Time to Wake Up and Ask Some Difficult Questions about the SNP and Independence

‘What Do You Do When A Society Lies to Itself?’ So said writer Umair Haque this week in the context of the constitutional standoff in Trump’s America. But it is true of most nations most of the time; certainly it is true of today’s UK – and also of modern Scotland.

Scottish politics are currently in what can only be described as a phoney war – a becalmed period of inertia and inactivity in-between the storms that buffet politics. Everyone is waiting to see how Brexit pans out. This is central to how the SNP and Scottish Government see things. They are sitting, anticipating the debris that flows from Brexit and the implications for independence. Unfortunately, this is a politics of passivity, and even of acceptance, that others (the UK Government, EU negotiators) will determine the political environment.

Added to this, since the indyref, a problematic mix of complacency, and even self-deception, has befallen too many independence supporters. For one, the SNP leadership has failed to grasp the political momentum post-2014. Nicola Sturgeon has not made one strategic gambit since the indyref and her election as SNP leader and First Minister – beyond the March 2017 attempt to advance a second indy referendum, in which she was out-manoeuvred by Theresa May and the UK Government.

Scotland’s referendum was a great moment in our politics – a democratic explosion, an expression of the democratic intellect, and a mass exercise in political education the like of which our country has never previously seen. It is unfortunate then that some SNP and indy supporters seem to regard this as a one-off, as if this political mobilisation and education was the zenith – rather than a continuous exercise that never ends, questioning and challenging all orthodoxies.

Too much time since 2014 has been spent telling comforting stories. These include that the 45% of the indyref is only a base camp of support and that the only way is up in any future campaign. There is no iron law of electoral support for any cause – independence included. Then there are the glaring omissions: the absence in public and private of any proper post-mortem on why Yes lost, and the failure to put together a new improved independence prospectus. And with all these missing elements the SNP Growth Commission, headed up by Andrew Wilson, has come to be seen as the answer to some of the main strategic concerns – namely, currency, growth and economic concerns. However it cannot address the bigger questions about independence, because that wasn’t in its remit – while the politics of everything remain beyond it.

Answering What is Independence the Answer To?

All of this has conspicuously avoided the big strategic question – what is independence the answer to? For some, this question has an obvious answer: independence is an end in itself to be a sovereign nation. But that is the response of Nationalist Scotland (whether in or out of the SNP) and does not address how the majority of Scots who don’t see the world in these terms are motivated to sign up to the cause.

The answer from non-Nationalist Scotland for independence has increasingly shown itself as threadbare. Thus, Pat Kane recently invoked – as many have – the vision of a ‘Nordic social democracy’ as within reach through independence: deliberately ignoring that Scotland cannot be fully Nordic (the inconvenience of geography, history and tradition to name but the most obvious), and that everywhere in the world social democracy has been in retreat for decades – hollowed out, compromised and discredited.

Underneath this, one version of an indy Scotland of the future is change to resist change. In a reply to an Andrew Tickell piece in ‘The National’ last week one person stated that ‘The case for independence is not a case for radical change but a case for preservation of what we have, a social democracy. Radical change comes from Westminster and is almost always unwelcome.’

Independence as preserving what we have, the politics of the status quo, isn’t exactly highly imaginative or even real social democracy. Instead, it is the politics of kidding ourselves, linked into the time-honoured Scottish tradition of pretending to be radical to describe what is ultimately a conservative, conserving state of affairs. We have been here many times before in our history and politics.

Independence has to be for something bigger and bolder, with a clear vision, if it is to cut through, to tell an engaging story, and to speak beyond true believers. The 2014 offer managed to have a populist edge, while speaking to a social democratic sentiment which sat with an acceptance of neo-liberal assumptions. Such a mixture isn’t permanently on offer to the independence cause: there is Corbyn, Carillion, and the collapse of the neo-liberal model, while incumbents cannot continually present themselves as populists.

A Different Kind of Scottish State

One of the most hopeful aspects of the 2014 indy offer was that it seemed to offer the chance of not just a separate Scottish state, but a different kind of state: one more attuned to the modern age, democratic, pooling sovereignty and sharing it domestically and internationally, and with a sense it was the servant not the master of the people.

However, since that historic vote, the landmark of ten years of SNP Government has passed, and such a length of time allows us to review their track record, policies and actions. While the SNP Government has done many decent things, with a track record of competence, there has also been a conspicuous absence of any real radicalism or innovation in policy.

Nowhere has there been any substantive progress on fleshing out and making real the politics, structures and ethos of a different kind of Scottish state, and the statecraft that would flow from that. Instead, the politics of imagining a different kind of state – and indeed a different kind of society and future – have been (however imperfectly) captured by the advent of the Corbyn Labour Party. That whole project may well end in tears, particularly if a Corbynised party were to find itself in UK office, but that’s a whole other argument.

Ten years in office tells us many things. It points to the SNP leadership being informed by a technocratic managerialism – the outlook that informed the list of achievements in the recent SNP PPB. But what it also points to is caution and conservatism, and that this is a party without any clear sense of transforming Scotland beyond the issue of independence. Again, that is all that matters to some – the party and a large section of the indy base – but it doesn’t create a winning majority, tell a compelling story, or paint the politics of the future.

This is then added to by tensions between the appeal of party and that of movement – something that is a universal set of faultlines. The SNP is a party, not a movement. Yet it claims to speak for and represent a movement. The period 2011-14 saw the creation of a genuine independent pro-indy movement but that has now dissipated – in part incorporated into the SNP, or one that has just disengaged and disappeared into the ether.

This poses problems for any future politics and independence offer. How do people seriously imagine another indyref will come about and be won? The answer at the moment centres on the appeal and decisions of the SNP and its leadership, and the electoral prospects of the party. That is of course unavoidable from where we currently are, but it is not a healthy place to be because all parties go up and down, and the notion that the SNP could in perpetuity defy the laws of political gravity was always misplaced.

It isn’t an accident that the SNP have been proprietorial about the indy cause. They are a political party. But in the ten years of office they have shown a mixture of suspicion and dislike to many political initiatives which aren’t from the party or party controlled. Thus, such independent initiatives as RISE and Common Weal are viewed by senior SNP personnel as proving the ill-advised nature of projects which don’t come from the party and thus prove their self-perpetuating dictum that the party always knows best. Unfortunately this leaves the SNP and its current stance increasing isolated and vulnerable.

“A politics solely based on party carries problems. It has limitations in its appeal, its rationale and resources. It is (for obvious reasons) partisan, more short-term than strategic, and less interested in ideas. The problem is these areas of weakness are all key to making the case for independence and building an infrastructure, community and argument around it.”

All over Scotland there is a listlessness, inertia and anxiety. People feel they are treading water with a sense that decisions and power sit elsewhere. This sense of powerlessness has been aided by the missteps of the SNP since 2014, and the current stance of the party, which has failed to seize the political initiative since the energies of the indyref.

The SNP leadership thought post-2014 that they had somehow caught and were the beneficiaries of a historic wave of change: the tartan tsunami of 2015 being one expression of it. They didn’t quite know what this wave was, what had produced it and where it was ultimately going, but they thought they could ride it and shape our collective future. Inevitably, that period of our politics has now firmly ended and we are in a very different political environment.

The current approach of the SNP will not deliver the change some still hope for. It will not create in the immediate future a political sentiment and public opinion where an indy referendum is winnable in the next year or two. Nor will a politics of caution, command and control and centralisation suddenly change how it operates, morph into something else and rejuvenate into a politics of pluralism and co-operation.

It is understandable that Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t taken a future indy referendum officially off the table. Not only does it work as a discipline on SNP and indy supporters; critically it acts as a hypothetical big stick towards the UK Government in relation to Brexit. Yet, what the SNP leadership has failed to point out is that there is next to no chance of an indy referendum in 2019 or indeed before 2021 (and before the next Scottish elections). That is in part a product of political decisions made since 2014, the consequences of the SNP losing their Scottish Parliament majority in 2016, and the ill-fated moves by Sturgeon in 2017 towards a second referendum. A lot of political capital and authority has been burned through in these decisions that cannot be ignored.

None of us have all of the answers to Scotland’s politics, the state of independence, and the future challenges. But fundamentally we should not put our heads in the sands and believe that everything is alright, or will turn out alright, unless there is a discussion of where we are – and that things need to change. That such observations should even be seen as heretical or the sort of things which shouldn’t be admitted or said in public, only confirms the scale and depth of the crisis. Things need to change urgently, otherwise – as is already happening – that mantle of change will be seized and adopted by others.

Comments (152)

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  1. John Stuart Wilson says:

    The SNP are proprietorial about the indy cause because it is now a mechanism to keep a lot of pretty mediocre party loyalists ensconced in comfortable jobs that are more handsomely remunerated than they could ever hope for in the private sector.

    “It is understandable that Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t taken a future indy referendum officially off the table. Not only does it work as a discipline on SNP and indy supporters; critically it acts as a hypothetical big stick towards the UK Government in relation to Brexit.” In a word, no. Everyone knows IndyRef2 would be suicide; banging on about it is what caused the SNP vote share to drop down to just 37% in the GE.

    Nicola Sturgeon sees talking about IndyRef2 as the only chance she has of getting to stay on as First Minister as head of a minority government after the next Holyrood election.

    1. Ernie Watt says:

      As I recall, it was the unionist parties that “banged on about it”, in particular the Ruth Davidson Party. SNP strategy was to concentrate on their record.
      The unionist parties (abetted by the unionist media) made the Scottish Election all about Westminster issues. The SNP couldn’t redirect the debate.
      indyref2 = suicide? The most pessimistic poll has shown independence support at 43%. A more favourable one a few weeks ago showed 49%. And that’s without the campaign fired up. Don’t be so downhearted.

      1. John Stuart Wilson says:

        You recall incorrectly. The immediate response of Sturgeon and the SNP were saying they were happy to have the chance to secure a reinforcement of their spurious “mandate” for IndyRef2; later Sturgeon went so far as to say that the issue at the “heart” of the the GE was to pass judgement on the correctness of her decision to push the IndyRef2 bill through Holyrood. It is true that later, when polls demonstrated that this had been a previous miscalculation, she changed the record; but by then the damage had already been done.

        Think about it this way: if the SNP thought the GE didn’t have anything to do with IndyRef2, why did IndyRef2 disappear from the SG cabinet agenda when it resumed meeting after the votes had been counted?

      2. Sandra Bolton says:

        I agree. If anyone had the time, or inclination to look back to any debate that has been televised, including Holyrood, count the number of times that Independence has been mentioned, and take note of who mentioned it. Nae contest.

    2. Alfie Dickson says:

      What a load of rubbish, stop this nonsense, all this high felooting so intelligent crap you guys write, if you can’t see the SNP are playing a blinder here and Nicola Sturgeon in particular, you sir are in the wrong place, you put up a better argument than unionists , I know you will reply with your supierier intulect saying read this again ,isaid this and isaid that , and why no one can criticize the SG or SNP ,heard it all before, so in my opinion if you think the SNP and the SG are not doing what you think is best, vote against them next time maybe the new Scottish Labour will get us independence.just saying in my opinion.

  2. Bert Logan says:

    Wow – I am reading this from England.

    All over England there is a listlessness, inertia and anxiety. People feel they are treading water with a sense that decisions and power sit elsewhere. This sense of powerlessness has been aided by the missteps of the Tories since 2016, and the current stance of the party, which has been shown to be a disaster since the referendum.

    Funnily I think about the timing of a referendum a lot: Its mandates, so has to be ‘inside this Scot Parl window’.

    Lets see:
    2016 – too soon after the Scot GE, too soon after the EU Ref – Cameron went, the maelstrom began.
    2017 – getting there, but sidetracked by May’s mad GE. SNP support ‘slumped’ – or rather, the SNP failed to understand that ‘the Yes movement’ would do nothing to keep it at the 2015/56MP level. Losing some good MPs, and adjusting to the ongoing MSM tirade of ‘the end’.
    2018 – waiting for the EU deal. Hard to gauge public opinion, most likely opening their eyes and realising how bad Brexit will be. Support rising slowly, announce a 2019 vote in October predicated on EU guarantees (hopefully requiring observers of election).
    2019? Vote Yes.

    The ‘Yes movement’ failed to re-ignite in 2016 for the UK GE. The SNP relying on that going forward is a dumb thing to expect. It cannot, and as a minority, it has to ‘run’ things as well as watch what happens.

    Why did we lose the 2014 #Indyref? The MSM, the lies. Thats all it was, and none of that has changed.

    your answer? Its not in the above.

    1. Greg says:

      It was lost because it was always a minority desire. The fact it got to 45% was a huge achievement, and it was achieved because of a great many factors, some of which won’t be possible to replicate.

      1. Bert Logan says:

        ROFL – yeah – the ‘full devo max’ lie? <- the Vow.
        ROFL – yeah – the 'stay in the EU' lie <- Brexit.
        ROFL – yeah – the oil is running out lie <- huge new finds.

        Note the common – 'lie's. LibLiars, LabLiars, Tories – all liars.

        62% wanted the EU – fact.

        Wonder what that will do to the 45%? LOL

    2. Interpolar says:

      I am currently reading this from Europe. To bring independence forward, people of Scotland have to understand what they are currently part of. They appear to think that it is still some pre-2003 Blairite Cool Britannia. But to actually know what GB looks like from here, think Boris Johnson.

  3. Mike Vickers says:

    All this is true
    As Gerry Hassan says at the end of the article
    ‘None of us have all of the answers to Scotland’s politics, the state of independence, and the future challenges.’
    But it would be nice if Gerry suggested at least a couple of suggestions as to the way forward
    Mike Vickers

    1. Alasdair Macdonald says:

      Mr Vickers, quite often after having read one of Mr Hassan’s pieces I want to ask him the same question: “Accepting your analysis to be sound, what are you proposing?”

  4. Alf Baird says:

    “Things need to change urgently”

    What do you have in mind, Gerry? Bearing in mind the census tells us that year after year ever more cultural ‘No’ voters are piling in and holding back the ‘Yes’ vote.

    1. Tickle says:

      Piling in aye? At least you didn’t call them a flood or a plague.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Folk from other countries are always welcome Tickle, though understandably perhaps not so readily when they pro-actively block their host nation’s right to self-government.

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      The census tells us nothing of the sort.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        The census tells us all we need to know about population change in Scotland, Graeme, that is its purpose; you should read it some time. I take it you do not live in one of Scotland’s many ‘No’ voting Tory/LibDem rural fiefdoms?

    3. Observer says:

      Well, the franchise is an interesting point. The EU referendum franchise was pretty outrageous, pretty much the equivalent of Scotland excluding anyone born outside Scotland from voting in IndyRef. Certainly the franchise was the reason Leave won. But given how Brexit is going, squeaking over the line next time is not enough really.

      1. John Stuart Wilson says:

        How was it “outrageous”? It was a referendum meant to give Westminster instructions, and the franchise was the one used in Westminster elections. This was the same franchise used in the referendums of 1975 and 2011. It is inconceivable that some other franchise would have been used.

        If someone has been living here a long time and was unable to cast a vote it is only because during those long years of residence they never cared enough to get around formalising their new allegiance to this country.

        1. Alf Baird says:

          “….allegiance to this country” (or, by implication, allegiance to another country?)

          Arguably the issue of ‘allegiance to this country’ represents the main barrier to getting ‘No’ voters to change to ‘Yes’. And this suggests a far more difficult challenge (for independence) exists when we insist on offering what is a globally unique, wide open, franchise on constitutional voting rights whereby more or less any ‘resident’ here can simply pick and choose whether our nation of Scotland exists as an independent state, or remains as an exploited colony. Like a Roman Emperor, those with the least allegiance should always be expected to give our nation the thumb down sign, and they do, with gusto.

          1. John Stuart Wilson says:

            “Arguably the issue of ‘allegiance to this country’ represents the main barrier to getting ‘No’ voters to change to ‘Yes’.”

            If you’d could convince the English-born living in Scotland that their economic futures would be bright after independence, then you’d have no problem convincing them to vote for it.

            But even if you they were irrationally unpersuadable, the native-born Scots can easily outvote them.

            The problem isn’t place of birth. The problem is that the economic case for independence doesn’t exist.

          2. Alf Baird says:

            Our cultural affinity will always outweigh economics (or any other general policy issue) when it comes to high-level constitutional decisions, especially decisions regarding fundamentally changing one’s nationality and citizenship. If that change ‘fits’ with our culture then we will be more likely to accept it. If it does not ‘fit’, we will reject it.

  5. William Low says:

    An excellent analysis that gets to the point. Many people I know are suspicious of the SNP and remain uncertain about where they are going. Sadly Nicola Sturgeon is not liked and that influences decisions on the issue of independence. I remember that when I was a boy, we regarded the SNP as the ‘Tartan Tories’ and as is pointed out in the article their conservatism in government would resurrect that epithet. Yes we do need to rekindle the flame. Were independence to be won, voting by proportional representation could allow more progressive elements in a number of parties to develop a Scotland that was more humane, more caring, critically more equal and be a model for a new approach to governance. The question seems to be not so much where do we go from here, but how do we go from here?
    I hope that out there, there are enough young people who have the desire to see that new society and who will create the noise that we need to start us on our way.

  6. Eulen says:

    >Nowhere has there been any substantive progress on fleshing out and making real the politics, structures and ethos of a different kind of Scottish state

    I can’t let this go. Do you know who Jeane Freeman is, Gerry?

    1. Graeme Purves says:

      Spot on!

      1. Jim Monaghan says:

        yes, she was a New Labour spin doctor in Jack McConnels time, is that who you mean?

  7. Christina says:

    “The mantle of change will adopted and seized by others”
    The truth is we want to be independent, a majority of Scots rejected Scottish independence from rUK and likewise the majority of rUK rejected being integrated with Europe. We live in a world which is divided and run by a few who are independent by virtue of their wealth. Contining living as we are doing is unsustainable, progress should not be through an artificial life but through real intelligence and working together. Scots will discover ‘Christ in a project’ to restore free choice allowing a system of government that will work at an individual level. BREXIT will create the window of oppotunity for Scots to demand change. 3-phase politics is a possible way forward developed in Scotland for the UK. People could be more independent if they choose, if their political party’s accept that current political systems have failed and allow us a real choice. It is high time that more decision making power is restored to the British people.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      “a majority of Scots rejected Scottish independence from rUK ”

      Actually, close analysis of the census and voting intention surveys indicates that perhaps half of the ‘No’ vote, i.e. one million voters, were not ‘Scots’ or of Scottish heritage. Which implies that a clear majority of ‘Scots’ did vote for independence.

      1. John Burrows says:

        In fact, 53% of those born in Scotland voted Yes in 2014. The six hundred thousand residents then in Scotland from the rUK and the EU tipped the balance in favor of those opposed to independence.

        The irony for our EU residents is that they have been ruthlessly abused by an underhanded British State, who used them to deny Scotland it’s rightful place among the community of nations. And what is their payment for aiding and abetting this same British State? Why, to be cast adrift for their pains.

        As for the article, it is the same turgid, uninspiring claptrap that characterizes all of Mr. Hassan’s contributions to the debate. He is forever indulging his own fetish for carping from the sidelines, offering no positive insights/solutions to achieving progress in our democracy.

        He’s just another hack who has hitched his wagon to the SNPBad meme. The fact that the SNP runs the best administration in the UK, even with both hands tied behind its back, is neither here nor there for his ilk.

  8. Alan Bissett says:

    There are very obvious reasons why the energies of 2014 went into the SNP after the indyref that aren’t necessarily about the party arrogantly assuming control of the movement.

    Many Yes activists were demoralised and shattered by the No vote and simply went back to their lives. That had nothing to do with the SNP. Those who remained active found themselves faced by an unprecedented amount of elections in a three year window – two at Westsminster, one at Holyrood, one to elect MEPs and one for local councils, plus of course the EU referendum – meaning their energies were absorbed by party politics and campaigning. That was simply unavoidable. You can’t prioritise a ‘movement’ when there are two elections every year and no date for a referendum on the horizon.

    But we are through that period, which is why there are clear and obvious signs of the grassroots, non-party Yes branches being reanimated all across the country – last year’s Scottish Independence Convention being the most visible – which is the first step towards pulling the disaffected back into the Yes orbit. By the time Sturgeon pushes the button (unlike Gerry, I can’t see how she can avoid this before 2021) the infrastructure will be in place.

    Many of the issues Gerry addresses are being discussed week-in-week out by Yes activists. Gerry is a journalist and academic – a very good one, to my mind – but he’s not an activist, which is possibly why he’s not aware of what’s happening at the ground level. I simply do not recognise this portrait of Yessers as happy-clappy dupes presuming it will be ‘alright on the night’. I see organisation a-plenty, and a determination to get it right.

    But if it appears that the SNP are being tossed around upon the waves of Brexit that’s because they are. What more can they do? Scotland voted to Remain, and the Scottish Govt have published numerous reports and analyses on how Scotland could stay in the Single Market/Customs Union, and on how Brexit will economically affect Scotland, only to be completely rebuffed by the UK Govt. The threat of independence is literally the only card the Scottish Govt has to play, so Sturgeon played it. She had a duty to. It was in the SNP’s manifesto. Voters elected her on that premise.

    The reason the SNP insist that independence is the answer is that there is very little the Scottish Govt can do – in circumstances such as Brexit – without it. You can call it ‘strategic error’ or SNP incompetence if you like, or you can call it simply playing with the only hand of cards you’ve been dealt.

    Does Gerry also really believe that no analysis has been done of the failure of the 2014 campaign? Quite frankly, I’ve heard nothing BUT that since then. It’s pretty much all Yessers have talked about. It would be a very obvious mistake for Sturgeon to ‘announce’ a revised prospectus for independence this far in advance of a indyref2 date, seeing as it would essentially signal the start of a campaign, but that is not to say the work is not being done behind the scenes.

    Support for independence has not fallen below 43-47% since 2014, even as support for the SNP has waned. That’s clear evidence that the energy is still there and is simply waiting for the right moment to reveal itself.

    1. John Stuart Wilson says:

      Independence isn’t viable with 43-47% support. It isn’t even viable with 51% support. You seem to think that Nicola Sturgeon has winning arguments to make but she is keeping them secret. Well, catch-22 then. At this moment the prospect of a second independence referendum polls about as well as Brexit. Those secret, winning arguments have to come out now or there will be a unionist majority at Holyrood in 2021.

      1. Alan Bissett says:

        Don’t understand any of your points, John. Why isn’t independence viable with 51% support? That’s a majority. It’s the same majority that took the UK out of the EU and kept Quebec as part of Canada. And you’re just assuming that it won’t rise any higher than that.

        It’s not a matter of Sturgeon keeping the winning arguments ‘secret’ it’s about not launching a fresh prospectus too early, as doing so essentially kick-starts the campaign before there’s even a date for the referendum. Those arguments don’t have to come out NOW, as long as they come out in good enough time for people to make their minds up in the next plebiscite.

        1. geacher says:

          What John (I assume) is talking about is polling at 51% prior to a referendum….history has shown that the majority of “don’t knows” always plump for the status quo.
          And “It’s not a matter of Sturgeon keeping the winning arguments ‘secret’ it’s about not launching a fresh prospectus too early” No, wrong. The support for indy is falling -yes it is- because over three years later still no closer to answering the currency question, the deficit question, how would we cope with the loss of the fiscal transfer….. you may think that Sturgeon is keeping her powder dry, others think (like I do) there is NO powder.

        2. John Stuart Wilson says:

          “Why isn’t independence viable with 51% support?”
          Wow – do you really have to ask that? When that many people are dubious, how do you propose to stop capital and people from moving across the border to wait things out? And how to force the rUK to the negotiating table to iron out the thousands of contentious details when they know their opponents hand is weak as a kitten?

          “not launching a fresh prospectus too early” is the least of your problems. The independence movement is hemorrhaging support because every day more people realise there is nothing new to be said, all you are doing is refusing to accept the 2014 result. Sturgeon somehow convinced herself that Brexit was something new, apparently without realising that everything she said about it was an argument against independence, or against Glasgow dragging Shetland out of the union against its will.

          You’d never get your second bite of cherry if you have nothing new to say.

          1. Malcolm Hughes says:

            John Wilson has so many ‘bites of the cherry’ he must be bung full of pips and none of them fruitful. All this wind generates little. The present Scottish Government is doing the job well. The SNP is playing the only worthwhile role. The Westminster regime is chaotic and run by secret power, disorientated, disillusioned even dishonest MPs and invested interests. Only the people of Sotland can speak for them, not me or any of you. ‘Inertia’ is sensible in this situation. But we are not inert. I am winding up in fury at the liars, cheaters, fascist, gangsters, warmongers etc. playing the field as the world gets more dangerous. I am European, fact. I am Scottish, fact. I was British, fact (have my identity card) but I detest the English model of monarchical feudalistic enslavement that Wesminster has become. The Stuart’s were murderous…Scots who took over olde England. Lords Rule !God less mighty than a bishop!
            And ATOMIC bombs aside Glasgow! And Scotland economy and oilfield run by London!
            So, I’m a Yes supporter…. I want debates on policies , on plans on cooperation and trade on education, social needs etc. Not sleezy, senseless point scoring.
            So, this old Scot is awake, does pay attention, has grandchildren on his mind and a care for the future. So, be aware we are watching you and …….

        3. Robert T says:

          I agree with you Alan , If Nicola Sturgeon were to announce a ref date before breshit do you think for a minute that the wastemonster govt wouldn’t do everything in its power to circumvent it , lets not kid ourselves , without the rich resources of Scotland , England is in dire straits financially . If it were not so we wouldn’t be suffering the total media onslaught we have been since 2014 and as the usual argument goes if we are so poor and stupid why doesn’t wastemonster just get rid of us

          This article strikes me as the usual attempt to get Scots arguing amongst themselves , sowing discontent and rubbishing the only leader and party that will get us anywhere near independence .

          I like many others are desperate for indy and have many thoughts of how Scotland should go forward into the future but until we get independence everything has to remain flexible

          I visit this blog regularly and am noticing that the Byres Rd coffee house debaters are becoming more and more insistent that their way is the true and only way independence can be gained
          It also appears to me that reading the comments that there are possibly a fair few SIU green ink brigade doing their utmost to undermine aspirations

          I am a dyed in the wool independence supporter and i don’t care how many referendums it takes we WILL gain our independence

      2. DaveM says:

        John, what you’ve described as a Catch-22 is not a Catch-22…

    2. Quinie frae Angus says:

      Thank goodness for you, Alan Bissett, and your succinct common sense.

      Wholeheartedly agree with you.

      There is lots of work being done at grassroots level in this interim stage – to name but five off the top of my head (apart from the brilliant Common Weal stuff by Robin McAlpine and Dr Craig Dalzell):

      The clever new networking IndyApp developed (and still being worked on) by National Yes Registry. Download it and see where your nearest Yessers are meeting and socialising! Add your own group!

      Lindsay Bruce (@RogueCoder250) works tirelessly free gratis and has created a highly efficient hub supplying a wide range of Indy materials and the very professional Aye Mail postal services for Yes groups.

      Wee Ginger Dug and his human are traipsing the length of the country’s village halls and pubs doing talks and answering questions – with the all-essential Yes humour that is so essential to creating the feel-good factor. A lovely antidote to much of the po-faced central belt ultra lefty handwringing that puts many people right off (as a north-east quine I know this from talking to people).

      The new Truly Scottish TV venture seems to be taking off. Media professionals will no doubt sneer at the raw, unpolished and amateur look of some of the wee films on there – but they can scoff all they like. It will stand or fall on its power to attract viewers – and at the moment it seems to be managing that no bother. It’s precisely the “ordinary Scots” on there that give its charm and its unique place as a welcoming forum for a’body and anybody out there who wants to have their say.

      On a much more professional and polished level are @PhantomPower14’s excellent “Journey to Yes” films. Need I say more! Fantastic range of articulate people describing their “No to Yes” transformations.

      There is lots more but for starters the above lot contribute hugely to a fairly healthy crucible of grassroots activity, do they not?

    3. Elizabeth says:

      Agree with that. There is an undercurrent in Scotland at the moment; a sense that something is coming down the line. It’s not only the Scottish Gov who are aware we are being ignored or sidelined, strung along, even deceived by Westminster. Im sure there are a lot of notes being taken while we wait for the right moment to act.

    4. Ian Hardwick says:

      Quite right AB, we lost in 2014 due to lies, driven home in all MSM outlets, and promises/vows – unfulfilled. Scots had their eyes opened to UK political duplicity and yet 45% still chose independence, this awareness hasn’t gone away. It will be interesting to see how the unionist faction try to convince Scotland that it will be better off staying in this union as the full, dire, consequences of Brexit become plain for all to see.

    5. Gerry Hassan says:

      Hi Alan,

      Thanks for your comments.

      A brief response on one point I know a lot about. There has been no public or private post-mortem on why independence lost in 2014. That is different from a lot of talk post-2014 about 2014 – of which there has been lots.

      Why this is so is interesting to ask? The conventional argument is that the SNP were caught up in the tartan tsunami of post-2014 – and became as well as being beneficiaries of this wave, trapped by it. Thus, they focussed on their rising membership and what became the SNP 56.

      I have to say I dont fully buy that argument. Cant people multi-task? And it was in the SNP’s self-interest and the wider Yes movement to fully debrief, analyse and face the reasons why independence lost – so that people could learn, adapt and develop and be more effective in the future. The absence of this has been one factor in the bitterness of the more partisan/problem wing of independence – which is another sign of the SNPs failure in leadership post-2014.

      1. Mike Vickers says:

        It is clear that Scotland post 2014 has stagnated; there needs to be a paradigm change. Evolutionary theory suggests that speciation takes place in small isolated communities which then move back into the centre and fill an empty niche.

        Perhaps we should expect the changes we hope for, from let us say ‘independence’, will arise from the Western Isles; Giga, Eigg, Knoydart and North Harris. These communities have transformed themselves through confidence and forward thinking and are now moving towards self-sufficiency. We need some of that confidence reimporting into the cities of central Scotland.

        To get a feel of this confidence I recommend James Hunter’s ‘From the Low Tide of the Sea to the Highest Mountain Tops’ published by The Highland Trust Books and funded by CarnegieUK.

    6. Gerry Hassan says:

      Hi Alan,

      Thanks for your comments.

      A brief response on one point I know a fair bit about. There has been no public or private post-mortem on why independence lost in 2014. That is different from a lot of talk post-2014 about 2014 – of which there has been lots.

      Why this is so is interesting to ask? The conventional argument is that the SNP were caught up in the tartan tsunami of post-2014 – and became as well as being beneficiaries of this wave, trapped by it. Thus, they focused on their rising membership and what became the SNP 56.

      I have to say I dont fully buy that argument. Cant people multi-task? And it was in the SNP’s self-interest and the wider Yes movement to fully debrief, analyse and face the reasons why independence lost – so that people could learn, adapt and develop and be more effective in the future. The absence of this has been one factor in the bitterness of the more partisan/problem wing of independence – which is another sign of the SNPs failure in leadership post-2014.

      1. Lorna Campbell says:

        Hi, I absolutely agree with Gerry Hassan that we did not take apart that result from 2014 and analysed it upside down. That was and remains a bad mistake. I firmly believe that, had we done so, we would have a much better idea of which route to take to independence: the referendum route, I believe, is over – unless it is an advisory one that does not require Westminster’s permission. I think we would lose again if we were granted a Section 30 Order – which, of course, we will not be granted anyway. We have buried our heads in the sand and been too timid to look at the reality of what that NO vote was saying. It has been established by academic studies that native Scots did, in fact, vote for independence by more than the overall Leave vote voted for Brexit. The obvious extrapolation from that is that the Scottish Unionists are a minority. However, English/rUK and EU residents all voted NO by a majority, although the EU residents’ vote was the lowest for NO, and the English/rUK vote was the highest for NO. We do ourselves no favours at all by refusing to understand what that is telling us: that we have a group of people in Scotland who have made Scotland their home, but who will do their utmost to keep us in the Union. Why? Because they are British/English Nationalists and their view of Scotland is that of the imperialist towards the colony. They came north with no expectation of living in an independent Scotland. That was never in the plan. In this endeavour, they are backed by Scottish Unionists, and the two groups have allied to thwart Scottish independence. That is not to say that there are not many English/rUK people who support Scottish independence, and we cannot alienate them. They are crucial to a future referendum or other route to independence, and many of them are far more committed than some Scots. Nevertheless, we have to face up to the fact that migrants into Scotland are hell-bent on keeping Scotland tied to the UK and it has nothing or little to do with economics. We could create a template for independence that shows that we could survive and flourish, but that would do little to persuade this group to support independence because they are viscerally opposed to it, like their Scottish Unionist counterparts. That is why the referendum route is a risk – worth taking, of course, but still a risk. Personally, I would opt for the constitutional route and the dissolution of the Treaty of Union 1707 because England has overstepped her constitutional authority for years, and Brexit has simply shown that to be the case. And before anyone jumps on the bandwagon and accuses me of anti-Englishness, or of wishing to deprive residents of their vote, all I have ever done is point out the truth behind the NO vote and the likelihood that NO voters will vote NO again. I am not trying to be a misery guts or a party pooper, but we have to face up to the reality of our situation and take it from there.

        1. Derek c says:

          There’s a lot of words wasted and scratching of heads and clammering for analysis and reasons why Indy ref was lost…blaming immigrants and the Meeja etc..but as Bill the lying rapist murdering Clintons strategist famously told him its the economy stupid..simples.now you can stop scratching your heads.

  9. Doug Daniel says:

    The independence movement does not want for people ready to declare that the SNP is doing everything wrong. It’s a little short on people saying what should be happening instead, however. This article is a perfect example – all problems and no solutions.

    Alan Bissett pretty much nails it above. The only thing I would add is, if the SNP is indeed a party and not a movement (and it’s correct to say that), then why does it feel the entire burden of expectations of the movement are placed on the SNP’s shoulders? Is it not the case that the non-SNP parts of the movement have made their own mistakes? We’re forever hearing how we’d never have gotten 45% if it wasn’t for campaign groups X and Y (always stated as if it could have been done without the SNP…), yet nobody seems to be asking why these groups aren’t doing more themselves.

    As Alan says, there have been so many elections that the SNP has understandably been in constant election mode. Perhaps the rest of the movement should have picked up the slack? Nobody seems to be asking why they didn’t – far easier to just use the benefit of hindsight to have a pop at the SNP.

  10. geacher says:

    As a committed No-er, you guys need to be aware that every public utterance by Sturgeon on indyref2, every time that it is mentioned that she says that “Scotland is being dragged out of the EU against its will,” every cringe inducing video that the SNP release, every day that passes without any mention of Andrew Wilson’s Growth Commission Report being published, another nail gets tapped into the coffin that contains the body of the independence movement. Salmond almost took you to the top of the hill, Sturgeon is taking you back down again. Whoever is advising Sturgeon on policy -if indeed she has an advisor- is doing a great job for the Union

    1. Greg says:

      I sometimes wonder if Sturgeon has had an epiphany and realised Scotland (and she) have a pretty good gig with the status quo. She has to keep supporting indy publicly, of course, but ever since the EU referendum she’s seemed like a different person.

      1. geacher says:

        Yep, that’s why FFA is on the back burner.

      2. Interpolar says:

        In all fairness, I think Sturgeon is giving the Indy movement a breather, as the rest of the electorate. People need to concentrate on the dog‘s dinner that is Britain-in-Brexit. Once they‘ve started to digest that, there might be more appetite for Indy.

      3. Richard MacKinnon says:

        Greg,
        Of all the comments here yours is nearer the reality of it than all the others.
        “I sometimes wonder if Sturgeon has had an epiphany and realised Scotland (and she) have a pretty good gig with the status quo”. Of course she has. She and her unelected lieutenants know that. They have known for a long time (Salmond realised it on 19.09.2014 and so did a lot of other nationalists including me) there will never be another independence referendum. Sturgeon and team realise The UK has after 300 years has been secured. They know September 2014 cemented it for ever. She knows the only alternative is to establish the SNP as the party of Scotland and in so doing book ‘the safe gig’ in perpetuity.
        Where I vary from your theory is when you say “She has to keep supporting indy publicly…………”, OK that much is true, but she doesnt believe in it. I am much more sceptical than you. I think she has used the ‘second referendum’ option as a smoke screen, as a tool to deflect her party and independence supporters from a much more confrontational course.
        Look at the timing, and the circumstances. She (NS) committed the Scottish parliament to a second independence referendum last March. At that time Nicola Sturgeon knew a general election was going to be called by Theressa May but she didnt know when. The SNP held a lot of aces in their hands at that particular point in time. The Brexit result and Scotland voting Remain. Scotland and our government being ignored in the Brexit negotiations. Scotland a Tory government with one Tory MP.
        The clever tactic and the justifiable one at this, once ever historical moment would have been to do nothing and wait for the GE. That was the time to put a one statement manifesto pledge on the SNP ballot paper ‘Vote SNP and if a majority of SNP MPs are returned the SNP will take that mandate and negotiate independence for Scotland from the UK’.
        Had the result been as it was, a majority of SNP MPs, Brexit would now be the side show to the real constitutional crisis.
        Not only was the ‘second referendum’ committment a mistake, I think it was a deliberate manoeuvre to scupper any chance of a really radical and confrontational manifesto that the Brexit GE offered up.
        Taking the fight to Westminster was not worth the risk to ‘the good gig’ and all that goes with it. Where we agree Greg is that as you say Nicola “….ever since the EU referendum she’s seemed like a different person”. Is it any wonder? She is put The Party before The Cause.

        1. Lochside says:

          I have to agree with some of what Richard MacKinnon observes. Alec Salmond sacrificed the historical basis for Scottish Independence i.e a straight majority of Scottish Mps being elected to Westminster as the basis for demanding dissolution of the UK Union, when he allowed Cameron to con him into the Edinburgh Agreement. Suddenly our sovereignty became predicated on a Referendum…one undermined by…as Prof. Alf Baird has researched and identified …Ruk settlers and Eu citizens’s votes…and don’t forget to add in bogus postal votes to reinforce the dubiety of that ‘result’s legitimacy.

          Nicola Sturgeon had the evidence of Scottish electoral feeling evidenced by the surge of 100,000 plus new members, impelled by the obvious unfairness of the result into joining the SNP as the leading edge for Independence . Particularly as the ‘YES’ movement was ( I believe) deliberately undermined and sunk by the SNP for its own benefit. This surge was backed at the ballot box by the successes at both Holyrood and Westminster. The latter one fought on ‘managerial’ ‘speaking up for Scotland’s ‘Interests’, instead of demanding outright Independence.

          The result has been clear for all to see: 55 mps impotently trapped like flies in the Westminster web…struggling like house slaves to adhere to their masters’s will but appear to be ‘doing something’. As expected the Scottish imperial media suppressed everything they said or did and the Brexit show rolled into town and over the top of the Scottish political lilliputians.

          The ‘snap’ G.E. of 2017 was designed by May in concert with all the Brit establishment parties to take on the faltering SNP. The fact that the SNP acknowledged they would lose seats says it all. I challenged my local SNP MP on the policy of another ‘managerial’ campaign based on the enemy’s ‘No surrender to another Referendum’schtick…I was assured it would not be a problem. Half a million SNP votes less and twenty odd seats lost and I was proved right. No pleasure in that vindication..only consternation at the lack of will and even more so the total lack of fight back ever since.

          I see no evidence of political guile, direction or courage in either Nicola Sturgeon or the party’s leadership. Nice people they may be. And yes they have done a lot for Scotland. But in our hour of need..we require courage and determination in taking on our oldest and most deadly enemy, if we are to secure our Independence and a future as a continuing nation. BTW I am still an SNP member and will continue to vote for them. I have no other choice. But I have lost faith in them. Unfortunately so have hundreds of thousands of others. If only the party would understand this.

          1. Richard MacKinnon says:

            Lochside,
            Thanks for your reply. I have just found it and apologise for the delay in responding to it.
            My issue with the SNPs strategy centres on last March and forcing through Holyrood (at the end of the parliaments term) the committment of a future Scottish government to a second referendum. I do not believe that Nicola Sturgeon could be so niaive. She knew it is an impossible thing to deliver. It was a pointless exercise. She knew back in March and she and her strategists know it now, a future Scottish governemnt cannot be bound to a second referendum if they dont want to hold one. It is too perposterous a notion to be taken seriously.
            So I ask myself why she did it. The only explanation I can come up with is it was a ploy, a manoeuvre to prevent the potential risk posed (to The Scottish National Party) of a demand from nationalists (within and outside The Party) to fight the general election that was loomimg (in March 2017) on a one issue manifesto (Scottish independence).
            The second referendum pledge prevented a nuclear UK constitutional crisis that would have arisen from that such a manifesto (and result) and would have blown Brexit off the map.
            I realise this a serious allegation. I am accusing Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP strategists of putting the interests of their party before the fight for independence.
            I am tired of repeating my self Lochside. This theory of mine, that the golden opportunity that last years Brexit general election offered has been deliberately avoided seems to generate little or no interest. It appears nationalists are now more interested in Nordic models and discussing questions such as ‘….What is Independence the Answer To?’ That is why I no longer have an opinion and now only observe.
            If the SNP are really serious about independence they should go back to the Scottish parliament, admit the committment to the second referendum was wrong (because it is un enforceable) and take it off the table. (it would also stop unionists constantly harping on about it). They should then wait for the next general election which will come after Brexit and put then put the issue to the Scottish people in a one statement manifesto; “If a majority SNP MPs are returned the Scottish government will take that mandate and negotiate independence for Scotland from the UK”.

          2. Alf Baird says:

            Lochside/Richard, very interesting stuff, and way more insightful than the contributions of many established political ‘commentators’. Perhaps there are now too many recent unionist converts on the SNP payroll, lots of very decent salaries and pensions beckoning obedient timeservers. Alex then Nicola joining the Privy Council was rather a shock – don’t think Gandhi and other colonial independence leaders went quite that far. The HoL next maybe? What gets me is the unionist elite are still being appointed (by Scottish Ministers) to head up Scottish quango-land, almost as if there has been no change in the governance of Scotland since Lang & Forsyth; maybe there has been no real change, where it matters. Its just like old times, Scots elites (the richest 1%) exploiting the masses, deals done behind our back.

          3. Gordon Benton says:

            Aren’t these the ‘parcel of rogues’ that Rabbie referred to … home-bred Scots, the 1% you refer to?

    2. B Stock Syndrome says:

      Why anyone votes to be governed by another country is beyond me. I have been told that there is such a thing as British Stockholm Syndrome. What are the symptoms?

      1. MVH says:

        Aye, Sturgeon should just tell Theresa to bring it on. Tanks on the lawn. Stuff indyref2, go UDI. Make our day, May. Catalonia style. You only live once, eh? Why do we elect such responsible politicians? SNP bad. Very very bad. ZZZZzzzzzzzzz

        1. Richard MacKinnon says:

          MVH,
          You defend them if you want. But I believe Sturgeon has put her party before the cause of independence.
          There is another thing that seriously pisses me off about the SNP. Because of their blind hatred of the Scottish Labour Party, SNP MSPs blocked a bill presented by Labour to change the Scottish system on organ donation to presumed consent. That was three years ago.

        2. Jiffybag says:

          MVH..tanks on the lawn? You won’t have any tanks, you just going to throw haggis at the British soldiers?

  11. Eleanor Ferguson says:

    I have to agree with Eulen. I feel the SNP has made a big difference to the way Scotland is governed. In the face of increasing cuts from Westminster, decisions made are based on fairness and compassion particularly in regard to disabled and vulnerable people. It seems to me that no sooner do the Tories bring out some morally repugnant policy,then the Scottish Government mitigates it. As the mother of a disabled daughter, I appreciate the way the Scot Gov has kept the Independent Living Fund after Westminster abolished it in the rest of the UK and I am very encouraged by Jeanne Freeman’s plans for the Scottish Welfare system. I attended a consultation with Tommy Sheppard and Jeanne Freeman and was very impressed by their attitude.
    I do think that people living here don’t realise how much we are insulated and protected from the worst of the Tory policies.
    It is difficult to see what the SNP could do differently while many people are reluctant to have another referendum as they are waiting to see what will happen next with Brexit. The MSM is certainly making things very difficult for the Scot Gov and will only get worse when another referendum is called and as for the contempt that our MPs are treated with, I’m not sure how that can be changed. I disagree with the idea that Nicola Sturgeon is not liked. That isn’t what I have seen at all. She has a very easy way with people and it is obvious that she is interested and doesn’t feel superior. She is very well respected abroad and if these aspects of her were more widely reported rather than the constant drip drip of negativity more people would be proud of her achievements and of Scotland’s.

  12. Robert says:

    As an English born expat who also has Scottish heritage, I was initially skeptical about the 2014 referendum until I saw the light and realised that Scottish independence was, actually, a golden opportunity to deal a fatal blow to the zombie British establishment, for the sake of Scots and non Scots alike. Alas, it was not seized.

    It seems to me that fear got the upper hand over hope — only just. Perhaps homeowners were afraid for their house values in the uncertainty of a newly independent state. (Like it or not, British politics turns on house prices like a well greased axle. They represent wealth, albeit illusory, for a solid chunk of the population.)

    Fast forward to 2018 and the shitstorm that is Brexit. Wishful thinking makes me want to believe in a second indyref and a resurgent Yes movement, with independence from the Westminster shamble a shoo-in. But a second ref compromised by insiders and political parties (like described in this perceptive article) could be a failure both ways: a No vote would retrench the British establishment, a Yes give the SNP political hegemony for a generation. (I’ve lived in the Basque country which has suffered a similar hegemony by the PNV, Basque National Party. Virtually nothing gets done without their fingers in the pie.)

    Asking the I Ching (ancient Chinese book of divination – scientific materialists please look away now) about Scottish independence a year ago (i.e. post Brexit), the reply I got alluded to “the image of a river bursting through a dam.” Which is a perfect analogy for how a succesful independence movement would play out. The flowing power of water against the repressive power of concrete.

    Once that power is unleashed, no dam can stand in its way.

    1. Wul says:

      “…a Yes [vote would] give the SNP political hegemony for a generation.”

      Robert, you misunderstand Scotland.

      A “Yes” vote in indyref2 would give the SNP a boost until the following Scottish general election whereupon their influence and power would wain greatly as other political parties and agendas took precedence.

      The SNP’s job would be largely done after achieving independence (like Churchill after WW2) and they would become part of our history but no, I think, our future.

  13. Gordon Benton says:

    The present Scottish Government does two jobs – it governs Scotland (albeit within strict ‘colonial’ boundaries), and promotes Independence. I am not sure that any other government in the world has at the same time, both these, apparently conflicting responsibilities. Notwithstanding, many of us in Scotland and around the sticks, still have confidence in FM Sturgeon and her team in its ability to do both jobs through shark-infested waters.
    Let us ask why though that she does not make more sincere overtures to all the other Independence groups within Scotland and around the World (the 25-40 million Diaspora) and TOGETHER move forward on plans for Independence. We now have overseas Trade Commissioners (4) through Global Scot but need to hear about what they are doing. Common Weal and others are doing great stuff on Land Reform, the Constitution, Taxation, Currency – but I imagine so is the SNP: time to put this together?
    We also need some ACTION on the long term planning for the Nation. To carry half of the ‘undecideds’, we should build a ‘dream’ for them and their children. This would involve a fairly long-term plan covering what we must tackle and put into actuality. Let’s call it “Scotland 2045” – and have that in front of the electorate when we have IndyRef2.

  14. Jamsie says:

    It’s the economy stupid!

  15. Anagach says:

    Independence is about ending the slow but inevitable genocide of the Union.

  16. Cath Ferguson says:

    Here’s the thing: I’m not particularly political. Not party political anywhere. I want to be – I can debate and write politics passionately. But within the UK I don’t feel there’s any point. We’re going a certain way, rightward, towards Brexit and it feels unalterable, unquestionable and a waste of time and energy to even bother. We have the Tories, UKIP, a right wing pro-Brexit media and a pro-Brexit (for now pretendy left wing – wait until they ever get into power again) Labour. There is nothing I wish to discuss in UK politics anymore. It’s like watching a foreign country and one I want nothing to do with.

    Sadly, at the moment, I am actually a part of it. So I just feel utterly powerless. And I feel utterly powerless as I watch the Britain I did once love turn into a backward, far right, nasty, xenophobic place run by the likes of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, which will soon be out of the EU which was the last best hope we had of there being someone there to mitigate that.

    Scottish independence is literally my only hope that will change. So if any party or interest group other than the SNP wants to help me feel less powerless, go for it. Please, really, honestly, DO GO FOR IT. I’ll be all ears and open as you like to that.

    For now, my default position is trying not to become utterly depressed, while also looking for a way to get a passport that gets me out the UK. I’d love for that to be a Scottish one. No one bar the SNP is currently looking like the even want that, far less are fighting for it. All the rest right now is white noise.

  17. John Page says:

    I think I have stumbled onto another planet. With England captured by vicious, Britannia Unchanged but incompetent Tories and Corbyn being shown to be useless we are on the brink of leaving the EU…..facing an impoverished future with no environmental or human rights……and we waste time on Hassan’s constipated musings about independence. Let’s just get on with it.

  18. Lochside says:

    The big mistake was not being brave and taking on the Unionist better together front led by Ruth ‘No Surrender in the last GE.

    The weak anodyne ‘managerial, safe pair of hands’ was and continues to be a disaster. The half million lost votes and 22 seats never even merited a change in direction.

    We still have Ian Blackford farting at thunder, ignored and scorned by the English hegemony and the 13 Tory traitors in Westminster.

    Worse; the SNP still appear to believe that passive resistance..ie..none.. is the answer to the BBC led propaganda tsunami.

    Gerry is right…there is no direction..there is no vision. But Gerry , ‘Rise ‘and Corbyn are just fraudulent , bogus Britnat distraction designed to seduce the unwary and naive.

    Unless the Yes movement gets totally mobilised the SNP will be left an impotent rump..and possibly stripped of our ‘parliament,

  19. Pat Kane says:

    Thanks Gerry for a provocative article in the best sense. Of course, the idea of implanting “Nordic social democracy” in a different societal context in Scotland is not what I mean. Maybe “Nordic progressivism” would be a better description – more open and exploratory, less tied to a particular contract between capital and labour.

    My current work (via http://www.thealternative.org.uk ), with Denmark’s Alternativet, Finland’s Demos Helsinki, Tomas Borkman in Sweden, and the Pirates in Iceland, makes you realise that there is a process of renewal of assumptions going on in Nordic societies too. See Finland’s Next Era project https://www.sitra.fi/en/the-next-era/ … – really rethinking the state in the face of major trends. There is some active rereading of historical legacies going on too. Uffe Elbaek writes here https://medium.com/rsa-journal/a-friendly-revolution-845a8fbbcc5c … about how Denmark’s bankruptcy in early 19th century sparked a real urge to increase the strength and capacity of citizens. Borkman’s book The Nordic Secret goes back to the “folk education” moment of Nordic societies, where independence rested on the daily “independence of mind” of workers and citizens. How can that be recovered in today’s environment, where arguably the tools for popular education and civic empowerment have never been stronger?

    My essential point is that the Nordic model itself is mutating in the face of current forces – but of course, as are many other nations/regions/cities, across the planet.

    I always take Gerry’s charge seriously, that there is a conservatism at the heart of Scottish society and ideas – but surely it’s OK to keep benchmarking ourselves against the currently best – and particularly their own reformist and future-oriented processes?

    FWIW, I do agree that there is a lack of strategic vision for, and justification of, Scottish independence. Strange that Gerry doesn’t mention Common Weal’s White Paper project. But even granted that the institutional designs it has produced are solid, I agree that they aren’t really intellectually and conceptually bold, don’t go anywhere near first principles. Paul Mason, Srnicek and Williams, the Novara Media (notably Aaron Bastani) are all using the Corbyn window to argue strongly for a “post-capitalism”. This is a new common-sense about progress – one that can respond to people’s requirement for work, rest and play in their everyday lives, while grappling with huge challenges like zero-carbon economies, the disruptions of automation, the movement of peoples, increasingly wealthy elites and their platforms, etc.

    The irony for me is that Scotland has a very strong sense of what kind of lives we might live, and what priorities we might make, when the neoliberal model finally unravels. We’re interested in land reform and community empowerment; in the importance of culture as a voice for diversity and longing; in a care ethic that drives our public services; in child and educational development (and the powerhouses that are modern universities); in a “quality” brand for our food, drink and tourism, which we’re prepared to legislate to defend (non-GM crops, banning fracking); and in a society which tries hard to make sure women are fully and equally represented in public life (although a long distance to travel).

    Does the Corbyn project have this field of bustling post-capitalist projects and interests to play with- with a positive, civic patriotism, painstakingly constructed since 1979, behind it all? I would suggest not (and I regret that – we need a “merrie” and balanced England for Scottish progress, not one riven between cosmopolitans in the big cities and resentful leavers in between them). The fair wind and social consensus for a post-capitalism naturally comes from behind us in Scotland – whereas I think it has to be conjured up, in near impossible circumstances, for the CorbLabs. We should thank them for the conceptual space they’ve opened up, and occupy it opportunistically. (Gordon Guthrie’s commentary and books at least try to grapple with the networked nature of society, economy and labour).

    The job of the Left is to keep pushing the ScotGov, from outside or in partnership, for the questions raised by Piketty, Wilkinson and Pickett, and the late Tony Atkinson, about measures to seriously reduce economic inequality. (And historically, let us not forget, this was the function of the SSP in the early years of Holyrood).

    But I think we need a “Scottish futurism” as well as a “Scottish nationalism” or “a socialist Scotland”. An agenda that, dare I say it, is as bold as the original Scottish Enlightenment was, in trying to figure out a society that can benefit and harness great changes in industry, science, politics and geography. If not us, who? If not now, when?

    1. gerry hassan says:

      Thanks for this Pat and the generosity and thought of your reply.

      Just coming up to speed with comments after a day of meetings and Celtic Connections.

      There are so many things I didnt mention in this piece because I had to strategically choose to keep the thread of it uncluttered. To take a couple of points I didnt mention the Common Weal Indy White Paper project – or for example – the Indy Convention – as I was writing abt the SNP. And for all the people that dont want us to openly discuss difficulties – I was careful and very selective in the words I used. Basically, the SNP leadership dont trust Common Weal and parts of Common Weal doesn’t trust the SNP. Worse Common Weal is used as an example of why independent initiatives shouldn’t be trusted. That is a terrible mindset, but I cant help thinking that freewheeling populism of Robin McAlpine has inadvertently played into this and reinforced such attitudes. All of this needs carefully explored – and the SNP’s attitudes need challenging to put it mildly.

      Three other related things:

      a) SNP & leadership culture in the widest sense. The SNP’s leadership – from Nicola Sturgeon haven’t been in many senses leaders. They haven’t led Scotland or the SNP since 2014, telling people hard truths, talking abt priorities, seeing politics as a continuous political education. This has to eventually change in relation to the party, government and wider Scotland. If it doesn’t there will be negative consequences for the SNP and indy.

      b) I had a sense of foreboding abt writing this piece that turned out to be ill-founded. But so much of our public sphere is marked by fraught, fought over boundaries of what it is permissible to talk abt and not talk about. Fascinating that Scotland has travelled from a society with all its noise which had many silences and gaps to one which for all its contemporary noise has just as many silences – the only difference being some people don’t want to notice today’s silences which compounds their power.

      I also recognise that I have only covered a small amount of ground – of critique and what is missing. We need to have this, talk abt the problems, and break the silences and their gatekeepers. And from this we need to talk abt what we need to do and then do it.

    2. Graeme Purves says:

      An excellent response, Pat!

  20. Paul Pacey says:

    I am one of the “everyone waiting for Brexit to pan out”.
    No I am not. I have always liked being in the EU and would rather be “in the tent”. The weaknesses the EU has demand skillfull negotiation and building alliances. Scotland could do this brilliantly.

  21. Gordon McAuslane says:

    I admire your enthusiasm for a second independence referendum, but I fear if a campaign for a ‘yes’ vote were taken just now, there would not be many takers. You would not get the turn-out we got in 2014. The same people still want independence, but they would not be bothered to turn out.
    The reasons for independence vary: Some want it because they see no democracy coming from London (e.g. the European remain/leave referendum); some because remote London obviously knows little of Scotland and its needs, concerning itself exclusively with the requirements of itself and the Home Counties; some abhor the incursion of Anglo Saxon culture and values to the exclusion of any other; some see Scotland as held back by a remote incompetent and wasteful Government (we could do things so much better ourselves); some see our infrastructure in the shape of roads, public buildings, schools and hospitals falling apart and know that a wholly independent Scottish government could do so much better than going cap-in-hand to London for the investment capital needed to cure the problem; and finally, many are appalled at the brain-drain of our youth and other depopulation, leaving us an ageing, feeble and helpless people. In other words it’s more than a desire for a Scandinavian-style democracy/economy – it’s the desire to run a proper modern civilised economy in a modern world. It’s the knowledge that we could do so much better than those incompetents in Westminster.
    The real appetite for independence will arise when the Scottish electorate see the mess that Brexit inflicts on the country and connect it with the real incompetence of the third-rate fools down there.
    There’s no point in slating the SNP. In my branch, they are all hot ‘yessers’. During the referendum, the SNP office was turned into a ‘YES’ shop, with all of the items for sale bought and paid for by the SNP If it wasn’t for the legions of SNP supporters, myself included, leafleting, canvassing door-to-door and by phone for ‘YES’ the result would not have been so close. So if you think that you can do away with the human resources and financial support of the SNP in the cause for independence, keep on slating the party and see if you can come up with someone as popular and astute as Nicola Sturgeon for a leader. If you dismiss the SNP, another referendum will be a waste of time.

  22. yesindyref2 says:

    The chances are high of Indy Ref 2 before 29th March 2019, and almost certain before the end of any transition period for Brexit, what still isn’t certain is Brexit itself, or even that it will take Scotland with it. That’s what the current hiatus is all about.

    There are lots of different views out there including this article, what is important is that when Indy Ref 2 is announced we all put unite and go all out for YES.

  23. Paddy Farrington says:

    Blaming the SNP will get us precisely nowhere. We really need to think far more strategically about building a broader movement for independence – for example, winning greater support among the trade union movement and labour party voters. In view of the toxic hostility to the SNP prevalent in parts of the Labour movement, the SNP are not in the best position to do this. It’s up to us – including you, Gerry – to build those bridges, have those conversations, organise those events. And it is happening. It might not be very visible, nor should it be, necessarily: no mass movement can be kept for years in the state of mobilisation achieved in 2014. But the evidence is there for those who choose to see it, such as the mass demo last year in Glasgow, or the SIC in Edinburgh. We need to build those alliances, beyond the SNP, so that independence becomes a commonsense idea.

  24. Paul Maclaren says:

    The wider Yes movement are quick to inform us all that Independence is more than the SNP, yet the party are a convenient chopping board for frustrations relating to Independence. When the party required to be more radical, the recent program for government was unleashed; and prior to that, when a second referendum was demanded, the SNP put the mechanisms into place before Theresa May swiftly announced a snap General Election.

    It’s easy to vent frustrations at the SNP, but here’s a party who are already commissioning reports (including the Growth Commission) regarding the feasibility and foundations of Scotland sustaining and potentially progressing as an Independent country.

    While there are plenty of organizations such as the Common Weal and Business for Scotland still working hard to supply the public with economic and sustainable information regarding Independence, it’s time people stepped up and concentrated their efforts on progressing the argument for Independence through their own vision and means, rather than criticizing the SNP, who (indyref2 proposals aside) for all intents and purposes have correctly followed a cautious road since that devastating result in 2014.

    Without the SNP, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity in 2014 and there are no pro-Independence political party even close to challenging the party. So rather than challenging loyalties to that party, its time for this author and other commentators to focus frustrations elsewhere and use them positively in order to convince the majority of Scotland that yes!..we can and will do this.

  25. D W says:

    “failure to put together a new improved independence prospectus” – that’s a blessing in disguise. The simple fact is, practically nobody read the 2014 prospectus because it looked akin to reading War & Peace! Brexit was won on a bag of lies printed in a 4 sided sheet of paper. What does that tell you? Yes we need one, but we also need the abbreviated version, and that needs to be distributed a month before the vote.

    The simple fact is that an independent body needs to write the next independence prospectus, have it reviewed with constructive input/criticism by Scottish voters, BEFORE it gets a buy in from the SNP & Greens. This then needs to be boiled down to key points and distributed to everyone across Scotland in an easy-on-the-eye format with the option to dive in and get details ONLINE. This needs to cover all the issues that were used as distractions by Westminster – such as monetary policy and pensions. If the prospectus is independent, written by experts in their field – and people who call Scotland their love and home, then what does the MSM have to beat it down with? They can’t blame the SNP if the SNP didn’t write it! They can’t get away with ignoring experts if they have a respected and credible background. This needs to be happening now, and the pro-indy umbrella should be focused on organising this.

    The 43% figure was obtained through YouGov, which I was briefly a member of until I couldn’t stomach it – you have to be a cold blooded Conservative to not be repulsed by some of the questions they ask. So that should tell you something about the figures they spout. Might I suggest the Scottish media ignore YouGov until you’ve investigated who finances it?

    One thing we all ignore is that the only generation that really pays attention to the printed media and the BBC/Sky/STV propaganda, and thats the older generations. The younger generations don’t get their information from any of these sources, which is why they’re more likely to vote for Indy. The problem we have today is how do we get these younger Scots involved and vote. Focus the energy on them, and ignore the constant pointless drivel from the older diehard unionists – the energy expended on them is a wasted effort.

    1. John Stuart Wilson says:

      “This needs to cover all the issues that were used as distractions by Westminster – such as monetary policy and pensions. ”

      One man’s “distractions” are another man’s deciding factors.

      The stuff that Alex Salmond said about forcing the UK into a currency union was beyond belief. Money is not just a medium of exchange, it is also a store of value, and on both these counts Alex Salmond repulsed tens of thousands of voters who recognised that he was hiding what he really had in mind about currency.

      Salmond and Sturgeon also issued a paper saying that after independence pensions would become the sole responsibility of the new government…but were then unable to explain how they be paid for given the scale of the other spending promises they were making. When the Greek government got over-extended, pensioners were the first and the hardest hit. It doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagine to see the same thing happening here.

    2. DaveM says:

      YouGov, like all other research companies, are ‘financed’ by clients commissioning them to carry out research. If they plough some of their profits in to funding their own questions, they could be breaking industry rules because research companies are supposed to be objective and neutral. That’s not to say they can’t do so if they are simply curious as an organisation about where the public stands on particular issues; but if they do so in order to pursue a political agenda of their own then they would be in breach of British Polling Council and Market Research Society regulations, would lose any relevant industry accreditations, and then lose business, participants and credibility.

    3. Wul says:

      I think your suggestions are excellent. We need basic, simple to understand and appealling information which lists the potential of an independant Scotland. Gives people something to get excited about and want to vote for.

      Policy papers from Common Weal and big, wordy pieces from Pat Kane are all very well but your average guy working on a building site has feck all interest in reading that stuff and finds it a real turn-off.

      There’s a reason why tabloids keep their message simple; it works. Let’s copy their tactics. I can’t believe no one is working on this stuff. It just seems so fucking obvious.

      1. ben madigan says:

        here you go – a first attempt at tabloid -style arguments for Scottish Independence !
        Mixed in with a bit of Irish!

        https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2018/01/05/telling-westminster-whats-what/

  26. Greg says:

    The general technical competence of the SNP in government really just suggests that running the Scottish Government isn’t that difficult. If you can keep the lights on when running Scotland is a distant third place priority behind independence and taking lots of selfies, imagine what a resurgent Labour/Liberal coalition could do with their previous complacency destroyed and their focus entirely on the job.

    Forget independence – the end of the SNP era could be a very good thing indeed.

  27. Footsoldier says:

    At 75 I am getting a bit past it but my lifelong ambition is Scottish independence. A member of the SNP and always will be, I see little they are doing which will bring it about. Forget running a competent government, that’s what all parties want to do and fail and they usually get ejected down the line.

    It’s bigger than that and economics WILL NOT win the argument but may lose it (perhaps an oxymoron).

    Completely lacking is history, passion and what could be. Point out to me, anyone, countries that achieved independence in order to have a bit more dosh in their pockets or better services. I dare you; list them.

    1. cyril mitchell says:

      So true. So many not passionate enough. 300 odd years of indocrination and media control does not help,

  28. Willie says:

    Too many complacent time servers I’m afraid.

    The SNP is full of these types now,and unless the party can get rid of these freeloaders, they will be the party’s downfall.

    Independence is becoming remoter by the day.

    1. David Allan says:

      I totally agree with your comment. Nicola is a good campaigner, I’m afraid she by herself isn’t going to provide the decisive shift in public opinion she just isn’t good enough.

      People are not being won over as there remains doubt in their minds over our ability to survive a split from the RUK . They don’t read material from common weal or Bella or the National and disappointingly as in 2014 they don’t actively seek to attend YES or Pro-Indy meetings.

      They (the doubters) remain reliant on the MSM whose unchallenged bias is evident each evening news program delivering the daily diet of Scottish Failure.

      The Brexit issue in itself isn’t enough unless combined with a credible positive and factual vision of a Scottish alternative .

      How that message will be delivered in the continuing presence of overwelming media bias – I just can’t see a way to positively persuade those that we need to change to YES.

      Unlike Catalonia the widespread desire for change just ain’t there.

      After 2014 I actually believed that the UK gov would make an effort to stimulate inward investment creating good manufacturing jobs in Scotland. Thereby proving that voting NO was the correct decision Scotland was indeed “better together” part of the UK with it’s “Broad Shoulders”. and killing the debate once and for all.

      The fact that Westminster has failed to deliver any dividend is insulting to say the least .

      Why my fellow Scot’s fail to recognise this is entirely because of continuing efforts of an unchallenged unionist compliant “Cap in Hand” Scottish Media.

  29. Brian says:

    All of this comment and discussion is going inside a 45%-49% (if polls are to be believed) bubble of support for Independence. (Despite a heartless, incompetent govt in WM for last 7 years.)
    It’s the media, stupid. A relentless barrage of pro union, anti Scotland/SNP/SG propaganda seems now to be increasing in volume. Until that changes forget any high flown plans about re-energising the independence cause.
    And the SNP even helps the print media with “Christmas Boxes” of prepackaged news, just so their staff can get some time off from their fearless independent “journalism”.

  30. Juteman says:

    The British State was caught unprepared by the Yes dominance of the internet at Indyref1. They have learned their lesson. You just need to look at all the folk that now post on indy sites pretending to be Yes voters, but are simply trying to sow discord and dishearten people. Be aware, and don’t fall for their tactics.

  31. Bob Waugh says:

    Right to the end of the article I was waiting for Gerry Hassan to put some flesh on the bones of his vision, but as others have said, all we get are generalities. If Gerry were to put this stuff on a leaflet and stand for election, he might find himself pressured quite impolitely to say what he meant…..

    That is sad on several fronts. The first one is that whatever the intent of this article may or may not have been, it is unlikely that many SNP members and supporters will be won over by what it is suggesting – as it does very little of that. It is not clear what position Hassan would have the SNP take on Europe/the EU. (Not the same thing, by the way). Nor is is very clear what the “new politics” he is so keen of would comprise – other than being new of course. Nor does the carping tone invite SNP members to at least consider new ideas, even to “engage” with “outside the box” ideas .

    So, if this article does not articulate a different vision for the Scottish Independence movement, does that mean we can ignore it? I’d suggest not. Hassan is not wrong about the current impasse; he puts his finger on something. But what?

    The answer, I suggest, is that “the Left” across Europe still knows better what we are against than what we want to see done. The SNP’s progressive credentials are based on a repackaging of mid-20th century social-democratic ideas in a form that gave the independence movement elecral credibility and a sound basis for taking on government. The problem is that this ideological position reflects a bygone age of Keynesian economics and welfarism before the widening of the “world market” to include “new economies” based on illiberal forms of government ruthlessly pursing economic growth. It also sits uneasy with the Green critiques of modem society – anticapitalist, yes, but based on a different paradigm. Nor does it sit easily with developments in technology that suggest a world is coming in which human labour power may be a smaller part of “the economy” than we have been used to.

    The first thing to say is that this is not a problem unique to the SNP – it is a description of social-democracy’s dilemmas across the continent. Perhaps it is significant that Hassan does not even begin to consider how the Labour party in Scotland is facing such challenges.

    The second thing is to admit that no-one so far has got an utterly convincing answer to the coming challenges. On Friday I attended the Clement Attlee Memorial Lecture in Oxford given by Paul Mason, author of “Postcapitalism” and known to be an economic adviser to Corbyn’s Labour. It was fascinating, not least because it seemed he was thinking out – in the course of the lecture – how Labour might rise to the challenges of carving out a “new view of society”. The kindest verdict could only be – work in progress.

    If the article had identified that work and said – this is what we need to discuss and debate, these are the kinds of things that need to happen, and in Scotland the question is how does the drive to Independence relate to it – that at least we’d have something to start with. Instead we are left with the impression that if Gerry has any ideas about what should happen, he’s keeping them to himself.

    1. Mike Vickers says:

      I’m sorry but I have to agree

  32. Clive Scott says:

    Nicola and her senior team have done the hard yards to get indy to where it is now and sniping from the back of the hall surely is doing the red/blue toady unionists work for them. I do wish the SNP would treat BBC interviewers and the MSM generally with aggressive highly personalised contempt however I daresay the wiser heads in Nicola’s team have in mind the disengaged potentially floating voter who might be watching or reading rather than cheering up the committed indy supporter such as me.

  33. gerry hassan says:

    Just like to thank everyone for their comments and time on this thread.

    Lots of interesting, informed and challenging observations and provocations. Will take time to read them later tonight and tomorrow.

    A culture of independence has to have independent thought and an ecology and practice of self-determination – which is the sort of spirit and attitude which Bella at its best personifies. So thanks again everyone.

  34. Martin McAndrew says:

    I just thing we need to keep our spirits and our positivity up, I do agree that there has been a bit of discord sown at times

  35. Gert says:

    Excellent analysis

  36. G says:

    Replace the word “independence” in this article with “democracy”.

    That is, literally, what we are talking about. Scotland is not a democracy. The U.K. is not a federal system. We do not have a veto, like we would as a member of the EU.

    The only way to get the (Westminster) government we vote for is to vote the same way as the English electorate. This means voting for an English party, governed in England by English members, and with policies geared towards winning over English voters.

    In my experience, Scottish unionists are often against independence precisely because they think the English electorate is more reliable than the Scottish electorate. It’s a rejection of democracy for Scotland, grounded in centuries of colonial thinking and cultural cringe.

    I’m no Brexiteer, but there was a simplicity and honesty in the phrase “taking back control”. Laws that were agreed between multiple countries will now be decided by the English electorate. Democracy that was ceded to Europe will once again rest with Middle England.

  37. Wul says:

    “What is Independence the Answer To?”

    It’s an answer to the creeping dehumanisation of our society driven by people who worship money.

  38. Scrum5 says:

    SNP lost some seats at GE2017, and lost some of its best MPs in the process. Theresa May called the GE to increase her majority at a time Labour was believed to be weak, but I believe that she also hoped to make some ground in Scotland at SNP expense, to try to break the Independence movement. She certainly succeeded in making ground, but has not broken the Independence movement, and she was taken by surprise with the surge in support for Labour in England, which cost her her majority in Parliament and forced her into a deal with DUP that, aside from winning divisions on Brexit votes, has left her hostage to further demands.

    In Scotland the GE was fought by Unionist parties not on Westminster issues, but on the prospectus of no second referendum on Independence. SNP attempts to raise the issues within the competence of the UK Gov were drowned out by an incessant barrage from print and broadcast media including BBC even in TV debates talking about Holyrood issues. Despite all that, Brexit is supported by Tories and Labour, and seems inevitable. The SNP’s paper “Scotland’s Place In Europe” was produced to demonstrate the impact that Brexit is likely to have on the Scottish economy, and to seek common ground with the UK Gov to protect Scotland’s economy, given that a clear majority of Scottish voters wished to remain in the EU. This has been ignored to date with UK Gov voting down any and all attempts to amend the UKWB.

    Scotgov’s focus so far has been on trying to mitigate the damage from Brexit and not on Indyref, though the FM has never ruled out that option. When the Indyref campaign does get going, polls show it will start from where it left off in 2014, and can demonstrate an ability to govern the country well given declining budgets, a minority administration, and a hostile media. Work has started already around the country, building the movement across parties, and I know this time it will be more focused than before. The Unionist movement will be damaged by Brexit, with job losses, wage stagnation and attacks on civil and human rights. All the threats from 2014 have come to pass anyway, and promises have not been kept.

  39. Scrum5 says:

    SNP lost some seats at GE2017, and lost some of its best MPs in the process. Theresa May called the GE to increase her majority at a time Labour was believed to be weak, but I believe that she also hoped to make some ground in Scotland at SNP expense, to try to break the Independence movement. She certainly succeeded in making ground, but has not broken the SNP, who still have a clear majority of Scottish MPs, and she was taken by surprise with the surge in support for Labour in England, which cost her her majority in Parliament and forced her into a deal with DUP that, aside from winning divisions on Brexit votes, has left her hostage to further demands.

    Scotgov’s focus so far has been on trying to mitigate the damage from Brexit and not on Indyref, though the FM has never ruled out that option. When the Indyref campaign does get going, polls show it will start from where it left off in 2014, and can demonstrate an ability by SNP to govern the country well given declining budgets, a minority administration, and a hostile media. Work has started already around the country, building the movement across parties, and this time it will be more focused than before. The Unionist movement will be damaged by Brexit, with job losses, wage stagnation and attacks on civil and human rights. All the threats from 2014 have come to pass anyway, and promises have not been kept.

  40. Gerry Hassan says:

    A brief explanation on the ‘Nordic social democracy’ comment.

    First, I do understand the use of Nordic as in Nordic Horizons et al – as a mobilising story and search for an alternative.

    Second, it tells a story of Scotland as a northern nation – connecting and collaborating with our northern Nordic neighbours.

    There are at least two problems with it: one solvable, one less so. First, if Scotland wanted to be a Nordic social democracy it is within the powers and ambitions of the Scottish Govt to incrementally make moves towards being a state informed by Nordic socdem principles: a partnership state – where social actors and agents had key roles in relationships and influencing an economic and social agenda very unlike that of the UK or Scotland.

    Second, the bigger barrier is that people use Nordic not just as a mobilising story and guide but as a totalising story. An example would be the numerous meetings in the indyref where people would ask: ‘Why cant we be Nordic?’ Nordic-ness and Nordic socdem is something which Scotland cannot import wholesale. Nordic-ness is made up of some big things: it is a geography and set of nations and communities, they have histories, shared cultures, there is the role of religion and other traditions. We cant just import that and suddenly download it as a computer file. It would the same as Ireland in the bubble and its finance capital elites repositioning itself closer to the US.

    What I am guarding against is unrealistic system change that we can just junk our own unique cultures, stories and histories and buy into what we think is a more principled one. Then there are the realities of different Nordic models and the fact that across the Nordics it is in retreat versus the forces of neo-liberalism: witness lots of Tories and UK right-wingers praising Swedish education vouchers or how the country reformed in 1994-95 in the interests of finance capital. And I haven’t mentioned the sad state of European social democracy.

    Final positive point. All this Nordic-ness is anchored in the historical reality that nations over the years geo-politically move, adapt and make themselves anew. Think of Turkey over the centuries and today. Scotland can and is repositioning itself. We can have a new golden age of co-operating with our northern friends and neighbours. We can tell ourselves as I once put it in the Demos think-tank futures project ‘hopeful stories of a northern nation.’

    But truth is we will have many stories as a nation: including geo-politically. Wanting to be exclusively Nordic or raising the illusion of Nordic social democracy IMHO gets in the way of real difficult change here and how we do the hard graft of the re-emergence of Scotland as an international player and an agent on the world stage. Isnt that challenging, exciting and daunting enough?

    1. Crubag says:

      I always found the Nordic thing to be rather odd, especially as right next door, and closely intertwined with us, we have a working example of an independent (allowing for EU membership…) state that left the UK: the Republic of Ireland.

      It’s got pluses and minuses, but if anyone wanted to understand the challenges and opportunities of being a near self-governing state, while still closely linked economically, culturally and demographically with the rUK, then it is to the Republic you would look.

      As for timing of indy2, I think Nicola Sturgeon is a cautious politician, in the mould of Merkel (it was her social democratic predecessor Schroeder who did the hard work), and it won’t come in her time.

      The greatest failure in 2014 was the absence of an economic plan. The Growth Commission was meant to plug that hole, but although the report is meant to have been delivered, from a party political viewpoint, in the short-term, there is never going to be a good time to publish it. It will have winners and losers and be open to challenge.

      From an indy viewpoint, it might as well be published now, and start the long-game of arguing the best way forward.

  41. Bob Costello says:

    Absolutely spot on Gerry, and I and others have been saying this ever since the last independence referendum. The SNP gained immeasurably after the referendum on the back of the disappointment of losing, and since then they have been the beneficiaries of circumstance. Unfortunately, they retreated to a bunker after the referendum and they are still there. They have missed countless opportunities to further the cause of independence including answering the issues we lost the last one on, such as pensions borders and most importantly the monetary situation. They failed to allow the continuance of a low-level campaign to get the message over, regarding these issues. They also failed spectacularly, to include in any of their election manifestoes the intention to wrest control of the ability to hold and organize future referendums from Westminster to Holyrood. Apart from the 2015 General Election Nicola Sturgeon has presided over one election setback after another. It is not a good thing to have a man and Wife team at the controls of a political party and it is time both went> I wrote a blog the day before Nicola Sturgeon produced her answer to Brexit. I called it “A roadmap to Unionism” I then wrote another blog the following day and called it, ” I told you so ” Nicola Sturgeon, it would appear is trying to save the Union with her policy on Brexit. I attach them below.

    https://bobsblog.scot/2016/12/20/i-told-you-so/

    1. Bert Logan says:

      I think you are misreading everything here, almost to the detriment of a simpler debate.

      After the #indyref there a multitude of new elections, every one of which was driven by the same anti-SNP/anti-indy biased media. Im amazed people forget that there is no pro-indy media (save 1 paper), and that TV broadcast media is wholly Brit.

      Convincing people in the maelstrom of disinformation and lies is not easy, one chat in a pub or one doorstep meet is swamped thereafter by Brit media. There is a reason why dictatorships and invading powers take control of the media ASAP.

      They have not ‘missed’ countless opportunities, they have played a long game that appears to be working – the Brits are a mess, a real disaster of historically unmatched proportions. To push the issue into ‘wresting control’ would feed the MSM exactly what they want – ‘fear the revolutionaries – the soft terrorists’.

      I love the fact that we can ‘speculate’ about an independent Scotland, but who – please tell me, has got us this far, almost to the brink?

      The cart before the horse is not smart.

      1. Bob Costello says:

        I do not think I am misleading in the least and I stand by everything I say. This “long game” is nothing more than an excuse and to imply that this is all part of a clever plan is nonsense. The SNP are all over the place as far as independence goes and they have let the people of Scotland down very badly. Why is it what they have not even tried to pave the way for any future referendum by doing the things I say. I am afraid you are an apologist for a party that has lost the way, Bert.

      2. Geacher says:

        A few points here….MSM reporting about the mess of Police Scotland and the falling standards of Education (for example) is not a “maelstrom of disinformation and lies,” it’s the truth, but conveniently to blame as bias is the nationalist’s way.
        Also “they have played a long game that appears to be working” How so? Polls show desire for independence has fallen to 43% and the wish for another referendum is below 40%. You have also lost your majority in Holyrood and 21 MPs and 480,000 votes. How is this long game working exactly?
        Finally “the Brits are a mess” I have to remind you that you, me everyone here are Brits.

        1. Rentaghost says:

          Seems to be going adequately. The notion that support for independence has dropped to 43% is based on one poll, one pollster, one methodology. In this case the drop is about 1% (well within Margin of Error, it’d require another YG poll to confirm if there really was a drop) from the previous YG poll. A Panelbase poll asking a slightly different question a few weeks previously had support at 49%. So we seem to be in a continuum of 43-49% presently. 50% for Indy has been broken on three polls in the last two years, in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, and later in one poll, after Sturgeon’s invocation of the second referendum.

          It should be noted that support for Indy is now leading support for the SNP. That at least points to the underlying attractiveness of the concept beyond party politics. As for people wanting another referendum? Again, from the polling more people would say yes, than would actually want it in the first place. Thus, their reticence to another referendum is not an indicator of how they’d vote. Generally speaking – and particularly now, after a crowded election cycle – people don’t want to go through more rounds of politics (who can blame them). However, it is obviously not a good indicator of how people would vote if there was one, and more importantly the people already voted for a Scottish government who ran on a manifesto of having one if they felt they needed to, and who command a majority to enact that very legislation.

          The loss of 21 MPs, is certainly a blow, though not one below the SNP waterline. In many respects it’s a reversion to mean, and it was the ’15 election that was the freak, an outporing of frustration that powered the SNP to demolish all in it’s way. The SNP Westminster campaigns are typically listless, post devolution it’s never been their primary means of pursuing independence (59 out of 650 in all but very close elections is useless). The North East brexit switchers to the Tories is by far the worst element of that result. In the middle of the Corbyn bounce it should be noted that most central belt SNP votes in 15 who didn’t vote for them in 17 didn’t vote at all. Indeed, Labour one several seats in the central belt where there total number of votes went down, but their percentage share went up enough to win. The 17 election was a nadir for the SNP, lacking a good hook and message, yet left them by far the largest party.

          I think there is a way to Indy, a 50% +1 route by appealing to the left, and the rise of Corbyn has either forced the SNP to cover it’s left flank, or has allowed Sturgeon to tend closer to her own convictions depending on who you ask. The income tax changes (which polling suggests is popular) is but one distinct expression of the Scottish mood vis a vis the UK. The setting up of a public owned energy company and the Scottish investment bank are further, welcome signs of ambition on behalf of the Scottish government. if that’s the route taken, then fine, pick more fights where possible, enact distinct legislation, abstract and simple. reinforce the message. On the other hand, I think more needs to be made of the simple intrinsic value of independence beyond the idea of permanent left wing haven. As much as I enjoyed Paul Mason’s Post Capitalism book, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to campaign on it. The ability to make your own choices has to be central to any new Indy push. Something Brexit outlines quite distinctly. It may be that only after employee rights are demolished, food standards abolished and trade tarriffs enacted (or indeed, Scottish fishermen and others are thrown to the wolves in order to save the City of London) that people see the utility in being able to make choices for themselves, and Like Allan Bissett I can’t see how Sturgeon cannot go before 2021, and her own language has not contained the more obvious signs of backpedalling that it might have.

          The SNP are not the be all and end all of the Indy movement, they will never be left wing enough for some, who will continue to flirt with Corbyn’s Labour (despite his seeming ignorance of Scotland). Understandable. RISE was not exactly a success, and indeed the movement, rather than any party need to start campaigning themselves. A lot of what made ’14 a relatively close run thing began organically, on the ground. It’s hard to see how you get folk motivated to do that outside of an actual campaign which can only start with the SNP. Like the Navy Admirals at Jutland, the SNP might not be able to win the war themselves, but they are the only ones who can lose it in an afternoon. Some amount of understanding between SNP and non SNP Indy activists would be welcome.

        2. Interpolar says:

          Hmm. I think you are choosing the version of facts most convenient to your position. In terms of support for independence you have adopted the lowest numbers you could find, and are probably apples and oranges. You are saying more people want independence than a referendum on the issue. Unlikely. Then, there is still an Indy majority in Holyrood. SNP is not the only act I’m town. Then despite a bad campaign and losses, the SNP were still much better than Merkel‘s „victory” (BBC) in the recent Bundestag elections. The force for independence is still very much alive.

  42. Brooster says:

    Scotland is in danger of becoming a hooliganocracy since our politicians have ceded so much power to hatemongers like Wings over Scotland etc.

    Scottish Independence simply won’t happen while Indy supports continue to insult the 55% of the population who voted against by calling them “Yoons”. The dogmatic and ignorant monochrome bigotry that used to be part of our national sport has simply moved into our national debate.

    I grew up believing that the people who ran our country understood better than I did what it took to run a country and had the moral courage of their convictions and I was wrong. Our leaders are too terrified to address the extremists on their own sides: both sides.

    It’s interesting that Burns did not address British or English imperialism as much as the parcel of rogues in our own nation. I don’t want to live in a country run by charlatans or witch doctors regardless of whose flag they wrap themselves in.

    The problem with populism is that it’s end goal is that people get to empower politicians who are as stupid as they are hence Donald Trump. We are not so far behind.

    1. Juteman says:

      “I grew up believing that the people who ran our country understood better than I did what it took to run a country”
      The Cringe is strong in you.

  43. Geacher says:

    I wrote above about how Sturgeon’s utterances and the pettiness of her policies are detrimental to the separatist movement….well whoops, she did it again. Ordering the removal of the union flag from government buildings will no doubt keep the anti-English cadre of the SNP happy, but it will do nothing to change the mind of the 200,000 voters that you guys need to gain independence. Well done Nicola, you’re doing a grand job.

    1. Bert Logan says:

      Oooh fake news. And here you are pushing that fake. Pathetic.

      1. Geacher says:

        Check it out Bert…. the wording has changed from 2017 to 2018… it’s all there on ScotGov’s website. Whether Sturgeon knew about it or not is another matter, but the wording has changed. She is the gift that keeps on giving.

      2. Julian Smith says:

        Brooster would call that “hatemongering”.

        1. Brooster says:

          No there’s nothing wrong with robust debate. Hatemongering is probably more along the lines of saying “All old soldiers should be killed” when the British Legion complain about the front page of a computer magazine picturing a wreath of poppies using the tagline “War has never been such fun” on Remembrance Sunday.

  44. Dougie McPhail says:

    “Scottish politics are currently in what can only be described as a phoney war – a becalmed period of inertia and inactivity in-between the storms that buffet politics. ”

    Disagree with this.

    SNP are managing a country under forced and cruel austerity, whilst the bbc, stv and press have a free hand at exagerating issues they can lay at the SNP’s door, whetether true or false. Truth or fact is the last thing on a brit nat jock journos’ mind. The bbc and press have been on a crusade against the SNP since 2014, often spilling over from attacking the SNP to attacking Scotland and our rights as a nation.

    Meanwhile we see the bbc, stv and press avoid publishing stories damaging to the union (e.g. brexit bill going to lords with no support from any Scottish party and Mrs May’s dire performance) or as in recent days putting the blame on the SNP, e.g. PFI and Edinburgh Trams, Simultaneously we have an increase in royal stories, remembering wars, plucky brits sporting achievements and France is coming round to uk’s way of thinking – aye right. Remebering also, the uk government has no strategy of what it wants the uk to be post brexit, other than continued colonisation and pacification of Scotland.

    We have another nine months to see what brexit means, fragmenting will not serve us well, it only plays into to unionist hands who thrive on divide and rule – do we need remembering of this!

    Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP will be judged on their actions in October. I suggest we all try to help form that strategy in October through informing those in power in Scotland rather than joining the bbc, stv plus press and attacking them!

    P.S. I believe in remembering those that lost their lives or served in conflicts, but I am against it being used as a british nationalistic tool to sway opinion and build up nationalistic feeling against EU neighbours whilst exiting the EU.

  45. Gordon McAuslane says:

    @Footsoldier, Cyril Mitchell, Willie and Dave Allan.
    Name a freeloader. It’s quite difficult to be a freeloader in the SNP. Membership and branch subs have to be paid and everyone is expected to campaign, unless they are old or unfit.
    And, Dave Allan, there is little that the SNP can do against BBC and MSM propaganda who try to nit-pick the minute failures of the Scottish Government down to things like ‘people were left lingering in hospital corridors last night’ leaving the reader/listener to find out for himself that it was two people, and the rest were adequately dealt with. Ruth Davidson should be asked if she would like the Scottish Health service to lower its standards to those of the English one run by her party.
    Read ‘Wings’. The Rev deconstructs and corrects this kind of ordure.
    Contrary to what you and the MSM are saying, people’s experience of public services in Scotland has been good and this will be remembered come a referendum. I.e. we can run our own affairs very well without the hindrance of London.

  46. Graeme McCormick says:

    Whenever the opportunity for Indyref 2 arises all nationalists should be preparing themselves and the Scottish people for Independence.

    We must all act as if we are already independent and think Independence with every meaningful thing we do.

    I’d like Nicola to appoint a Cabinet Secretary for Independence to be responsible for the preparation.

    This would include using the legislative and hugely influential powers which the Scottish Parliament has to mitigate ,supplement or actively replace the policies of the U.K.

    We have the power to introduce Annual Ground Rent based per square metre and land type which can raise more than enough to provide a Universal Basic Income if £200 per week for everyone in Scotland while reducing taxation for most of us.

    Just imagine the huge psychological , economic, social and international wedge that would signify between us and rUK. Indeed the U.K. would collapse under the strain of curbing the resentment it would generate in the South.

    Success in a future referendum is about one thing: economic control. If your public services are wholly funded from your land then you insulate them from uK and global finances and guarantee and enhance the public services line pensions the fear of which was a major vote loser the last time.

    Equally we have to instil a confidence in the Haves in Scotland as they and we are the majority. The threat of substantial increased taxation through Independence is not a vote winner for voters who are not political Yessers. You have to provide the opportunity of enterprise and wealth creation which AGR delivers provided you replace the dead hand of Income Tax etc.

    1. Alf Baird says:

      “appoint a Cabinet Secretary for Independence ” and “Annual Ground Rent”

      Great idea Graeme. Perhaps related to this I have previously proposed the creation of Shadow Ministries for Reserved Powers, led by SNP MP’s. Both would show intent, and commitment to the cause. That Cabinet Secretary should familiarise themselves with the UN, and make the latter and the rest of the world more informed of Scotland’s intent. Annual Ground Rent is another great idea which thus far the SNP has refused to embrace. I would be less interested in “the Haves in Scotland” – who mostly vote unionist and will likely continue to oppose independence till beyond the time Scotland is irreversibly hollowed out. The main challenge we face now is the SNP’s intransigence and unwillingness to do anything remotely radical for fear of ‘scaring the horses’ (i.e. msm and No voters mainly) however they forget that independence is itself radical and needs positive innovative action. I would add that these are the kind of positive ideas that Gerry seemed unable (or unwilling) to propose, and can be implemented now.

      1. John S Warren says:

        I think that it would be fair to say that the Scottish Land Commission, set up by the Scottish Government is aware of, and as I understand, currently assessing Annual Ground Rent. This is not a guarantee, but it is progress.

        1. Alf Baird says:

          A hae ma doots, John. SLC looks much like the usual Scottish Tory Establishment-run put it into the very long grass strategy. If there is no Minister for Land Reform then there is no strategy. A bit like independence.

  47. Wul says:

    Citizens of the UK have had their country’s wealth stolen from under their noses for hundreds of years. If people realised the true extent of this theft, and how much they and their families have suffered as a result, it could make them a lot more open to independence.

    Look at the size of the British Empire. All that wealth, for hundreds of years, from all those massive countries and continents, flowing into the tiny, little UK like a river of gold.

    Where did it go? What did it buy? Where’s the evidence, as you walk up the main street of Coatbridge that this town is part of the richest island in the world?

    We need simple to understand information showing just how much wealth is extracted by so few people. We need simple, accessible (pictures and words of one syllable) graphics showing what our country could be like if it was run as if ordinary people mattered.

    I live in the 6th richest country in the world. The bins in my local park are overflowing with dogshit and ice lies on the roads and pavements for days because “there’s no money” to deal with it. Something is very, very wrong with this picture.

    Should I blame the Polish builders who leave for work at 6:30am every day from the house next door or the posh, unelected, ruling c***s in fur capes who make laws to enrich themselves and their ancestors?
    It seems an easy question to me, but millions of UK citizens are blaming the Polish builders.

    1. Wul says:

      I apologise for the crude language in the above post. It was unnecessary.

      Lords in ermine are people too. I was tired and frustrated and fed up being in Great Britain.

  48. Robert Graham says:

    Beginning to Question some apperently Independence supporting people,

    I remember this particular site by supporting RISE was instrumental in denying the only party that can ever deliver Independence the SNP their overall majority in Holyrood , so what’s yer problem Bella not getting the funding or attention you desire

    1. Crubag says:

      RISE were the proverbial up like a rocket, down like stick. But even their zenith wasn’t that high. About 10,000 votes about a 0.5% share of the total vote. Not enough to pain anyone.

      I think SNP losses are just part of the cost of being the party of government. Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher won first past the post three elections on the trot, but each time with a reduced majority.

      1. Indeed the electoral impact of RISE was completely miniscule and the idea that this blog deprived Scotland of an indy supporting majority by occasionally covering their ideas is monumentally stupid.

    2. Alf Baird says:

      “instrumental in denying the only party that can ever deliver Independence the SNP their overall majority in Holyrood”

      Robert, the SNP were advised prior to the Holyrood election that their ‘SNPx2’ strategy was a shoe-in for the Tories and that is exactly what happened. Under the D. Hondt system the SNP could easily have proposed an alternative collaborative strategy to easily see that threat off, such as: ‘SNP1/IndyGreens 2’, or ‘SNP1/new indy party2’. The independence vote could have then yielded a much bigger return of MSP’s had it been properly harnessed. As a few astute commentators predicted, the independence second/list vote was mostly wasted because of SNPx2.

  49. David Wood says:

    Hassan raises an important point with his initial question. No harm in that at all. However, his ramblings simply left me confused as to what his point was, other than put some words together to say something.

  50. Redgauntlet says:

    I find Gerry’s obsession with this idea that there are things we can’t talk about somewhat baffling and an excuse for his usual waffle. Sorry Gerry, nothing personal…

    Has there ever been a time in human history when we could talk so freely given we have the internet?

    I agree with John Stuart Wilson. 51% is not enough for independence. You can’t set up a new State with a one point margin. It’s nuts. It won’t happen. The inertia of almost half the population will put paid to it.

    You know, if the Scots don’t want independence, what can you do? Maybe you have to devote your time and your energy to other causes? There are a lot of good causes out there. Or maybe just fall into silence..

    Nicola is caught in a cleft-stick. She has to run Scotland and simultaneously argue that we should leave the Union. She’s a good woman, Nicola, and I think she has a very hard job. I appreciate her work and she is one of the few leading politicians who doesn’t make you embarrassed to have voted for her… she’s a decent woman.

    Me, personally, I would have forced an election in Scotland on the back of England’s lunatic decision to leave the EU… I would be using the EU as a hammer to beat them with. But what do we get? We get an audit from the SNP on the costs of Brexit to Scotland. That is never something which will win you independence, or even one vote…

    But let’s face facts; if after the Brexit shambles, we still don’t have even a minimum majority, maybe it’s not going to happen? You know? Maybe we have to be Scottish in a different way.

    That’s what McIlvanney and Kelman did back in the 80’s after we lost the Home Rule referendum. They devoted their energies to their art.

    You know, out track record on referendums is pretty bad in Scotland. We keep losing them, eh?

    Maybe Scotland is no longer Scotland and is now North Britain with a few dissident voices. Which was the founding idea of the Union. The thing about the Union with England is that it worked…

    The shame of it all…

    …the parcel of rogues are alive and well…

    1. Alf Baird says:

      “Maybe Scotland is no longer Scotland and is now North Britain with a few dissident voices. ”

      I see you’ve been studying the population census.

  51. David Allan says:

    Just to get things into perspective, a chat with a neighbour today revealed just how precarious the SNP vote is – having replaced an Alloy Wheel and Tyre due to impact damage with massive pothole: opinion on voting SNP next time had changed.

    His comment related to Taxation “ No point protecting lower earners when you have to pay £ 400 plus because the roads are in such as state” .

    The SNP vote
    cannot be taken for granted!

    And the roads are a national disgrace.

    Ruthy and the media will be on the case soon.

    1. mince'n'tatties says:

      Spot on David. The SNP no longer want to sweat the small stuff that means so much in ordinary peoples lives. Eg. The Volkswagon emissions scandal that has allowed the company to hide behind EU laws in denying over 80,000 Scots any form of redress.
      No compensation even considered for vehicle depreciation loss, whilst paying out billions [literally] elsewhere worldwide. And neer’ a peep from those who claim to speak for Scotland. Terrified of upsetting their future German controlled gravy train. Brexit hard or marshmallow soft won’t revitalise the independence vote but caring competence just might.

      1. mince'n'tatties says:

        Me again. No apologies. I was in the Saltire Bar [Livingston] when the MP that supposedly represents West Lothian..decided RAP antics in the HOC were the way to go. Jeezo. WTF. Talk about alienate. Talk about dissipating the Keiza jungle effect… Oh, and she happens to be the daughter of one of Salmond’s personal assistants. No cronyism there, right?

  52. Alan says:

    I agree with some of what Gerry writes. But some of what he argues here makes me think he’s smoking something.

    beyond the March 2017 attempt to advance a second indy referendum, in which she was out-manoeuvred by Theresa May and the UK Government.

    This is silly. May’s decision to call a GE had nothing to do with out-manoeuvring the Sturgeon and the SNP.

    Instead, the politics of imagining a different kind of state – and indeed a different kind of society and future – have been (however imperfectly) captured by the advent of the Corbyn Labour Party.

    Corbyn is imaging what he was imagining back in the 1970s. He’s delusional and so are the people who believe he’s going to deliver the great socialist Utopia. Another politician with a plan (see below).

    with a track record of competence, there has also been a conspicuous absence of any real radicalism or innovation in policy….It points to the SNP leadership being informed by a technocratic managerialism – the outlook that informed the list of achievements in the recent SNP PPB. But what it also points to is caution and conservatism

    God save us from politicians with radical, innovative plans (wise in their own conceits, as someone once said). Thatcher and neoliberalism. Very radical! Brexit, Empire 2.0. Radical and completely nuts. Boris, Rees-Mogg, et al. are all full of radical, innovative plans. When it comes to politicians be glad for the small mercies of “a track record of competence” and “technocratic managerialism”. Politicians with plans are a dangerous breed.

    1. Bryan Stuart says:

      The way Scotland is currently being run is fiscally unsustainable, and a dominant, complacent and controlling public sector kills off any challenge to the status quo (of which the SNP establishment is now comfortably part of). What proportion of SNP MSPs have public sector backgrounds?

      Here’s an example: the GTC is blocking perfectly able teachers from England practicing here, and point blank refuses to recognise that there needs to be positive discrimination to get more STEM subjects teachers. It’s acceptable to promote gender equity by playing a crude numbers game, but not to offer particularly scarce teachers higher pay.

      Or another example, Calmac, which runs huge, often near empty, ferries on unnecessarily long routes, and swallows up more and more subsidy. How de we keep paying for that in the future?

      The Scot Gov must take radical action to prove to the vast majority of the electorate that they have what it takes to run a prosperous independent country which ain’t based on having hydrocarbons to balance the books. Right now all we are getting looks like inertia and stagnation, and world markets will be much more sceptical about buying Scottish Goverment debt than the UK’s (with whom we share a massive structural deficit).

  53. Chris Downie says:

    Playing Devil’s Advocate here, consider the following:

    Consensus in Ireland was always that an independent Scotland would speed up Irish re-unification, yet Unionists lost their majority in a PR (STV) system last year, and the DUP clung on by a thread at the latest WM election (by completely usurping their milder Unionist rivals the UUP). Demographics have now tipped beyond the point of no return, with 4 of the 6 counties seeing Catholics outnumber Protestants (and in the other 2 counties, Belfast City has followed suit) and every border constituency firmly green. Overall, every age group under 45 is a very large majority Catholic over Protestant. In a nutshell, we are looking at Irish reunification within 20 years, if not sooner.

    Now, consider this:

    There are problems for Scotland’s Unionists and YES supporters like myself. On one hand, getting the dysfunctional province off the wage bill frees up £9BN a year, some of which may just come back to Scotland (no laughing at the back there, guys!) which may just soften the soft NO’s and harden entrenched NO’s, who would see their “Ah’m a’richt, Dod ye ken!” lifestyles only improve. Additionally, the “No Surrender!” brigade may relocate to Scotland, their ancestral homeland, thus boosting NO voting demographics.

    Conversely, seeing what was erstwhile the most belligerent, diehard identitarian part of the UK (outside SE England’s hardcore, at least) leave the Union may indeed be a blow which they may never recover from – and one that may make many even staunch NO’s re-consider their allegiances.

    Bottom line – the world is in a state of flux and I fear the SNP have not (yet?) made a case that will withstand the scrutiny of shifting sands, irrespective of the way the wind is blowing. Thoughts?

    1. Alf Baird says:

      Chris, some of what you say tends to confirm what I have been trying to argue, in that an individuals dominant cultural affinity will tend to outweigh economics (or any other general policy issue), and by a considerable margin, when it comes to high-level constitutional decisions, especially decisions regarding fundamentally changing one’s nationality and citizenship. If that change ‘fits’ with our culture then we will be more likely to accept it. If it does not ‘fit’, we will reject it. And, consequently, the (ever changing) cultural make-up of the voting population will be the ultimate deciding factor, at a given point in time.

  54. yesindyref2 says:

    Well, certainly caused some debate with this article!

  55. Moscow says:

    For most of us, i.e, the millions of ordinary folk, it’s about economics not politics.

    Will independence make me better off?

    Will life be fundamentally improved ?

    Because life isn’t that bad the answer to those questions is ‘probably not’

    So what’s the point of Independence again……..oh yes. it’s a vanity project for some second rate parochial politicians who are looking for relevance

    1. Eleanor Ferguson says:

      As I said earlier ,we are cushioned from the worst that the Tories can do at the moment,which works against Yes supporters as people feel quite comfortable without realising who is responsible.However there is a limit and as the Tories continue to impoverish
      people with no shame whatsoever- yet another UN report damning their welfare policies, who knows what is next for disabled and vulnerable and the Scottish Government can’t do everything when Westminster is in charge of finances

    2. Alf Baird says:

      I don’t think its about economics or politics; changing one’s nationhood is fundamentally dependent upon one’s dominant culture. Politics and economics is all pretty much fake news mumbo jumbo which nobody can depend on anyway. We are usually more certain about our dominant culture.

      1. Gordon G Benton says:

        Alf Baird: I feel you are right; Independence is less about economics or politics : we can surely govern ourselves when we look at our natural and human resources as compared with other 5 million populations around the world. Scotland is an average UN-sized Nation; nothing to be shy about. But we are Scots, with our own culture, our own dreams for our children and grandchildren, and we are in these respects quite different from the English. Nothing against them, but we look at the World through different eyes.

  56. SleepingDog says:

    There are dragons, some of them well-hidden, that gnaw away at political structures like envenomed Nidhogg at the roots of world-yew Yggdrasil. Political systems are not tested in laboratory conditions, and the more successful they are, the greater the threat they pose to rivals, and the more cruelly and quickly they are attacked by the imperialist powers of the day. These systems are no more discredited by successful undermining than any good example. You might think that history had shown hereditary monarchy to be the most ludicrous, unstable, dangerous obstruction to improved governance invented, yet it has its supporters and functions today. Archaic theocracies retain their appeal, somehow.

    Perhaps if people were to practice democracy within social institutions (rather than vote largely on party lines every few years), the ideas of social democracy would become familiar. Interestingly, some of the credit for democratising trades unions and political parties in the UK might be due to Margaret Thatcher, and some of the best understanding of democratic practice might lie within our secret police and intelligence services, whose job is to infiltrate and sway opinion to get the desired ‘democratic’ decision.

    This is why public insight into mechanisms is so important to democracy, just as customers learnt to watch for the grocer’s hand resting on the scales. I believe that anarchist groups tend to run workshops on collective decision-making, but I’m not aware of this being widely taught. You should expect large groups are compromised, and adjust accordingly.

    It would not surprise me that much of the SNP strategy was to maintain policies incorporating a broad church, keeping sharper discussions in-house, and try to look like a party of government, putting resolutions on defining/narrowing the shape of an independent Scotland on the back-burner; attempt to maintain party discipline, stave off encroaching corruption and complacency, and try to bring through competent office-holders; why do else at this moment?

    1. Alf Baird says:

      “why do else at this moment?”

      Because, in light of the census, the ‘No’ vote is constantly being boosted year-on-year (via in-migration) by people mainly coming from Scotland’s ‘administrative Power’, who tend to have little cultural affinity to Scotland, and hence have limited desire to support the Cause of Scottish statehood or Scottish citizenship?

      Other than this your comments are quite interesting, albeit they do seem written from an insider party political angle?

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Alf, you may have a point about changing demographics, although perhaps incomers can over time more strongly identify with their adopted culture than many natives, given appropriate welcome or incentive. My view is that worrying about demographics is close to believing that somehow gerrymandering the electorate might be a viable solution, rather than persuading people of whatever background, which is presumably the heart of the civic nationalism concept.

        I have never been a member of a political party, so no, not an insider. However, my outsider take is that the weakness of rival parties is contributing to a possible SNP strategy of keeping a steady ship while in government, letting their opponents’ failings maintain their electoral advantage, and trying not to alienate existing supporters. Whether their planners would prefer a spell in opposition is unclear to me; the Scottish electoral system seems to favour coalitions yet the SNP has not needed to work within such a partnership, though has needed deals to pass budgets and so on.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Scottish_Governments

        The ideal, from the SNP planners point of view, might be a Unionist coalition government in Scotland, preferably Labour and Conservative, which would likely damage the Unionist cause, although what events could lead to this state, I can only speculate.

        1. Alf Baird says:

          Thank you SleepingDog. However, might we not also be right in saying that ongoing demographic trends, coupled with zero national (i.e. Scottish) control over either voting rights on constitutional matters or immigration, are effectively “gerrymandering the electorate”? Moreover, should we not take account of the fact Scotland clearly exhibits the characteristics of a colony, and that any supposed UK political ‘union’ has now been shown to be a charade (i.e. no veto) ? As for
          “persuading people”, we know that culture and heritage are very difficult, if not impossible, to change; I view that ‘road’ to be a forlorn hope. On current trends, the demographic reality points to the loss of any second independence referendum, should one be permitted by our
          ‘administrative Power’, and a return to unionist control of Holyrood probably at the next election.

          1. Mike Vickers says:

            Sounds like Jacob Rees-Mogg calling the UK ‘a vassal state’ after Brexit

          2. SleepingDog says:

            @Alf, to be fair, the SNP Scottish government was pretty much able to set the eligibility clauses for the Scottish Independence Referendum of 2014, not the UK government, changing the demographics with innovations like dropping the minimum age to 16. I would not characterise UK movement-of-people policies as aimed specifically or intentionally at Scotland.

            If Scotland has characteristics of a colony, then simply achieving statutory independence will fall far short of decolonisation, going by historical comparison. Decolonisation can involve a long struggle afterwards; perhaps that journey will be shorter by completing some of the work beforehand. If I were the SNP, I might be looking to make this nation-building work, this popular inter-generational struggle, seem more noble, worthwhile and satisfying than the oft-seeming grubby, morale-sapping and self-interested partisan interchanges today. To do that, I should think they would need to let diverse popular movements engage with society without trying to control them; indeed, where able, should be protecting grassroots activists against UK state interference.

          3. Bryan Stuart says:

            The SNP Government needs to trust the people, and right now, it doesn’t. The latest Party Political Broadcast was simply appalling, unoriginal, inaccurate and “puerile”. There seems to be a consistent lack of maturity of judgement these days, and folk notice. Nicola’s “refresh” reshuffle has never happened, and a number of her cabinet secretaries don’t inspire confidence.
            “Colonial” is spot on for our current condition, and mind-sets and personnel need to change within the Scots Gov (and SNP HQ) before we will ever advance from that.

          4. Alf Baird says:

            Not sure where you are going to with your last comment Sleepingdog. The wide open franchise at indyref14 was clearly a stitchup by UK ‘Home’ civil servants, and was quickly dumped in time for the brexit referendum.

            Bryan, you are right, the SNP are losing the plot, and instead of wasting his time pleading for scraps from unelected ‘Lords’ who are not remotely interested in Scotland, Mike Russell should be knocking on the door of ‘The UN Special Committee on Decolonisation’. There is no ‘union’, Scotland well fits the characteristics of a powerless colony and if the hat fits we should wear it: http://newsnet.scot/archive/brexit-vote-underline-scotland-not-country-colony/

          5. Paul Pacey says:

            I am keen to see an independent Scotland soon and I believe that Westminster and various media will fight against this as hard as they can. I have no personal experience of decolonisation. Why have Irish parties not been down this route? If this route would work for Scotland I would support it though my partner is English and both our children though born in Edinburgh are happy with family down south. I would hope that whatever process is chosen can be accepted by friends and family.

          6. Alf Baird says:

            Paul, ending what the UN refers to as “the scourge of colonisation” mainly relates to the economic exploitation of a territory by another country (the ‘administrative Power’), which few can doubt is the predicament of Scotland, and possibly rather less to its occupation by settlers, though inevitably that depends on the ‘weight’ of settlement occurring. Ireland’s UDI from the UK ‘union’ did predate the UN, though the UN nevertheless describes Ireland as a ‘former colony’, and Scotland would therefore appear to be little different, given the absence of any Scottish veto. The British state appears to have long experience of enforcing partition (along Ethnic, religious lines etc) and leaving a ‘situation’ in its wake, as in Ireland, and India/Pakistan, Israel etc.

  57. colin alexander says:

    The SNP have repeatedly asserted that the people of Scotland are sovereign, asserting the Claim of Right 1689 as the documentary legal proof. In the Scotland’s Future White Paper, it also mentions the ‘sovereign people’.

    Even the Unionists boast: The people voted No to independence in a referendum, so there’s “no doubt”, as the people decided.

    Well, the people of Scotland also voted to Remain in the EU, a vote which the SNP insisted must be respected. The SNP and Scot Govt started well, insisting Scotland cannot be dragged out the EU against her will; it was unacceptable.

    Yet, now Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP have become fixated on “Soft Brexit” for the UK. If dragging Scotland out the EU was unacceptable then, it’s unacceptable now.s

    ( This is not an argument supporting the merits of the EU or the perils of Brexit, but supporting that the will of the people must be respected.)

    So, it’s unacceptable for the Scot Govt and SNP to then ignore that Remain vote and decide they’ll offer a Single Market compromise to the UK Govt. It was the “sovereign people” that made a decision by a democratic vote to Remain, so it’s a decision the SNP and Scot Govt, had no right to deviate from.

    The UK Govt could laugh and ignore this, but the Scot Govt could have then challenged this in court, based on the ancient sovereign people argument and then supported with the modern-era “democratic self-determination” gold standard of modern democracy.

    Instead, the Scot Govt chose to challenge Brexit on the Sewel Convention.

    I don’t know about others, but I would love to hear what courts would say about the Claim of Right and the sovereignty of the people of Scotland coupled with that sovereignty being exercised democratically ( one person, one vote in a referendum) v the sovereignty of Westminster ( Commons MPs and Lords).

    Of course, only 59 of the 650 MPs are elected in Scotland. No Lords are elected by any of the electorate.

    Thus, if Scotland’s people are sovereign, they are unable to exercise that sovereignty through Westminster – as Scotland can only elect 59 representatives of their sovereignty out of around 1450 Westminster politicians.

    That goes against all modern principles of democracy.

    Of course, we know the old argument that goes: well, Scotland elects MPs for constituencies, as does other parts of the UK, so we are all equal.

    But, in English tradition, Parliament itself is sovereign. That belief is repeated by the UK Govt.

    But, the Claim of Right says the people themselves are sovereign. It said Kings cannot rule without the consent of the people. It can be argued, the same rule would also apply to governments, MPs and Lords; that none of them can rule over the people of Scotland without the people’s consent.

    When the Claim of Right was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 1689 there was no such thing as a referendum of the people. Indeed, ordinary people in Scotland had no vote that would meet the today’s standards of universal suffrage. Even in the modern era in the UK, the use of referendums have been extremely rare.

    If the courts ruled the Claim of Right was not worth the paper it was written on, then it may mean HM Queen has no legal mandate to be Head of State of the United Kingdom.

    It could raise questions about the whole constitutional set-up of the UK.

    As I said, referendums are rarely used. Democratic mandate is the usual democratic convention.
    Again and again I’m told: We must have an indyref to achieve independence. Anything else would be undemocratic; it would be UDI.

    So, what’s the basis for arguing that an indyref MUST be held? I’m told: because the people voted for it. Aye, that was in the 2016 SNP Manifesto. People voted for an SNP manifesto that contained MANY policies – another indyref was just one of many. And the SNP did not get a majority in seats OR popular vote (46.3% of the constituency vote share)

    A democratic mandate sought and given for a one policy only manifesto: “negotiating Scotland’s independence” would have a stronger democratic mandate than a vote for an indyref which was just one policy amongst many in the SNP MINORITY government party manifesto.

    But, if it’s the case that referendums are the new gold standard of democracy; THE VOTE that settles the issues of greatest importance: Why are so many independists, especially the SNP, now willing to ignore the EU-Ref result in Scotland?

    “It was a UK vote”. Well, I’m often told the Scot Govt does not need permission from Westminster to hold referendums. Why didn’t they / why don’t they ask: Should Scotland Remain in the EU?

    If the UK Govt says Scotland can’t; if they EU says Scotland can’t: let a court establish what Scotland can or can’t do – based on the will of the people.

    At worst, a court might say, Scotland’s people aren’t sovereign. Democratic votes by the ordinary people counts for nothing, only Westminster’s votes matters.

    To me, that would be further proof of what an un-democratic, antiquated, rotten system we have in the UK. A system where democracy and the will of the people are only conventions that can be ignored by Westminster.

    Which brings me to the sort of fundamental questions posed by the writer of the article: Why independence? For what?

    A more democratic country, where the people really are sovereign and the people are able to exercise that sovereignty as much as possible.

    A nation state where the government MUST respect and comply with the clear and democratically expressed will of the sovereign people.

    A nation state where, if the people voted to Remain in the EU, the government and the parliamentarians would not accept anything less.

  58. Alan says:

    Rather less generous that my take on Gerry (a href=”https://scottovoce.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/the-quetchetariat-incomplete/”>The quetchetariat :

    The fact that he imagines she was “out-manoeuvred by Theresa May” when the latter called a snap UK general election in 2017 certainly suggests he is not as clever as he thinks he is….there is the notion that the “advent of the Corbyn Labour Party” marks some sort of significant development in Scottish politics. It’s almost as if Gerry Hassan supposes the “Corbyn Labour Party” to be something new and different.

    Quite so.

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