing, footwear, and carpeting. Most passenger vehicles and almost all computer software and hardware enter tariff-free.

  • Brad Barrows 27th Feb '21 - 8:31pm

    To claim that Scotland has struggled with ‘a pandemic that has given us the worst death rate in the world’ is unacceptable from someone who should know better. Scotland’s performance in fighting the pandemic have resulted in Scotland having consistently lower infection rates and lower death rates per 100,000 than England. By all means attack the SNP but don’t resort to making false claims to do it.

  • Graham Evans 27th Feb '21 - 11:04pm

    Scottish nationalists make great play of an independent Scotland joining the EU. If that were to happen trade between Scotland and the rUK would be governed by the TCA. We might not need to build a new Hadrian’s Wall but there would certainly have to be border posts controlling the movement of goods.

  • @David Raw – I haven’t watched any of the coverage of that committee and I’m unlikely to do so. But I’ve read a lot negative comments on Twitter about how it was conducted (many of them seemingly sane rather than just partisan ranting) – Alex Cole-Hamilton came in for universal stick for his contribution – apparently for asking irrelevant questions.

  • Matt Wardman 28th Feb '21 - 6:45am

    @Hireton

    Thanks for that explanation.

  • Matt Wardman 28th Feb '21 - 8:34am

    @Hireton

    To let you know I have posted your reply in a comments thread with a credit over at PB where I was asking the question.

    Cheers.

    https://vf.politicalbetting.com/discussion/comment/3282057/#Comment_3282057

  • @ David Evans Bill Sykes ? Absolutely not. I’m surprised you suggest that, David.

    @ Matt W. You ask me to explain a, “Section 23 notice under the Scotland Act 1998 served on an individual under these circumstances ?”

    Below : I hope a quote in the letter from the Procurator Fiscal on 21Feb clarifies :

    “Under section 23 (1) of the Scotland Act 1998, the Parliament may require any person to produce documents in his custody or under his control, concerning any matter for which any member of the Scottish Government has general responsibility.
    Under section 23(8) of the Scotland Act 1998 and Rule 12.4 of the Parliament’s Standing Orders, such a requirement may be imposed by a committee of the Parliament, in this case the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints.

    The Clerk to the Parliament is authorised to impose this requirement by giving this
    Notice under section 24(1) of the Scotland Act 1998”.

  • Joseph Bourke 28th Feb '21 - 1:21pm

    Malcolm Bruce begins his piece by writing “The tectonic plates of Scottish politics are on the move again.”
    It appears an apt description as Scotland moves inexorably towards a greater degree of independence possibly leaving the UK to join the European Union. The precedent is the Republic of Ireland and the common travel area that was established after the treaty of 1922.
    I think we would find ourselves on the wrong side of history in an effort to block the aspirations of Scottish people to manage their own affairs independent of Westminster, if that is indeed what we are seeing.
    The union came about in the wake of the disastrous Darien scheme backed largely by investors of the Kingdom of Scotland, to gain wealth and influence by establishing New Caledonia, a colony on the Isthmus of Panama, in the late 1690s.
    After the Daruen fiasco, the Scottish establishment (landed aristocracy and mercantile elites) considered that their best chance of being part of a major power would be to share the benefits of England’s international trade and the growth of the English overseas possessions and so its future would have to lie in unity with England.
    Scotland in the 21st century finds itself well placed to benefit from the move towards renewable energy. It was Scotland that gave us Adan Smith, the father of modern day economics. Smith was influenced by a school of thought coming from France, the Physiocrats. Steve Keen writes about the Physiocrats in this technical blog https://bsahely.com/2017/03/18/the-role-of-energy-in-production-value-theory-thermodynamics-and-dialectics-by-prof-steve-keen/
    The relevance for Scotland is that it has abundant natural energy sources of wind and tidal power and the capability to take the road of independence, if it so chooses.
    Malcolm ends “Independence, if it were ever to work, must be thought through and enjoy overwhelming support in Scotland and goodwill from the rest of the UK.”
    Just so. That goodwill must be shown by LibDems as well, even while the arguments are made for devomax/home rule as a better solution.

  • Matt Wardman 28th Feb '21 - 3:58pm

    @David Raw.

    Thanks for that comment. Appreciated.

    Incidentally, there is an article out over at PB suggesting some policies for Lib Dems, and a surprising number of people from various directions are saying – “could get my vote.”

    https://www2.politicalbetting.com/index.php/archives/2021/02/28/break-open-your-cage-and-voom-new-policies-for-the-lib-dems/#vanilla-comments

  • The issue in Scotland is over the evidence presented as part of the Alex Salmond case in regards to certain evidence that seemed to be coached. Then the enquiry that was set up became stuck in evidence or a lack thereof, it seems very complicated and the SNP does not seem to help themselves. As Lib Dems the party can position itself as healers, The SNP have done a Trump in Scotland by stoaking its base in regards to independence vote. To the point that the Ulster effect is starting to take route where it is clearly Unionists v nationalist and very little in between. However this party has got to stress its pro UK and international aspect (forget EU that’s battle is done) as a party and rather moaning and seeming to celebrate every job lost and company going, the party should be pulling together and looking and creating job ideas. Such as small loans for small and medium businesses, better support for businesses which are having problems getting money out of bigger businesses etc and tighter rules on patent and copywrite theft as well as setting international standards in regards to software.

  • Sturgeon needs the performance of her life tomorrow. Whatever happens she as been badly weakened and so have the SNP.

  • @ malc “Sturgeon needs the performance of her life tomorrow.”

    She did that, malc. She’s a bonny wee fechter and gave the imminent Baroness Davidson a real good going over at FMQ’s today.

    It’s amusing to see the Scottish Tories et al basing the attack on ‘The Ministerial Code’ when you consider the Priti Patel bullying case and being found guilty of breaking said Code. Conveniently the Johnson Government has waited until today to settle with Sir Philip Putnam (at what cost to the taxpayer ?) :

    BBC NEWS “The Home Office said the government and Sir Philip had “jointly concluded that it is in both parties’ best interests to reach a settlement at this stage”.

    “The government does not accept liability in this matter and it was right that the government defended the case,” a spokesperson said. The BBC understands the former official, who was earning more than £150,000 a year as Home Office permanent secretary, is receiving a substantial settlement”.

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