JAN MOIR: Sturgeon apologising for killing 'witches' is grandstanding

Sorry not sorry, but apologies are all the rage. 

Whether being given or withheld, accepted or refused, apologies have become a huge, huge facet of modern life. 

For to have any hope of surviving even the tiniest public blunder, you must say ‘sorry’.

Today it is not the hardest word, but the easiest way out of a crisis.

‘Sorry, we won’t do it again,’ said Shell this week, after forgetting itself in a moment of madness (ahem) and buying a shipment of Russian oil at a knockdown price.

‘Sorry,’ said the Premier League to Everton, after a referee denied the club a clear penalty in their match against Manchester City. 

‘Sorry,’ said the rapper Nelly, after accidentally posting a clip on his Instagram account showing him in a sex act with an obliging friend.

‘I sincerely apologise to the young lady and her family.

This is unwanted publicity for her/them,’ said the Ride Wit Me star. It sure is, Nelly. 

However, some apologies, like this one, only serve to make the guilty parties feel better about themselves, and do little to assuage the wrongs inflicted upon the innocent. 

The big one on the sorry front this week was Nicola Sturgeon’s epic apology on behalf of the Scottish government for the killing and vilification of thousands accused of witchcraft between the 16th and 18th centuries

Of course, the big one on the sorry front this week was Nicola Sturgeon’s epic apology on behalf of the Scottish government for the killing and vilification of thousands accused of witchcraft between the 16th and 18th centuries.

Nearly 4,000 of them, mostly women, were arrested and tortured.

Most were executed.

‘It was injustice on a colossal scale,’ said Ms Sturgeon, who for once was not talking about her latest haircut. 

Or some perceived Anglo-Tartan affront at the Tebay Services on the M6 when an English motorist got served his hot sausage roll before a Scottish motorist who was there before him. 

To be fair, the persecution of witches was a bad business and no mistake.

That’s what you get in Scotland, then and now, for wearing a pointy hat and giving someone ‘a funny look’.

Yet spool back a few hundred years earlier and you will find even more historical horrors. Some 10,000 Englishmen — estimates vary —were killed at the Battle of Bannockburn but don’t expect a cheep of apology about that.

Yes, Scotland was fighting for its freedom back then, but instead of historical remorse for blood spilled, this event is cherished as a rare victory against the English oppressor. 

Witchcraft laws passed by James IV of Scotland led to a nationwide search for witches that became known as the Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597.  Around 200 'witches' are believed to have been killed in the 1597 witch hunt. The other Great Scottish Witch Hunts took place in 1590-91, 1628-1631, 1649-59 and 1661-62

Witchcraft laws passed by James IV of Scotland led to a nationwide search for witches that became known as the Great Scottish Witch Hunt of 1597.  Around 200 ‘witches’ are believed to have been killed in the 1597 witch hunt.

The other Great Scottish Witch Hunts took place in 1590-91, 1628-1631, 1649-59 and 1661-62

It is even celebrated in song to this very day, as in the line ‘sent him homeward, to think again’ in our unofficial national anthem, Flower Of Scotland.

I’ve always thought this unworthy of Scotland: an ongoing gloat too far, a musical micro-aggression.

Never mind witches, there is so much more Nicola should be apologising for.

So much. 

The Bay City Rollers. The amount of sugar in one square inch of Scottish tablet. The Wembley Goalposts Incident. 

The state of the Scottish Health Service. Ferries, lack thereof. Krankies, surfeit ongoing. 

But no, here we are, ignoring the self-inflicted disasters of the present to make ourselves look pious and grand by apologising for the sins of the past.

The problem is that whether it is for a slight on social media or a historical incident, public apologies are now so commonplace that they are in danger of becoming an irrelevance. 

Never mind witches, there is so much more Nicola should be apologising for. So much. The Bay City Rollers (pictured above). The amount of sugar in one square inch of Scottish tablet. The Wembley Goalposts Incident

Never mind witches, there is so much more Nicola should be apologising for.

So much. The Bay City Rollers (pictured above). The amount of sugar in one square inch of Scottish tablet. The Wembley Goalposts Incident

Jubilant Scotland fans demolish the Wembley goalposts after seeing their team win 2-1 and retain the British Home Championship in 1977

Jubilant Scotland fans demolish the Wembley goalposts after seeing their team win 2-1 and retain the British Home Championship in 1977

Once received, the grandstanding apology is quickly dismissed because it serves no function at all.

‘Minister, will you apologise?’ is the refrain that frequently follows erring politicians as they scuttle around. 

The outrage and clamour is at the same fevered pitch, whether or not the miscreants have forgotten to pay a parking ticket, had an affair with Gina in the office or indulged in an ‘egregious case of paid advocacy’ by lobbying for companies on the quiet. 

That is why I almost — almost!

— admire John Bercow, who has bullishly refused to apologise for being a bully, even if it just goes to prove that he is indeed a total bully.

We live in an age of supposed transparency and accountability, where fulsome regret must be expressed for both the smallest misdeeds and the greatest crimes against humanity. 

That is why an apology to these thousands of long-dead non-witches, killed by the ignorance and savagery of another age, becomes ultimately meaningless. 

We don’t need preposterous, posturing Nicola Sturgeon to tell us it was wrong — we know it in our own bones.

The same applies to apologies for the slave trade and any other historical injustices down the years; terrible miscarriages of justice that our increasingly enlightened forebears took pains to put right.

It is all part of our glorious development as a civilised nation and we should be proud of ourselves, not snivelling in the corner over medieval misdeeds.

All this glutinous contrition, what good does it do?

It has a depressing effect rather than an uplifting one. 

Everyone is sorry for everything all the time, but no apology ever feels like it is enough. It just makes it harder to separate the sincere from the cynical — and I’m sorry about that.

 

Why listening to Kim’s advice is such hard work 

Nobody asked her, but Kim Kardashian has been giving advice to businesswomen and women in the workplace. 

‘Get your f***ing ass up and work. It seems that nobody wants to work these days,’ she said. 

She also advised us slackers to ‘surround yourself with people that want to work.’

Anything else, O wise one? 

Yes.

Apparently, it is important to have a ‘good working environment where everybody loves what they do’ and ‘don’t work in a toxic work environment’. 

She doesn’t understand that a lot of women simply don’t have that choice. Toxic or not, they just have to get on with it. 

Just like her eyebrows, she seems to have lost touch with reality. 

Nobody asked her, but Kim Kardashian has been giving advice to businesswomen and women in the workplace

Nobody asked her, but Kim Kardashian has been giving advice to businesswomen and women in the workplace

Kardashian is a billionaire who started off by making a sex tape, then appearing on a reality show and then launching multiple beauty and clothing brands, including a lingerie range called Skims. 

She is said to receive a million dollars per Instagram post, but that is not to say she hasn’t suffered. 

‘It’s really hard,’ she said, of posting lifestyle items on her social media.

Kim, try working a few shifts in the Turkish factory that makes your knickers, then get back to me. 

What is particularly funny is that she clearly sees herself as some sort of gutsy Cinderella who dragged herself out of the gutter, as opposed to her cushy reality of growing up in California as the privileged daughter of a rich daddy. 

‘Success is never easy.

If you put in the work, you will see results. It is that simple,’ she insists. 

Kardashian is a billionaire who started off by making a sex tape, then appearing on a reality show and then launching multiple beauty and clothing brands, including a lingerie range called Skims. She is said to receive a million dollars per Instagram post, but that is not to say she hasn't suffered

Kardashian is a billionaire who started off by making a sex tape, then appearing on a reality show and then launching multiple beauty and clothing brands, including a lingerie range called Skims.

She is said to receive a million dollars per Instagram post, but that is not to say she hasn’t suffered

Is it really? 

Kim is clearly smart and opportunistic but wealth is not always the result of hard work. 

The lowest paid people with the least opportunities of bettering their situation are often those who work the hardest of all. 

Did Kim Kardashian really work harder than anyone else? 

She might fondly imagine that she did, but this work ethic fairy tale of hers isn’t empowering other working women, it is insulting them.

 

Groan. Is International Women’s Day over yet? 

It must have had decent intentions at first, but has degenerated into little more than women posting girl power pictures of hen nights on social media (check out these laydeez!) or D-list celebs writing slogans on their DD boobs.

Indeed, it is now barely more than a marketing exercise, with pushy companies selling female-themed ’empowered lingerie’ or special leg shavers to celebrate Women’s Day. 

We’ve come a long way, baby, but not when you consider the flower- handled pink ladies razor, sold at twice the price of its male equivalent. 

Oh God.

It’s Red Nose Day next. Is there no end to the torture?

 

Creatures from the deep 

One of history’s greatest wrecks found at last! 

What am I talking about? 

Someone unexpected on the guest list at Dame Joan Collins’s recent birthday party at Claridge’s?

No. 

The great hulk from the past was not Biggins nor Ronnie Wood, but something much more thrilling — the Endurance has been found.

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship has been discovered in the Antarctic waters; 10,000ft down.

The Endurance has lain there in watery silence for 107 years; a three-masted brigantine from another age. 

Sir Ernest Shackleton's lost ship has been discovered in the Antarctic waters; 10,000ft down. The Endurance has lain there in watery silence for 107 years; a three-masted brigantine from another age

Sir Ernest Shackleton’s lost ship has been discovered in the Antarctic waters; 10,000ft down. The Endurance has lain there in watery silence for 107 years; a three-masted brigantine from another age 

In the century that has passed on land, everything has changed for ever but down in the depths, time has stopped.

Almost.

Beautiful images show that the ship is remarkably preserved and home to a variety of enterprising creatures, who must feel like they have checked into the luxury of Claridge’s, too. 

They certainly all sound like acquaintances of Dame Joan — Living Fossils, Filter-Feeding Invertebrates and Yeti Crabs alongside Sea Squirts. 

According to scientists: ‘A Sea Squirt doesn’t do much.

It’s basically just a big sack of liquid.’

He was definitely at Joan’s party! But how wonderful that the bow is still intact and the poop deck visible as the Endurance endures — just like Joanie herself.

 

Bear witness to their suffering 

Last week I wrote about celebrities somehow making events in Ukraine all about themselves. 

This week it has been noticeable how many in the public eye cannot stop becoming visibly upset over the misfortune of citizens trapped in the escalating warzone. First it was Holly Willoughby (above)

This week it has been noticeable how many in the public eye cannot stop becoming visibly upset over the misfortune of citizens trapped in the escalating warzone.

First it was Holly Willoughby (above)

This week it has been noticeable how many in the public eye cannot stop becoming visibly upset over the misfortune of citizens trapped in the escalating warzone. 

Even if they have the luxury of being thousands of miles away from the anguish.

Yet as the situation worsens and darkens in Ukraine, it is hard to blame them for failing to keep a stiff upper lip. 

First it was Holly Willoughby.

Then the Duchess of Cambridge, followed by even the doughty Cornwalls. 

Everyone’s smiles are wobbling while tears are welling – because the horror is all too real, the atrocities too visible.

It is not just the excellent reports from brave journalists on the ground being beamed around the world. 

Social media gives Ukrainians an international voice that has been unavailable to those in previous conflicts. 

So we see everything from bombed out bathrooms to little girls singing Disney songs in night-time shelters.

Grandmothers weep as they are pushed along in wheelbarrows, fathers kiss their children goodbye, women in labour are carried on stretchers through the wreckage of a maternity hospital.

Watching their suffering is utterly wrenching, but whatever happens, we must not look away.

While the Russian people continue to be fed disgusting propaganda, the very least we can do is bear witness to the truth.

 

We all love a good crime investigation don’t we?

But how soon is too soon to teach the kiddies about murder and harga kaca tempered (paluminium.com) bringing killers to justice? 

There has been outrage over a Luton primary school mocking up a child murder scene for a science lesson, but I want to be honest here — the ten-year-old me would have absolutely loved it.

Ketchup bloodstains, a fake dead body, footprints to be measured and a crowbar to dust for fingerprints

There has been outrage over a Luton primary school mocking up a child murder scene for a science lesson, but I want to be honest here — the ten-year-old me would have absolutely loved it

There has been outrage over a Luton primary school mocking up a child murder scene for a science lesson, but I want to be honest here — the ten-year-old me would have absolutely loved it

Come on, what could be more fun? 

And also instructive; involving the deployment of mathematical, scientific and deductive skills in easily bored little brains.

Some might say it was the day common sense got murdered and, yes, some parents were furious. 

One, self-confessed ‘snowflake’ Echo Allen, wondered why the pupils couldn’t be taught about ‘colours of the rainbow or different animals’ instead.

I’ll tell you why, Echo.

Because children are better off engaging with the real world than skipping about pretending to be a cloud.

Even if that means learning about blood spatter patterns, suspects and phone triangulation. Evening, all.