Hon­esty, trust and a party that fails to de­liver on ei­ther

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Comment - PAUL SIN­CLAIR

ILOVE my wife, but it doesn’t end there. If the wind is blow­ing in the right di­rec­tion, she has tipped the right amount of qual­ity mer­lot into her­self and thinks no one can hear – she says she loves me back. That is not a bad start – but it is just a start. We work at our mar­riage and one of the rules is that we don’t lie to each other.

Now, I will ad­mit that some­times the three pints I had at lunchtime can be trans­lated into just one.

Equally, she has never thrown out one of my enig­matic checked jack­ets; they just hap­pen to be stored in her mother’s garage.

But whop­pers are a no-no. In fact, one of the rea­sons I love be­ing mar­ried to her is that our mar­riage is punc­tu­ated by oc­ca­sional con­ver­sa­tions about un­com­fort­able truths. It is our strength, not our weak­ness. Hon­esty is one of the foun­da­tions of any re­la­tion­ship.

Now, we know that the SNP loves Scot­land more than any other po­lit­i­cal party be­cause it keeps on telling us so. No one could pos­si­bly love this coun­try more.

Yet the Nats have started to tell us porkies that might lead you to be­lieve they are play­ing away from home. Love some­one else. They might be hav­ing an af­fair with them­selves.

Ineos runs the re­fin­ery at Grange­mouth, Scot­land’s big­gest in­dus­trial fa­cil­ity after the nu­clear base at Coul­port. This week, it took the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to court to over­turn the ban on frack­ing.

We know that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment banned frack­ing be­cause it told us so. The First Min­is­ter told par­lia­ment last Oc­to­ber: ‘Scot­land should wel­come the fact that frack­ing in Scot­land is banned.’ That was fol­lowed up by the dear leader her­self telling her party con­fer­ence: ‘Frack­ing is now banned in Scot­land.’ Pretty un­equiv­o­cal.

What a sur­prise, then, that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s lawyer told the Court of Ses­sion this week that it hadn’t been banned and that those state­ments were merely ‘PR gloss’.

Frack­ing is not banned in Scot­land. It is not even in my mother-in­law’s garage, but hang­ing loud and proud in the wardrobe.

Now this is con­fus­ing. I do not un­der­stand why frack­ing on land in Scot­land should be banned since we have been do­ing it in the North Sea for decades.

It is a tad odd that, in a Scot­land that claims to be pro­gres­sive, any­thing new should be banned and con­demned as cap­i­tal­ist ex­ploita­tion.

If Alexan­der Flem­ing had dis­cov­ered peni­cillin last week, you could imag­ine the First Min­is­ter push­ing her self-right­eous in­dig­na­tion to warp fac­tor ten as she con­demned the idea that a child’s cough could be cured by ‘some mould found in a Petri dish’.

But that is where we are. The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has a car­i­ca­ture of the Scot­tish mind­set and thinks that gives it li­cence to tell un­truths to the Scot­tish peo­ple; play to the myth.

It doesn’t stop there. A coun­try com­manded to take pride in the idea that frack­ing has been banned is asked to froth at the mouth be­cause the UK Gov­ern­ment is plan­ning a ‘power grab’ that could end de­vo­lu­tion.

The only prob­lem is that it is not. Not one power is go­ing to be taken away from Holy­rood as a re­sult of Brexit – in fact, the op­po­site is true.

The only party that is hand­ing back pow­ers to West­min­ster is the SNP, as it dithers over the wel­fare pow­ers they de­manded in the Smith Com­mis­sion.

Nor, in­deed, is there a ‘rape clause’. The is­sue is that child ben­e­fit is be­ing capped at two chil­dren. The UK Gov­ern­ment has made an ex­emp­tion that, in the thank­fully rare case that a woman con­ceives a third child through rape, she should still re­ceive ben­e­fits.

Now the machin­ery may be in­sen­si­tive but to call that a ‘rape clause’, though it might be a snappy sound­bite, is un­true. It is in­tended to some­how sug­gest that the UK Gov­ern­ment sup­ports rape.

That is about as true as the idea that frack­ing is banned in Scot­land. But this SNP Gov­ern­ment is all about im­pres­sion – or, as its lawyer calls it, ‘PR gloss’.

If I mis­led my wife on this scale, I am pretty sure I would end up in a bed­sit with noth­ing more than my mem­o­ries to con­sole me.

YET that is the re­la­tion­ship the Gov­ern­ment is fos­ter­ing with the Scot­tish peo­ple. They hold us in con­tempt; think our heads but­ton up the back. When the First Min­is­ter tells us de­vo­lu­tion is be­ing un­der­mined, what could un­der­mine it more than her say­ing to the Scot­tish par­lia­ment some­thing her own lawyer tells the Scot­tish courts is un­true.

After the ref­er­en­dum, Ni­cola Stur­geon said she would reach out to No vot­ers like me. I don’t think she has even glanced in my di­rec­tion, let alone brushed past me.

In­stead, she has played to her base, her core sup­port – and even then seems to have mis­led them.

Re­la­tion­ships rely on trust and hon­esty. By that mea­sure, the SNP does not have a mean­ing­ful re­la­tion­ship with the peo­ple of Scot­land. Trust in the SNP? I think you will find that in my mother-in­law’s garage.

PROTEST: The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment has failed to be straight with the peo­ple on the ques­tion of frack­ing

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