Some Notes Against Complacency

aye-copyBy Pat Kane

In the midst of my own lunchtime cartwheels over the recent Ashcroft polls yesterday – showing Scottish Labour’s potential evaporation, constituency by constituency, by the SNPs rayguns – I received a few sharp throbs of pain from some ugly old Yesser scar-tissue. You’ve been here before, pal, came the message, in distinct morse-code-like pulses.

In response, let me batter out some Notes Against Complacency.

Note 1: You’re not the SNP – you’re the YeSNP – so act accordingly. I’ve already had pelters for minting the phrase “YeSNP”, but I’m going to stick to it grimly for now. “ScotsBloc” might work if there was more than one party in the coming General Election stramash – there’s not. But what does exist is a party swollen by the consequences of the non-partisan, culturally-conscious, community-led activism of the Yes movement. It’s also resulted in a brace of parliamentary candidates, some great pals of mine, who came to the fore in that movement, and who – I hope – will be men and women o’ independent (as well as Indy) minds.

The SNP leadership and its circles must remember that it lost a referendum on a prospectus mostly brewed up in an elite bunker. That bunker explicitly fashioned it as a play-safe strategy, whose keystone – the currency union – was as easily refuted by an implacable British state as Jim Sillars predicted it would be.

The recent appeal for manifesto ideas from the wider membership is a good move. But a wise course would be to keep remembering, more than ever, that it’s the turbulent energies of a diverse movement – and a movement well to the left of the Salmond era – that’s gotten them to this powerful, unexpected post-No position. I’m still calling them the YeSNP. So there.

Note 2: The YeSNP must keep engaging in a “Battle for Britain”. If the aim is to turn this early polling promise into actual SNP (oh, alright, I’ll release you for a moment) seats on the day of the General Election, the UK implications of their policy and ideological positions must be explored and extended. It’s started with the agreed “red lines” positions with Plaid and the Greens (and extended by Common Weal a few days ago).

In the coming debates, I don’t think we should underestimate just how brilliant it will look to see four blustering blokes being elegantly unravelled by three smart power-feminists  I’m sure Natalie Bennett will get her act together for the event).

But the SNP should keep searching for allies in the rest of the island, particularly among a) the English non-Blairite labour-movement centre-left, and b) the plethora of English activist networks (like People’s Assembly, 38 Degrees, the anti-war and environmental movements, the gathering Northern regional pressure groups).

Look at the diversity of activists that Compass (used-to-be Labour left pressure group, now an “open tribe”) has brought together for its Change: How? conference  kicking off this coming Sunday in London. Apart from the actual presence of Scots-indy figures, what does this mix of arts, workshops, performance, idealists remind you off? Yes, it’s a “National Collective” event in all but name.

The democratic carnival of the indyref has recalled the English left to its interest in the culture of politics – all that 80s and 90s invocation of Gramsci, and latterly Stuart Hall, that unfortunately got translated by New Labour into marketing strategies and Cool Britannia. Scots self-determinists have understood well for the last few decades that pluralism, and the right to self-expression, builds deep political muscles, rather than being “off-message”. We should embrace that the English left are remembering this.

The “anti-austerity” and “more powers” elements of the SNP/Plaid/Green alliance are deeply attractive to these constituencies. Also keep an eye out for a revival in popular anti-Trident sentiment down south as well, enabled by new network tools and with major-name endorsement.

To see and hear the SNP ally itself to these progressive English forces – stationed well to the left of Miliband’s Labour Party – will maintain credibility with those Scottish Labour voters who are actively considering “lending” their vote to the SNP in May. The SNP leadership should be alive to the ways that cultivating these rUK groups can give it a chance of a different story coming through the London-based mainstream media. This will impact on those Scottish voters who are more passive in their media consumption (ie, not the “cybernats” of legend). And on that point…

Note 3: The UK media-establishment complex will play hardball again. So keep consuming and supporting alternative media (including The National). It’s quite a realisation – and on a bad day, a somewhat chilling one – to find that you have entirely lost faith that the BBC’s UK news operation can ever fairly represent the politics of Scottish self-determination.

I’m sure many of you experienced the same shiver of cynical understanding the other day. Were the Ashcroft polls on the ScotLab collapse more like a warning klaxon than a snapshot of opinion – something fired up from one part of the media-establishment complex to awaken the rest? Doesn’t it actually herald the return of the blitzkrieg of lying, loathing and demonisation that we came to call “Project Fear” – and which, as it turned out, actually did do enough to intimidate enough Scots to keep Yes from victory?

Well, if it does, then we are at least as well prepared as we were, if not a lot better. One of the salient factors in Syriza’s victory in Greece was not just its use of social media, but its access to, and support from, both a national radio station and a national newspaper for years beforehand.

We know that Scots voters who were more passive and less interactive in their media consumption – older, more traditional voters – correlated more with a No voting profile. So it is incredibly important that YeSNP (it’s back again!) types and others economically support The National paper in these next few months (and its ideological sister, the Sunday Herald). The National will become, effectively, campaign literature that can be easily obtained at the street corner, and passed to friends who occupy this bracket.

Let me be clear – this makes no request for either paper to change its existing editorial policy. The National needs only be as committed to its desired, front-page outcome – “an independent Scotland” – as the Record is to its “Vow”, “Vow Plus”, or whatever variation of Labour Unionism it traditionally supports.

Yet I don’t want to downgrade that we’ve managed to build, and maintain, an alternative public media sphere in Scotland after the referendum, out of zeros and ones (and the steady commitment of writers and readers). has come about as a fusion of the old Newsnet Scotland site, and Derek Bateman’s passionate podcasting and blogging. Bella Caledonia maintains its preeminence as the home of progressive Scottish thinking and writing; Wings Over Scotland continues its necessary and meticulous media monitoring, “watch the watchmen”.

And   a project of Common Weal – is picking up speed as a vital aggregator of progressive-left Scottish (and global) content from across the Net, including these sites and many other independent bloggers. When any of them make their appeals for cash, as they doubtless will in the next few months, respond as well as you can. You literally pump oxygen into the largely airless abyss of mainstream Unionist media in Scotland.

And, at least until May, we do seem to have squeezed two regular, nightly political programmes out of the budgets of STV and BBC (though for how long, who knows). Merely from necessity, these shows have an appetite for new guests and voices, which figures from the indy media sphere in Scotland often provide. We should regard them as targets for intervention with interesting stories, angles and events.

Note 4: Stay awake. Keep talking. Do what you can. Whatever’s happening, and whatever the outcome, it’s better to be busy being born than busy dying in the post-referendum Scotland. And it’s a lot better than I expected it would be. That’s definitely worth a little throbbing scar tissue.

Comments (51)

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  1. Ken MacColl says:

    All fair and timely comment.
    While still savouring the projections of Ashcroft’s polling I got my boots on and went out to deliver a couple of hundred “SNP bums on Westminster benches” leaflets.
    We now have our PPC for Argyll & Bute confirmed and will ensure that he maintains a high visibility.

  2. Laura Dunbar says:

    I’ve arranged to have The National put in our local library as an antidote to the other newspapers. I ‘ m sure others have done the same – maybe something local SNP groups could do – at least til afyer the Election.

  3. sandra strachan says:

    Good idea Laura, was thinking of leaving some in the likes of costa in waterstones..

    1. Laura Dunbar says:

      Great – I’ll offer my old copies to the local coffee shops too.

  4. Dr Ew says:

    Spot on analysis. If the polls continue this way, however, it is going to be difficult to ward off complacency and maybe even a bit of premature triumphalism – I see examples all over social media.

    Key moments will include the launch of the YeSNP manifesto – there, I said it! – which will need to tack sufficiently left in its content to inspire the new members to get out and campaign. Another will be Nicola at the debates; I have no doubt as to her debating abilities especially honed in the fires of last year’s campaigns but a thoughtful, intelligent intervention toshock the consensus and surprise viewers in the South: “We’ll ablish the Lords and instigate root and branch reform of the entire corrupted, gerrymandered UK voting system because we believe in better democracy for everyone in these islands,” or something along those lines.

    Her inevitable showdown with Murphy will be telling too. This is a man who engineered the fall of Lamont and his own ascension to the Scottish Leader leadership believing the SNP bounce would peter out and normal service would be resumed. To be fair, no one predicted the surge in SNP (and Greens and SSP) membership what followed the No vote, and certainly no-one foresaw the scaling of polling heights we’re witnessing now. Murphy’s private polling in East Renfrewshire has fractured his confidence to hold the seat where he’s incumbent, hence his hedging on confirming his candidature (and the media’s strange silence on the matter) so his machinations and hubris have brought him to a place where he’s staring down the barrel of political oblivion. This is man fighting for his career and his life’s work – that work being an apparachnik of the neo-liberal takeover of Labour, styled on the less successful polar opposite attempted by Militant in the 80s.
    Facing Nicola if he’s too feart to stand or with polls still pointing to a Labour wipeout must be a terrifying prospect, and no amount of last-minute psuedo-Socialist conversions will wash in the heat of that studio – BBC cheerleading or not.

    I didn’t think Scottish politics could get any more fascinating than last year. I was wrong. All we need to do is work hard, and keep the heid.

    1. Monty says:

      Nicola should sign you up as a speechwriter pronto

  5. Dan Huil says:

    The unionist media is the only thing Labour in Scotland have. The BBC is, of course, disgraceful and beyond redemption. I boycott all unionist media but I know that’s not enough. Time to put on the old walking shoes and deliver some leaflets to further the cause.

  6. Gary says:

    I was in two minds whether or not to vote in the forthcoming election but I have decided to vote SNP. But I will do so through gritted teeth. I will vote in the knowledge that the SNP just voted through draconian cuts in my local authority, cuts which include a 30% cut to the voluntary sector and the loss of hundreds of jobs. No doubt, SNP supporters will say, ‘they had no choice’ but what angered me was that none of the SNP councillors stated this publicly. Instead they came out with the same old managerial jargon about ‘efficiency savings’, ‘doing more with less’ and ‘tough decisions’.

    1. pat kane says:

      My point about YeSNP exactly. I hope the new entrants are as vigilant about this kind of banal managerialism as you are. I write all this as a Scottish Green Party member, who would seek UK level PR as one outcome of any deal/coalition, so that we wouldnt have to grit teeth with such tactical votes under FPTP.

  7. Optimist Till I Die says:

    Don’t forget to include iScot ( )and Scottish Statesman ( ) to any list of new Indy oriented media. The printed version of the iScot is brilliant for passing on to those who won’t touch anything political (like my wife) but soak up any brilliant glossy presentation. Some of the key issues are likely to get past the defensive barrier. And hopefully the Scottish Evening News will be up and running in due course.

  8. Pete Barton says:

    Looking at your AYE design, I wait calmly for the day when I can truly say


    Do you remember a court case where a Judge lectured ‘the accused’ that to use the word ‘Aye’ when asked if guilty (or whatever) continually would be a contempt of court, and became rather angry with the impertinent pleb who steadfastly refuse to say ‘Yes’ when asked.

    I like the connection.


    1. Kenny says:

      I went to school with that guy! The best bit was when the judge lectured him about it and then said “do you understand?” The response? “Aye.” 😀

  9. oldbattle says:

    Question? Has any Bella family member asked “Why are we fighting to send pro-Independence warriors to warm seats at Westminster?” Could there be a movement to say FO WEstminster we don’t recognise your rule over us?
    If the SNP MUST go to London let them go to disrupt and not cooperate with a Unionist Gov that is the enemy of the people of Scotland. Am I an auld radical?

    1. pat kane says:

      A considerable number of No voters will “lend” SNP their vote, in order to pursue the Scots interest at Westminster. I don’t think we can call that a mandate for Indy. The only route is through legal referendum, driven by solid and persistent Indy majority. Events so fluid, who knows when that will arise? In the meantime, it will demonstrate our principles to join other parties/forces in WM reform. It may be effort

      1. pat kane says:

        Sorry… We may as well, was my ending there.

  10. maxii kerr says:

    Even after the lies and contempt shown to us all here in Scotland, There is still a hard core …orange, loyal , unioniste brigade prepared to voice” hate filled banter ” and vote against their own countrymen and women.I don’t think we are ever going to be free from these morons! as long as they are being guided by powerful unseen hands.
    I hope we can all rally under the one flag at the elections and give us a future chance of independence, where we could be free to pursue our own political paths in safety and unhindered.

  11. Monty says:

    I do worry about Scotland becoming overly dominated by one party. The Greens, SSP and now the Lib Dems are marginal parties. The Tories are a minor party and the labour party are in free fall. The aim not just to defeat but destroy the opposition became part of Scottish politics in the 80s when the Tories were shown the door despite both small c and large C views being a natural part of Scottish life and character. Next the SSP effectively destroyed themselves the Lib Dems became beyond the pale for forming the Alliance and now Labour are in perhaps terminal decline and many are rejoicing. Yes all of these parties are to a great extent the authors of their own misfortune but is this a good thing for Scotland and democracy? All these parties represented strands that should exist in a healthy democracy and all had legitimate and respectable platforms and all had contributed in good ways to what Scotland is today. We have one big party now and when that stumbles and falls, which will happen someday, what will we have left? We are getting fair bit of musical chairs now and those who would almost certainly have joined Labour or the Conservatives a generation ago and would have been politicians and candidates for those parties are now in the SNP but how sustainable is this and should we rejoice at this state of affairs.

    1. AnnaMac says:

      The Scottish Election 2016 will surely bring forth an upsurge in Scottish Greens, SSP, Independents (at least I hope it will). No-one wants a one party state, in a sense we’ve had this in Glasgow (Labour) for 60+ years. Meanwhile, GE15 does provide UK-wide opportunities for YeSNP to build support, as Pat points out. I remain hopeful of meaningful change in Scotland.

    2. pat kane says:

      We should have had a better YesAlliance ticket for GE – not to be. Pluralism will be restored in 2016. I always sought an “Indy majority” in Holyrood, across the parties.

      1. Squirrel Towers says:

        Monty, I have the same sadness but am going to support yeSNP for the GE in my constituency but will be voting Green in 2016. I hear disaffection from my friends in the south (why they didn’t vote for AV, which although pants is better than FPTP, is a mystery) who want to vote Green too. We should push for full system reform down south, progressive politics with reform of party funding, abolishion of HofL etc if yeSNP have a greater voice and profile.

      2. Kenny says:

        I’ve been saying for a while that the SNP should try to position itself as the political wing of the independence movement. If it’s just about the party, it will struggle. But if the party is seen to be somehow representing WfI and Common Weal and NC and whoever else in Westminster while they go about their business at home, I think that can be a positive step. Perhaps the SNP could even think about having some of those groups as affiliated societies in the same way as the Labour Party has the unions.

        1. pat kane says:

          In a wee way Kenny that’s happened — WFI members Joanna Cherry, Phillipa Whitford & Natalie McGarry, and Tommy Sheppard who’s on Common Weal board — all SNP candidates.

    3. Dr Ew says:

      The prospect of a monolithic single party dominating Scotland would, I believe, be counter-productive to securing in the medium to long term. The SNP were initially open to the idea of a yes alliance standing at the forthcoming election but first the membership surge then the polls motivated an understandable shift to building and consolidating the party position.

      I will vote SNP this May as I have done in previous FPTP elections, but agree that the adoption of PR across the UK could and should be achievable, preferably with a system close to that we enjoy in Scotland. I doubt that’s a priority though and the self-interest of the SNP – should it prove that FPTP now works in their favour – could see PR way down any list of red lines. Maybe co-operating with the GPEW and Plaid will maintain it in SNP priorities. I hope so. Regardless, in 2016 I hope the next SNP government in Holyrood is tempered by coalition or confidence & supply with the Scottish Greens (who’ll get my vote) and the SSP.

      SNP dominance could easily see them become the “natural party of government” in Scotland while simultanenously making the ultimate goal of independence ever more elusive. That is a situation ripe for the kind of compromise and corruption that killed the socialist soul of the Labour Party.

  12. richardcain2 says:

    “a brace of parliamentary candidates, some great pals of mine”

    Some of 2? Really?

    1. Brian Fleming says:

      Mebbe he meant a clutch of candidates?

  13. £5 for yes says:

    The SNP is the labour party, and the conservative party, and the liberal party, and the green party,and the
    ssp party,and every other party.They are a coalition, an alliance of people with all sorts of political views
    who want democracy and independence for scotland.
    That is why they will succeed.

  14. Luigi says:

    I don’t hold to the opinion that the media won it last September – I really don’t.

    If the media had been remotely effective, YES would have been lucky to make 30% on the day. The fact that we made 45%, in spite of the most negative, aggressive media onslaught ever witnessed in these islands speaks volumes. If the media had been effective in 2007 and 2011, do you think we would ever have seen an SNP government at Holyrood? Believe me, that really was not meant to happen. And neither was 45%. And neither was YES Glasgow or YES Dundee. The establishment’s worst nightmare(s).

    Scotland just wasn’t quite ready for independence in 2014. Getting there, but not yet. The referendum came at least five years too soon, but it had to be tested in 2014. The older generations were aware of the facts, but they stubbornly hold on to their ridiculous belief systems (and we are all guilty of that from time to time). For them, the vow was just a convenient excuse which made it slightly less painful to vote NO. The country has changed irrevocably, however. IMO some mistakes were made (nothing compared to the gaffs BT made), but overall the YES campaign was brilliant. We never quite made it to 50+, but we have changed Scotland forever. Ask the Labour party, who are now looking helplessly up the barrels of a loaded shotgun.

    So please stop looking back at 2014 as if it was some tragic failure. It was not. It was just meant to happen this way. A massive step forward. Frustrating yes, but patience will bring ultimate success.

    Support for independence now at 53% – it’s still rising, slowly but surely. Three years ago, support was hovering around 30% (and had been for years). Now look where we are.

    1. Brian Fleming says:

      I think you’re probably right, Luigi. I certainly hope so. I think the 2011 landslide came ‘too soon’ and forced the SNP’s hand. Next time…….

    2. pat kane says:

      A good narrative Luigi – I’ll keep it in mind. I just cant forget the sheer media-establishment lockdown and coordination after the “Yes ahead” poll, two weeks before the vote. I feel we need a few years of further confidence building, to amass that solid 60+% for indy that will “look and laugh at ‘a that” blitzkrieg the next time. That might be partly through an intelligent and principled “coalition/confidence and supply” with UKLab, letting them relax and move at least from centre to centre-left.

      1. pat kane says:

        But it’s a whole other ball game if UKLab collapses during these debates and Tories bolt together another coalition, as we know… a YeSNP Bloc still vital in these circumstances.

      2. Baffled By Hyperbole says:

        Hello Pat,

        How does a relaxed UK Labour Party moving at least from centre to centre-left (‘at least’) sit with your children going to private school? (“because my wife told me they had to go to private school”).

        (I want my child to go to private school, but I’m neither a Labour voter, a Leftist, or a hypocrite)

        I’m new here, so I’ll be interested to see if this comment is moderated and / or I get banned. Bella, you are on trial for your commitment to open debate, free speech and liberty.

        1. pat kane says:

          So my marriage breaks up in 2001 because of fundamental differences of outlook – including over private education – and that grief becomes the topic of public trolling? Shall I intrude into the private details and drama of your family life? No censorship, I’m sure, on Bella Caledonia. But you could exercise a little basic human respect for my children and their right to an unharassed life, whoever-the-fuck-you-are.

      3. Alastair McIntosh says:

        Wow! “Baffled by Hyperbole”. Your challenge to Pat Kane is one thing. Your lack of an apology, given the nature of the man’s reply, is quite another. Why don’t you do the decent thing, prove you’re a real human being with a living, beating heart, and at least come out from hiding in the cupboard of your pseudonym?

      4. Baffled By Hyperbole says:


        Thanks for replying.

        Pointing out hypocrisy and double standards is not ‘trolling’.

        Where have I shown disrespect for your children?

        I am not judging your children in any way (I’m judging you).

        I’ve got no problem with private education (My father in law came from a single parent family in an older industrial area and got a supported place at Grammar school, and he and his wife (also ‘working class’) spent every spare penny they had schooling their daughter privately – who is now a senior hospital clinician (not a ‘banker’ etc.)

        And anyway, you talked about this to a major newspaper – this is not some paparazzi intrusion. If you feel this kind of line of questioning is ‘harassing’, then don’t talk to the newspapers about your family (or at all).

        I find it slightly bizarre that where your children went to school became an issue at that stage in the relationship. My child is five months old, and we’re planning his education now! Or was it that a longer standing plan for them to be privately educated became an inconvenience for your political / career trajectory?

        You seem very touchy about this – you’ve even sworn at me. Even Diane Abbot doesn’t swear at people when challenged on a similar matter. (She blamed the state of the education system – in her own constituency! – before moving on to ‘you are all racist’ etc.)

        When someone – especially a public / self promoting figure – says that a centre / centre right political party (Labour) should ‘relax’ and move ‘at least’ from the centre to centre-left (i.e. to the Left), and it then turns out that their children were privately educated (private education being the root of all evil for the Left) it is perfectly reasonable for that hypocrisy to be pointed out and highlighted.

        Don’t try and hide behind ‘you are harassing my children’. You are a public / self promoting figure, you talk to the media. If you answer questions from the media about your children, you have exposed them. And notwithstanding whether your explanation is true or not, you could just as easily have said ‘I am not going to answer any questions about my children’. Did you consider it expedient to answer the question in the way you did, because you need to try to rebuff accusations of hypocrisy?

        Again, this is not ‘trolling’. It is important that hypocrisy and double standards are exposed, including that displayed by ‘political activists’, especially where they are involved in a ‘nationalism’ the purports to be promoting ‘social justice’.

        There wouldn’t be much point in trying to intrude into the private details and drama (?) of my family life because I’m not a public / self-promoting figure, my life is perfectly ordinary anyway, and no-one would watch that movie.

      5. Baffled By Hyperbole says:


        Thanks for replying.

        I have nothing to apologise for. I have merely pointed out an example of hypocrisy, and double standards.

        I am not harassing or disrespecting anyone (see my other post above).

        And I don’t have to ‘prove’ anything, to you or anyone else. Certainly not that I’m a ‘human being’, or not. I am not a public / self promoting figure. I have a child. The last thing I would ever do would be to put any particulars about my child’s life into the public domain through the media, that is no-one else’s business.

        (Notwithstanding anything else, my wife would kill me – she is a deeply private person)

        Why would I put my real name on the internet?

      6. Alastair McIntosh says:

        “Baffled by Hyperbole” – as only one of Bella’s large editorial advisory team I won’t presume to speak for other editors including Mike Small, the editor-in-chief; but to speak for myself, I consider your second posting to be edging towards the trolling tendency, and I’ll share with you why.

        As I said above – “your challenge to Pat Kane is one thing” – and I happen to think that it was a reasonable challenge. It’s a question that I too might have wanted to ask because I consider private schooling to be a toxic force in Scottish society (except for parents whose circumstances, such as constant employment relocation, give them little option for the child’s stability of education).

        However, when Pat has answered in the way that he has done – albeit with some irritation – to continue to press the question seems to me to be hectoring. Indeed, as I have suggested, I should have thought a soft apology might have been considerate.

        My name on the websites to which I respond is always my real name. Anybody can find out where I live and come and chap on the door. That said, I accept that other folks, for legitimate reasons such as their employment, challenging life circumstances, or fledgling confidence, may not feel so free to use their real names. Perhaps you are in such a category? Where that is the case, the privilege of the lack of vulnerability to comeback that anonymity grant must carry with it commensurate moral responsibilities if it is not to amount to “trolling”. One of these is to recognise the assymetry of power in anonymity. You can call Pat to account, but he can’t similarly call you out. As I would see it, that assymetry counsels the decorum of restraint.

        Let me add that I do know Pat Kane, but not at all well. It’s not like I’m special pleading for a friend. My sense is that Pat has already answered your question as far as is reasonable. Furthermore, I say that as one who has himself once been divorced. There is a limit on what it is right to press a man about with respect to his ex on a public forum. Not least, a decent ex respects their ex.

        Thank you for contributing to the diversity of views expressed on Bella. You said that you were placing Bella “on trial”. Others may want to chip in, but I rest my response there.

      7. I do not know Pat Kane. When, however I see the accusation of “hiding” (behind his children), then my response is to feel disappointed that this thread is becoming unnecessarily personal; but if the commenter must, then so be it; but – mutatatis mutandis – do not then seek to persist in hiding behind the veil of anonymity, which is a much more obvious, and very easily cured, form of ‘hiding’.

        Is there perchance, a General Election in the offing?

      8. Baffled by Hyperbole says:


        Thanks for replying.

        You are disappointed that this thread is becoming ‘personal’.

        At no point have I accused the original poster of “hiding behind his children”. I have accused him of trying to hide behind the complaint that I am harassing his children – which is quite different, and I am doing no such thing.

        I am challenging the hypocrisy of the original poster, against his self-righteous suggestion that a centre / centre right party should move to the Left, in the interests of ‘social justice’ (or social democracy, or whatever) – when his / his family then used their privilege for their children to be privately educated. (Private education is apparently anathema to social justice and social democracy).

        (Just to be clear – I am not a Labour voter, or a Leftist, or a “Unionist”)

        I am highlighting an example of the hypocrisy of the ‘Scottish Left’ – which is of course shared by the English Left – and the Left everywhere – of ‘do as I say and not as I do’.

        Your point about ‘anonymity’ is fatuous. If we were at say a public debate where Pat Kane was speaking, say, for example, about social justice, and I challenged him about his children’s education, would I / should I have to stand up and say ‘Hello, my name is ________ and I’d like to point out …

        No, I wouldn’t. I do not have to tell you my name. I am allowed to be anonymous, and to chose to be anonymous. And if the original poster wishes to make points and statements identifying themselves, that is their choice too. But this is not what’s important.

        What is important is highlighting the hypocrisy and double standards of someone purporting to be a proponent of ‘social justice’, when their children were privately educated, and private education is seen to be in conflict with or anathema to achieving social justice.

        As part of a wider discourse (which I chose to engage in) highlighting the hypocrisy of the ‘do as I say and not as I do’ Left.

        Yes, there is a General Election approaching – it’s on 7th May 2015. What’s your point?

        Thanks again for your polite and civil reply.

      9. Actually I do think you should stand up and say who you are; the fact that it doesn’t happen generally in social media I find disappointing, but there is nothing to be done. I suspect it is because of anonymity that “trolling” has become so widespread; and to be clear, I am not accusing anyone here of “trolling”, but it is a pernicious attribute of anonymity. But in the special case that a personal attack is mounted I do not think anonymity is either fair or reasonable, and for me at least, the credibility of the argument immediately falls; hoist by its own petard.

        As for my point about the General Election, your argument appeared quite explicitly to be political; “I am challenging the hypocrisy of the original poster, against his self-righteous suggestion that a centre / centre right party should move to the Left, in the interests of ‘social justice’ (or social democracy, or whatever)”.

        I am not comfortable with the combination of personal+political+anonymous. I think politics should be in the open (scarcely a revolutionary thought); the fact that it isn’t entirely open is both obvious and a profound disappointment I have to live with, but argue against. And for the avoidance of doubt, and as I have made clear before, I am not actually from the “Left”, nor am I a member of the SNP.

        1. bellacaledonia says:

          We are considering moving to a model where people have to use their real names.

          I’m not sure Baffled by Hyperbole if your analogy of a public meeting is the right one.

          It’s more akin to walking into a pub conversation with a balaclava on.

      10. Alastair McIntosh says:

        Bella, if you do, I suggest an option where people who have good reason to be anon can apply to be so. I’m thinking of people like civil servants or company employees who may be a bit hamstrung about what they’re openly “allowed” to say.

    3. A sound assessment. The Scots are political evolutionary gradualists. They will not be rushed.

      1. Pat Kane has answered.
        Here’s some honesty about private education. Where I and my children grew up (Orkney) there was no choice. Everyone living in the isles went to one of the comprehensive state schools on the isles.(home education only began to emerge in the late 80s). My children were disadvantaged educationally – poor control of systemic bullying, no chance of hot-housing to Russel group university or achieving the spread of languages or grades to get to their chosen courses. Maybe I too would have wobbled had I had a choice and bolted to the private sector scrimping and saving on the promise of advantage, because at the time when these educational failures seemed totally life-limiting to my children I would have done anything to make sure their chances were not trashed. What is more important than the firm rungs of the early career ladder? I couldn’t bolt but would not condemn anyone else for doing so. It was less principal that kept my children in state education but lack of any other. And were they actually failed? Well no, in hindsite the panic that I subscribed to as a worried parent that my children were not keeping up with the educational Jones’s turned out to be misplaced. They travelled different routes but each has in spades, emotional intelligence, empathy, reslilence and tenacity and the ability to learn and move on from failure, (oh yes and degrees) Some things that have no price and cant be bought. But this is an unfair issue to pin any parent on.

  15. Darien says:

    A certain degree of naivety here, methinks. Lets face facts: the fact is that a 40+ SNP bloc (even plus 10-20 others) will have minimal influence at Westminster against the expected 500+ MP red+blue tory bloc. That is why the 40+ SNP MP’s must be ready to declare independence, which is after all what they and the SNP stand for, at this election and at every election. Otherwise the 40+ will simply be keeping their bums warm on Nicola’s tartan seats. Independence has to be taken; it will never be ‘given’ by our imperial overlords. Scotland needs courageous politicians, not a bunch of useless trough seeking time servers. Scotland has had enough of the feeble 40 or 50 SLAB pack – lets not go back to more of that please. So declare Independence, we will have the Scots majority to do so, and tell them finally to politely FO, as oldbattle says. FPTP has been good enough for them to treat us like crap for 100s of years, now the boot is on the other foot. This is no time to lose the bottle friends. So stuff their tartan seats and tell them we won’t be needing any MP offices either. If we want to give our 40+ SNP MP’s a job, create new seats for them at Holyrood. That is the kind of power we need to start talking about, no’ poisoned scraps fed tae wee hame-rule Scotia colony aff the UK tory table. So lets get real and stop being as naïve as we have been for such a very long time.

    1. Dr Ew says:

      Sorry, Darien, but I disagree. Declaring independence on the basis of a majority of SNP MPs elected during the tumult and white noise of a UK General Election just months after a very clearly set out referendum on the very same issue returned a 55% majority against the proposal… well, I think it’s you who’s being naive. For better or worse, and I’m not sure which it is, a referendum is now established as the method by which the Scottish people will decide on full nationhood. That may change, but not within nine months.

      We need to think on how to make the reality of the situation work for us, but first we have to work to create the situation by securing the election of as many YeSNP MPs as possible. Let’s not underestimate that task as I for one do not believe there’s a single one yet secured.

      1. Darien says:

        Sitting at Westminster achieves nothing, whether 4 or 40 MP’s. Referendum is a recent phenomena, not a precedent.

  16. James Baird says:

    Hi Pat,

    I have a few questions I wondered if you would engage with being the erudite and learned person you are. First up a few crits about the piece though (just minor ones)

    1) You state indirectly state that the reason for the NO vote was the currency – Sillars etc. Then you contradict that be saying it was project fear. Isn’t this just a wee bit patronising to No voters. My view is that they were well informed and voted no for ‘real’ negatives – the currency being the main one.
    2) How do you propose to solve this? As before, with Scotland’s own currency – this option also was roundly refejected by the electorate/ scottish people and would be again.

    But I have another deeper point to explore.

    Many to the left of the Yes alliance are very pro Syriza. Although there are some very refreshing aspects (not least the finance minister) there are also some very worrying aspects, primarily the links between Syriza, Greek Independents, Putin and the Ultra nationalist Pan Slavic, Orthodox christian ‘red and brown’ movement. The movement is the conflation of the far right and the far left/ religious groups, who have merged for other nationalist/ ethnic ends. This is a very powerful aspect of the coalition and we now have a government which some consider is a manipulated (certainly funded) by the Russians in their expansionist aim. The movement/ Russian romantic nationalism takes Huntington’s ‘clash of Civilizations’ as a framework – and places it onto one of histories great fault lines. (see Eurasia websites) It’s no coincidence that some of those now in power in Greece supported Milosovich and Serbian Ultra nationalism in the Balkan war and support a restoration of Russian hegemony/ rebalancing of Europe by force over the area/ in particular expulsion of Muslims. Dugin, (Russian Greek Scholar – see Eurasia) and mates with Putin, called for genocide on Ukrainians and Jews. He is also best buds with the present Greek foreign minister.

    Merkel, for all the criticism, knows the threat better than anyone and is rightly very concerned. This is partly why she resists a change to the austerity ‘plan’ – she realises that the untiy of the EU is the best defence for those on the periphery against Russian Nationalist expansion – Balitcs/ Poland/ Balkan Muslims/ – She see the potential for serious conflict – especially in the Balkans. So if Greece gets debt relief then all ‘indebted’ EU nations will want it also – collapsing dominos. France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, etc… and will play into the hands of unsavoury populists in these countries (Le Pen, Forza Italia, Northern Leagues,). This is Putin’s plan, why he is bank rolling so many ‘anti establishment’ groups etc.

    My question is, how can the ‘Yes alliance’ ensure that the left aspect isn’t complimented by a right aspect – the two tend to go together. There seems to be a blinkered Scottish exceptionalism at work?

    Also shouldn’t the Yes alliance, rather than blindly cheering and allying itself so explicitly with Syriza be more circumspect and questioning – as the SNP have been.

    Really wood like to hear your thoughts.


  17. anons says:

    Q1> Left/Right, Far Left/Far Right is out of date. More than ever there is Right and Wrong.
    Q2> Blind cheering should always be discouraged.

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