The SNP’s Great Moving Right Show

In January 1979, four months before a triumphant Margaret Thatcher was standing on the steps of Downing Street quoting St. Francis of Assisi, the celebrated sociologist Stuart Hall penned an astonishingly prophetic political analysis. Published in Marxism Today – the journal that would go on to capture the Zeitgeist by critiquing Thatcherism with more intellectual incisiveness than any other publication – Hall’s article announced and exposed ‘The Great Moving Right Show’.

That classic MT magazine cover sprang instantly to my mind as I was scrolling through the The Times website and saw the splash in its Scottish section: ‘Campaigners accuse SNP of going soft on Trident renewal’.

Responding to the abject surrender of the party’s Westminster defence spokesman, Stewart Macdonald, to the Tory Plan for Defence in Global Britain, Jonathan Shafi, the co-founder of the grassroots movement Radical Independence, claimed the SNP had been taken over by “necons” preparing to “sell out on Trident”.

Isobel Lindsay, the vice-chairwoman of Scottish CND, told the Commonspace blog: “Not a single mention of the money committed to Trident…no critique of the delusions of imperial grandeur. SNP members deserve better than this.”

It really has come to an amazingly sorry pass when the only counterblast to gung-ho Gavin Williamson the SNP’s defence spokesman can summon is to splutter that Scotland’s dominant party will work with the embattled UK government to strengthen defence of the North Sea and the Arctic, improve working conditions for the armed forces and find more sustainable funding.
The The Times’ Scottish bourgeois subscribers in leafy suburbs like Bearsden and Broughty Ferry must have been chortling over their fresh brewed coffee and butter croissants. But nothing should anymore shock or awe Scottish peace activists, or those who dream of any sort of radical independent Scotland.

The SNP’s Great Moving Right Show has been on the road for a number of years now. It’s only a matter of time before they complete their ideological journey and Faslane’s nuclear submarines become altered in their eyes from obscenity to necessity.

It was on 19th October 2012 that the Scottish National Party suddenly transmogrified into the Scottish Nato Party. A yellow and black plaque will come to be erected on the front entrance of Perth Concert Hall marking that historic day when the SNP lost its soul and wrote its own political death warrant, clearing the way for the eventual rise of a rainbow coalition for real radical independence.

I just hope Jean Urquhart and John Finnie are still both around to savour the obituaries for Neocon Nationalism when they appear in not only the The Times’ tartanised edition but all legacy media still staggering on at that stage. This courageous and principled duo – alone out of all the serried ranks of SNP MSPs (and MPs) – valiantly defended the party’s long-held outright opposition to a pro-nuclear weapons organisation.

Shoulder to shoulder in a tragically doomed defence of the party’s radical tradition stood 332 conference delegates. That amounted to 44% of the total votes cast – a remarkable rebellion within a party whose dictatorial leadership at that time could have given both Stalin and Mao lessons in how to snuff out any flicker of dissent.

MSM reported it totally differently, of course. Another triumph for Alex Salmond’s and Angus Robertson’s deft stewardship of a party on its missile-like trajectory from protest to power. The Nats, according to the likes of Brian Taylor, had listened to Alyn Smith MEP and were ready at last for “the big league”. What a shindig at the Salutation Hotel this triumphant trio (joined by Big Brian, no doubt) must have had afterwards.

Meanwhile, the sound of over 300 party members being sent hamewards tae think again about what sort of movement they’d traipsed round the doorsteps for went unrecorded, apart from a couple of brief soundbites from Jean and John. (Britain’s semi-state broadcasting service must abide by those pesky impartiality rules occasionally, after all.)

And so, the SNP’s Great Moving Right Show rolled on. There had to be a very slight swerve to the left when Corbynmania emerged on the horizon without advanced radar warning, threatening to sweep Caledonia along with the rest of Britain. But a tiny nod to progressive income taxes and minor amelioration of social welfare cuts kept the lefties inside the tartan Tory tent for as long as necessary.

Then, as soon as it became apparent that ancient Labour was going to stop advancing like the Roman army at Hadrian’s Wall, normal business could resume. With attention switching again to the Lazarus-like revival of Scottish Conservatism in an oddly familiar orange glow, the call went out to a strategic communicator to convene the Sustainable Growth Commission and make sure there was absolutely no input from any trade unionists.

The fact that wee Andra looked as though he might be starring in an amateur production of The Book of Mormon in his spare time only added to his aura of American neocon zeal. Whaur’s yer Mitt Romney, noo?

Wilson delivered what the leadership had ordered – a 354-page doorstopper documenting how an independent Scotland would not shy away from further waves of austerity as the Scottish ship of state embarked, with buccaneering determination and puritanical fervour, on a long voyage towards the foundation of a mid-Atlantic colony called New Caledonia. (Not to be confused with the Darien scheme, of course, the last time – long before RBS under Fred Goodwin – Scottish bankers dreamt up a grand idea to bring about national bounty and prosperity).
But, the best laid schemes…and a’ that. Immediately the SNP leadership found themselves in stormy waters. Chrissakes, even the Herald’s Iain MacWhirter (no enemy of the Nats) was reporting: “Nicola Sturgeon, who was always thought of as a dedicated left-winger, has found herself defending a document that reads in places like one of George Osborne’s Budget speeches.”

That that point the frazzled First Minister had to call upon another of wee saintly Andra’s wondrous skills in order to resteady the boat – crisis PR management.

Still, there was no way he was getting to deliver his indefensible document to the delayed SNP Spring 2018 conference. Just imagine the reaction around the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre when wee Andra reached his Martin Luther King-style climax:

Friends, I won’t get there myself. In fact, none of us in this hall or anywhere in this wonderful wee country, nor our children or grandchildren, will get there. But I have stood on the top of Ben Nevis and seen the Promised Land. Just a couple more decades of savage austerity, then our great-grandchildren shall get there. Just bear with Nicola and me.

As if the longest suicide-note ever penned for any political party in the history of democracy – from Plato to Nato – wasn’t enough to have Richard and Ruthie jigging with delight through the heather together, wee Andra now has a pulpit in The National, which he mounts once a week to sermonise to the fainthearted faithful about the stony endurance the Anglo-British state.
You probably don’t read his epistles in the print version of that paper – for obvious reasons very few Nationalists buy The National – so let me break the really bad news to you: the Sustainable Growth Commission has not been decommissioned. Instead, it now “seeks a prospectus that can unify a settled will behind Scotland’s next step along our ‘journey without end’.”
(Aye, you read that right, Esther. Noo wee Andra is tellin’ us that even oor great-grandweans and their offspring winnae reach the promised land eether).

The former MSP has taken to preaching the most softly, softly approach to regaining national sovereignty ever adumbrated in any restless nation. “In the parlance of Brexit, we offer the softest of possible changes to the current arrangements, not the hardest,” he wrote in his latest column. “We recognise the level of integration and all the ties that have bound us for centuries”.
He lost his Cherry with that one: Joanna Cherry instantly leapt to her feet to denounce this “softest possible” path to independence.

Perhaps she (and we) shouldn’t rush to judgement – a mortal sin, remember – and just listen for a moment to his holy rationale: “The reality is that all change of such significance in any organisation, let alone a major country, is a process rather than an event. Transitions take time as issues are worked through, new institutions built, agreements struck, and strategies put into place and then into action.”

Andrew Wilson knows all about managing change within complex organisations: before founding Charlotte Street Partners, he served for a number of years as Deputy Chief Economist then Head of Group Communications at that wonderfully successful organisation RBS.

In fairness to this extremely dismal scientist and Fred the Shred’s former PR flunkey, Wilson is wholly correct when he says we must all learn lessons from the 2014 referendum defeat. It’s just some of us don’t agree that we would “benefit from further research and reflection from Angus Robertson and the team at Progress Scotland.”

For sure, there’s no denying Big Angus has done much reflecting on defeats and setbacks in recent years. Not only did he lose his Moray seat in 2017 – after having the most expense claims knocked back of any Westminster MP, north or south of the Border – he also masterminded the ultimately unsuccessful 2014 referendum campaign.

Think back for a moment to one of his spiffing strategies for securing victory in that plebiscite: convince your hairdressers and taxi drivers of the case for separation so they, in turn, can persuade others! Such a shame there just weren’t enough clippers or cabbies to carry us to national liberation.

Angus’s brand-new polling organisation can be counted upon, however, to produce irrefutable survey evidence that the SNP’s new Unholy Grail – economic renaissance in none of our lifetimes – has captured the excitement of the Scottish electorate. Fellow Scots cannae wait to be subjected to even more excruciating austerity – so long as Saltires are fluttering on every front lawn in the land, of course.

Not that Angus Robertson would like too many flags waved in his own face. In 2012 – just as the SNP started to stand for Scottish Nato Party – he thought it strategically smart to tell an Austrian newspaper on-the-record that he was not a nationalist. Half-German and thus possessing a fluent command of Deutsch, he assured readers of the Wiener Zeitung that he was “not a ‘Nationalist’ in the sense it can be understood in the German language.”

Gross Angus got a lot of Scheisse for that, but there’s probably a very reasonable explanation. During all those long, lonely nights down in London – when he wasn’t filing his House of Commons expense claims – the Honourable Member for Moray possibly overdosed on the History Channel. Dubbed the Nazi Channel due to all the documentaries about Hitler and the Third Reich it used to churn out on an endless loop, too much exposure to that could make any of us end up thinking that nationalist was just shorthand for national-socialist.

Or maybe the problem was he whittled away too many hours mulling over his ideological soulmate Mike Russell’s classic contribution to Scottish political philosophy, Grasping the Thistle. Repeated reading of such a deep treatise could plant existential doubts in any Scottish Nationalist’s cranium.
Probably none of the idealistic Young Nats reading this ever learned about Russell’s right-wing ruminations in the Holyrood-authorised version of Scottish History, so let me very quickly educate them…

Way back in the devolution dark age (2004 to be precise) after losing his first seat in the Scottish Parliament, the former chief executive of the SNP went off to live like a hermit in the wilds of Argyll. After years of deifying social democracy, monkish Mike Russell suddenly saw the light and realised that right-wing heresy had to become the new orthodoxy within the national movement.

He devoted all his spare hours – when not praying for a swift return to that most holy of shrines, Holyrood – to reading the ancient runes with a businessman called Dennis MacLeod. Together this Druidic duo co-authored a tome dissing almost everything the SNP had stood for in its modern incarnation. Even that most sacred and patriotic of mediaeval parchments the Declaration of Arbroath got debunked in the first few pages.

The SNP, Russell and MacLeod jointly pontificated, should banish devilish notions of national independence and instead seek to negotiate a “New Union” with England. Once Westminster conferred its blessing on full fiscal autonomy for Bute House, in return for abolition of the Barnett formula, auld Scotia could then be administered all the shock therapy she so desperately required to be jolted out of her zombie state.

Our semi-independent government could then go on the lion rampage against the undeserving poor, the idle and the feckless. Scotland’s welfare state and taxes would be slashed, with vouchers introduced to marketize provision of schools and hospitals – none of which would be supplied through the NHS, since this would be dismantled in favour of an insurance-based health service.

Oh and (almost forgot) Russell and MacLeod also floated the idea that foreign affairs and defence should become a shared responsibility with Westminster.

None of their madcap manifesto ever had a hope in hell of being enacted, Danke Gott. After scanning the first draft of Grasping the Thistle, Alex Salmond grasped Mike Russell by the lapels and told him to delete the most politically-dangerous passages or he would probably never sit again in the Scottish Parliament – certainly not within the SNP’s ranks.

Plainly petrified of being forced to remain roaming out on the windswept wilderness of Argyll, Michael Russell (to give him his full nom de plume) instantly stopped preaching his new gospel or gifting signed copies of his heretical parchment to even his closest friends and acquaintances. Rumour has it many copies got pulped. Certainly, he’s never penned a sequel.

Whether the Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations grasps any of those thorny thistles again now that Salmond has other concerns on his mind, will be most interesting to behold. After all, there couldn’t be a more auspicious time to refloat ‘New Unionism’ now that its virtues are being extolled even on the pages of The National and soon to be backed up by a spanking new polling organisation.

Just you wait until wee Andra gets his act together with Big Angus and monkish Mike. Then the SNP’s Great Moving Right Show will really hit top gear.

Comments (88)

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  1. Charles L. Gallagher says:

    Rob, I don’t want to be offensive but are really advocating some sort of ‘Momentum’, Venezuela disaster?

    1. Rob Brown says:

      Is Venezuala the only conceivable alternative to neoliberalism and militarism, Charles? Are we just stupid to think we could do something radically different in Scotland?
      If you seriously believe the status quo is the only option, I suggest you read Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? a 2009 book by the (now sadly departed) theorist Mark Fisher. It laments “the widespread sense that not only is capitalism the only viable political and economic system, but also that it is now impossible even to imagine a coherent alternative to it.”
      Astonishingly, such fatalism has been compounded since the 2008 financial meltdown because of the way that this (still intensifying) crisis was swiftly reframed by the corporate media, turning the victims – the most deprived and vulnerable in our society – into the villains. Just yelling Venezuela every time anyone has the audacity to critique neoliberalism is only to make your own ignominious contribution to the infliction of horrendous human suffering around the globe and destruction of our entire ecosystem.

      1. Charles L. Gallagher says:

        To suggest that I’m a ‘neoliberal’ is very insulting. By the same token I find all who advocate a ‘neomarxism’ are just as far off the beam as ‘neoliberals’. While the Soviet Union existed it was always known that there was a massive differences from those who existed in the Kremlin bubble and can you maybe explain how some Russians went from supposedly very little to being able to move to the West and make massive investments in property, football clubs and huge private yachts. Where did their wealth come from, I would suggest it is corrupt money which really should be the property of the Russian people

        Rob in my now elderly years every system produces ‘wide-boys’ who have friends in high places and so get protection. Over the years I note the girth of their gut and you don’t often see a half starved leader or any of their entourage.

        I can sum it all up with just one word, GREED.

        1. JohnMac says:

          Rob Brown is a poundshop David Torrance.

  2. Mairi says:

    I think there is some truth in what you say. Great piece.

  3. David Allan says:

    An entertaining piece , just to fill in some personal knowledge gaps, can someone advise who participated in creation of Growth Commission report, were Robin and Common Weal or anyone else from the broader Indy movement invited to make their pitch?

      1. David Allan says:

        Ed – We share a similar sense of humour!

  4. Alexander Ritchie says:

    Thatcher and the SNP will always be intertwined in history ….28 March 1979 #dateofignominy #tartantories

    1. Rob Brown says:

      Yip Alexander, old Jim Callaghan was so spot-on when he described them as “turkeys voting for an early Christmas” (one of the most prescient put-downs ever voiced in the history of British politics)

      1. John McIntosh says:

        Hardly the most original put down mind you. Btw, are we admiring ‘old Jim Callaghan’ now! I remember how reviled he was as a right wing stooge/dupe/ neo liberal / insert insult of choice/ at the time. The many and varied cultural and sociological reasons Thatcher was elected can all be ignored- it was , like much else apparently, all the fault of the SNP. Funny that.

      2. Heidstaethefire says:

        If you read Callaghan’s book, I think you’ll find that he blamed his rebel MPs, who gerrymandered the first devolution referendum, for the general election which brought Thatcher to power. It might also be worth repeating that it was, unfortunately, the electorate who won it for her

  5. Archie Thompson says:

    This is the biggest pile of twaddle I have seen stacked up in one place for a very long time. Point to where any elected SNP official has ever endorsed Trident? It’s hard to work out whether you’re an agent provocateur, or simply happier with the powerlessness of ideological purity rather than working to make life better for the people around us.

    1. David Allan says:

      Nevertheless for some the content of this piece rings true coupled with a frustration with SNP’s perceived inactivity toward tackling the issues that lost the REF. My loyalty to the SNP is nearing a tipping point , toward future consideration of supporting and voting in all elections for an alternative Independence supporting party.

      1. Rob Brown says:

        I think you’ll soon find a massive queue at that exit door, David. The scales are starting to fall from a lot of Scot Nats’ eyes, I’m finding – at every level of the party from the bottom to the top.

    2. Rob Brown says:

      What I’ll point you towards Archie – again – is the quote from Isobel Lindsay, vice-chair of Scottish CND and a highly prominent figure in the SNP until she was expelled along with other left-wingers in the very short-lived 79 Group. (Eck was ejected as well but agreed to moderate his views sufficiently to satisfy the Tartan Tories who didn’t need to conceal or camouflage their control of the Nats at that time).
      As for your agent provocateur crap, I suppose you’ll be claiming next that the 354-page political suicide note penned by Fred the Shred’s former PR flunkey and also Mike Russell’s 246-page volume advocating a neoliberal Scotland – a right-wing vision he never recanted, by the way – were both secretly provoked by undercover agents. If you want to be a Jock Le Carre, I recommend you stretch your creative imagination a wee bit and engage in somewhat deeper speculation about who the sleeper agents in the upper echelons of the SNP might be.

      1. JamesMac says:

        The article is just a mess. SNP are the only party in Westminster opposing Trident. Your complaint seems to be they did not oppose it strongly enough.

        Then you have this:

        “The Times’ Scottish bourgeois subscribers in leafy suburbs like Bearsden and Broughty Ferry must have been chortling over their fresh brewed coffee and butter croissants. But nothing should anymore shock or awe Scottish peace activists, or those who dream of any sort of radical independent Scotland.”

        Are you for real? Do you actually know anyone from Bearsden and Broughty Ferry. The article article is a hodge podge of nonsense and confused anti-SNP diatribes.

        There are more anti-Trident MPs than in many years, despite Corbyn switching. Thanks to the SNP. If CND criticised the SNP, theyd have to be completely mad.

        This is honestly the kind of fanfic youd see in the Herald. Terribly written and horribly misinformed.

        1. Donald Wallace says:

          Yes agreed! Rob needs to sit his O grade English again, possibly along with Advanced Higher Geography, History and Modern Studies

  6. Alan Smart says:

    What a desperate and jaundiced article. Starts with the implicit assumption the SNP ever was anything more than a moderate centre left party. And then, with a few selective quotes from a few selective people, tries to prove it is now centre right one.

    A seriously pish article from something that would make Wings or even Guido blush with embarrassment in terms of it’s one eyed analysis.

    Not a mention of Johnna Cherry, Mhari Black, Tommy Shepherd , Chris Stephens, Alison Thwellis, or any of the dozens and dozens more of left wing people with plenty of influence in the present day SNP. Sure there is an ongoing battle of sorts within the SNPs 120,000 strong membership and its team of over 100 parliamentarians, and one that will never be resolved this side of independence. One that should not be resolved. Because the SNP is , has always been, and needs to remain, a broad church, national movement if it is to win. We are to win.

    That is what makes it dangerous to the British State. What makes it fundamentally radical. And what makes this over long intellectually incoherent article by the editor of Bella so desperately sad. After all this time, he still has not grasped this point. Seems to hark back to the non existent days when the SNP, in his mind only, was some sort of independence supporting ILP.

    But that is what has yet to come. Post independence, when the SNP, perhaps with one term of office governing as the SNP, inevitably splits, and its social democratic/democratic socialist wing competes with its neoliberal wing, environmental swings, and perhaps brand new wings, for power as separate parties in the new Scottish state. A new Scottish state that will only be created by a pre independence broad based approach. Not the jaundiced, almost infantile outlook of this article , which is a prescription for inevitable failure.

    Just sad that its author who knows so much, understands so little.

    1. Three quick points Alan:

      1. The article isn’t by the editor of Bella.
      2. “A new Scottish state that will only be created by a pre independence broad based approach”. I have no idea what this means.
      3. “A seriously pish article from something that would make Wings or even Guido blush with embarrassment in terms of it’s one eyed analysis.” Guido is a right wing attack blog and Wings hasn’t a critical bone in its body and the likelihood that it published a left-analysis of SNP defence policy is precisely Zero.

    2. Rob Brown says:

      SNP moderate centre-left – have you ever read the Growth Commission report, Alan, or are you just a Pavlovian apologist for everything the party leadership do?
      And did you fail to read Joanna Cherry’s reported denunciation of wee Andra’s “softest possible” Scexit from the UK? Come on, stop just reading whatever gets posted out to you by Mr Murrell and his minions at the SNP’s orporate HQ.
      My am article is “pish”? Well, if we’re going to stoop to that level of political debate, it’s clearly got you pissing yourself with worry as you felt you needed to post such a lengthy reply.
      The SNP a broad Kirk dangerous to the British state? You’re the one extracting the urine now.
      That old saw about 120,000 members? And how many of those have dared to murmur any dissent in the last two decades. Off the top of my head I can only think of Jean Urquhart and John Finnie. And Chris Harvie in the final chapter of his revised history of Scotland since WWI – No Gods and Precious Few Heroes, which is a very apt description of the state of the SNP today.
      Dream on, Alan, about a revival of the ILP post-independence. And I suppose Keir Harvie will make a Second Coming from a red sky at night. Talk about being trapped in a time warp.

      1. JamesMac says:

        Rob – the SNP dont need to be worried on the basis of your article. It’s crazy, and exactly why parties like RISE continually fail to gain support and the SNP continue to get around 40%.

        None of it is true. Not only that but the right attack the SNP being soft on defence. They are right wing compared to Chiapas, but left wing to everyone else. All this does is confuse people.

        From the idea having a coffee and croissant is middle class to essentially saying Alex Salmond’s personality is relevant to independence. These are all reasons why the left will never win any seats. Certainly not until a lot of the fruitcakes have gone, and activists actually start finding out issues that are important to people in Scotland in the 21st century and campaigning for them.

        1. Wait, what Rob Brown is behind RISE? (!)

          1. JohnMac says:

            Mike, he is a communist. Maybe not RISE. It doesnt matter.

            This is not about just winning votes. It is about being able to influence people and policies. I fail to see who will be reading this thinking “that Rob Brown has some smashing ideas for the Scottish Government over the next few years”.

            There is no Marxian analysis here. No subtle analysis on how marxian policies can be applied through the Scottish Parliament. Instead 90% of people reading this will think “communists are crazy”.

          2. If the author has nothing to do with RISE the best not to throw it in?

            Maybe people won’t be thinking Rob Brown has some smashing ideas, but many many people may agree that Trident is an obscentity and that the SNP needs to be more vocal in its articulation of its case. This is not some weirdo outlier viewpoint – it has indeed been central to the case for independence for about seventy years.

    3. Charles L. Gallagher says:

      Alan, how well put. Like you I’d have thought better of him and that he could use his time more productively, this type of article is raw, red meat to yoon goons.

  7. Willie says:

    A bitter piece of invective altogether.

    Very few folk, or any least folk with any credability, think securing independence is easy.

    But what you you have here in this piece is a mouth whose answer is not just to criticise policy, which in itself is a valid part of trying to secure independence, but to do so in bitter tirade of personal invective against individuals.

    Calling Angus Robertson a half Kraut who had the most expenses knocked back, saying that Alex Salmond has other things to occupy his time just now, or referring to monkfish Michael Russel a hermit in the wilds of Argyll totally destroys any policy comment that our intellectual pygmy our Booby Broon seeks to make.

    Certainly comes across as a bitter howl from a cheapskate keyboard warrior out to split the independence movement.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      Securing radical independence for Scotland with the SNP in the vanguard isn’t difficult but impossible. (Just look how support for Indy has failed to budge one iota amidst the biggest crisis to beset the British state since the Second World Wa).
      I never called Angus Robertson a half-Kraut – your term of abuse not mine – I cited his half-German background to remind readers why he has a command of the English language. I also chose to study German in secondary school rather than Russian and consider Germany the most grown-up country in the world.
      Robertson’s record on claiming Westminister expenses is a matter of public record and would be roundly condemned by leading Scot Nats if a Tory or Labour MP had had their snout so deeply in the public trough.
      My main point about Mike Russell was about the extreme right-wing agenda he outlined at some length in his book until Eck ordered him to fall back into line or kiss farewell to his lucrative Hollyrood career. If you can’t find it on Amazon (perhaps because Russell keeps purchasing all the second-hand copies that weren’t pulped) try your local library (unless he’s managed to borrow and lose those as well). Russell, by the way, has never publicly recanted for that 240-page neoliberal diatribe.
      I referred to Mike Russell as monkish not monkfish – I think with Salmond and Sturgeon the SNP already has enough Pisceans in its upper echelons.
      And as for the deep-seated anxiety you exhibit about the SNP being split asunder by one wee keyboard warrior – says it all about the stability and durability of the SNP even more eloquently than my plainly impactful article.

    2. Rob Brown says:

      *Robertson’s command of German (and English) language. I’m deeply envious of bilingualism!

  8. Iain Crighton says:

    What a load of contrived nonsense. You really either have a) lost the plot or b) have your own agenda. Either or Will get no support from me next fund raiser. You will be consigned to the big pile of agent provocateurs in Scotland. Quickly becoming insignificant

    1. Thanks Iain – I love the idea that publishing something critical of the SNP’s messaging on Trident makes us an Agent Provocateur. Perfect.

    2. Rob Brown says:

      Another Jock Le Carre talking about agents provocateurs while not suspecting sleepers have already penetrated the very highest echelons of the SNP (surely a given). I suppose you’d be accusing me of being on Putin’s secret payroll if Eck wasn’t already a dancing bear for RT.

  9. Redgauntlet says:

    Rob’s basic point about some of the key figures in the SNP being New Labour-like characters in policy and manner seems to me to be correct.

    Though it is also true, as pointed out by another poster above, that Mhairi Black and Tommy Shepherd are in the SNP, and they would by no means fit that description. Mhairi is just sensational, and is equipped with that great gift of the politically aware Scottish working class: an in-built bullshit detector of the highest accuracy, and the ability to talk in plain Scots to devastating effect…

    So the SNP IS a broad church, no doubt about that. Which only makes the following question more pertinent than ever: if you want a broad church to stay broad, why alienate the Scottish Left with and Andrew Wilson led Growth Commission??

    Here are the people selected for that Commission by Andrew Wilson (and his team?) as per the webpage:

    Cllr Marie Burns, Shadow Economy and Communities spokesperson, North Ayrshire Council
    Iain Docherty, Professor of Public Policy and Governance, University of Glasgow
    Kate Forbes, MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch
    Andrew Hughes Hallett, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, George Mason University and University of St Andrews
    Dan McDonald, businessman and founder of N56 group
    Derek Mackay MSP, Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance
    Marie Macklin CBE, Founder and Chief Executive of the Klin Group and Macklin Enterprise Partnership
    Jim Mather, former Enterprise Minister and Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde and Heriot Watt University
    Roger Mullin, Honorary Professor at University of Stirling Management School, former MP and SNP Westminster Finance spokesperson
    Catherine Schenk, Professor of Economic and Social History, University of Oxford
    Mark Shaw, Chief Executive, Hazeldene Group
    Shirley-Anne Somerville, Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science
    Petra Wetzel, founder and Managing Director WEST Brewery
    Andrew Wilson (Chair), Founding Partner, Charlotte St Partners

    Where are the Trade Unions? Where are the environmentalists? Where are the women’s groups like Women For Independence? Where are the LGBT representatives? Where are the representatives of multicultural, multiethnic Scotland? Where is the “ordinary Scot” either in all of this?

    To commission Andrew Wilson to write a Growth Report, is to load the dice about the template of an independent Scotland…. it’s to play the game of cards with your own particular deck. It is to frame future choices in a neo-liberal paradigm.

    The composition of that Growth Committee in no way reflects the heterogeneous nature of Scottish society, and in no way reflects the full range of choices open to Scotland to shape a new country built on different lines to England…

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      In terms of Trident, the chances that the Scots will be able to freely decide this matter are very small in my opinion.

      The American will decide that and nothing the Scots do or say will make any difference…

      Scotland is too important geo-politically to be freely allowed to choose its own future.

      Why is Ireland independent but Scotland isn’t? Look at the map.

      Why is Andorra independent and Catalonia isn’t? Again, look at the map…

    2. Rob Brown says:

      Thanks Redgauntlet for expanding on the point I could only touch on in my article about the composition of the Growth Commission, which by being so ideologically narrow was committed to Neocon Nationalism from its very inception. Labour, the Tories and the Greens will all have a field day the first time this report comes under real public scrutiny in the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary election – maybe earlier if the UK Government collapses under the strain of Brexit.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        Rob Brown

        We had to agree on something eventually I guess, statistically speaking it was inevitable…

        The amazing thing is that the SNP seem to confuse the Scots for the English. The Scots are much more politically aware than the English – at this moment in history at least, or that’s what it seems to me – and to fob them off with some neo-liberal template for the future is unlikely to fly…

        1. Rob Brown says:

          Absolutely 100% agree, Redgauntlet, I can see us becoming political soulmates after our initial misunderstandings LOL

    3. Willie says:

      Well considered points Redgauntlet.

      Most probably the points that Rob Brown wanted to articulate but couldn’t.

      Sensible, constructive debate is what’s needed. No one says the SNP policies are perfect. They never will be. They are a broad church, and always will be.

      And yes, you are absolutely correct to say that Scotland will not be allowed to become whatever it wants to be.

      International geopolitical interests will see to that despite what the Bobby Broons say.

      And therein lies the trick. Independence to the extent possible within the Anglo American sphere or independence within the EU sphere.

      I know which one I would work for. But do people like Bobby know?

  10. Interpolar says:

    Well, that is quite a gripe.

    I’m sorry to say, but if this were the mainstream offering of the Yes movement, I would be a committed no voter. I see absolutely no vision in your piece. Moreover, it is quite difficult to find space to your left.

    I am hoping that an iScotland would have greater scope for Scandinavian social thinking, but most would agree that the “realexistierende” (to use another German word) examples of the Marxist paradise you appear to be propagating have even less to offer the common man/woman than the Westminster quagmire we already have. And that is saying something.

    Remember, politics is the art of the feasible. The SNP is in the business of trying to build majority support for independence with the prospect that it might actually happen. This comes at the expense of pursuing naval gazing on the sidelines, which is, let’s face it, best left to intellectual specialists like yourself.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      Interpolar

      Do you think neo-liberal England with terrible social inequality – full of fanatical, rabid free-marketeers every bit as dogmatic as any Communist – could cope with a prosperous and much fairer social democratic Scotland on its northern border?

      I have serious doubts that England would allow that to happen. It’s an idea that might catch on if it works and so would represent a threat…

      Scotland is like one of the numerous Central American countries which the Americans have invaded over the years. England won’t ever allow Scotland to become fully independent. No chance…

      Why did George Osborne bale out the Irish at the time of the Euro crisis but refuse to give a penny to the common EU bale-out fund? Cause Osborne and establishment England wants Ireland in England’s pocket…

      We are in a colonial situation. Okay, it’s not a classical colonial case, but there are clearly colonial elements to it, and broadly speaking, we are in the Anglo/American sphere of influence, which means that a strategy of resistance, especially cultural resistance, is essential to the survival of Scotland …

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        PS: Scotland, as a small to medium sized European country, as an independent State has two choices:

        a) It will exist under the sphere of influence of the Anglo/American Empire.
        b) It will join the EU and will choose to be influenced by European policy.

        There is no pure “independence”….

        For me, being in the EU is much preferable to being left at the mercy of London and Washington…

    2. Hi ‘Interpolar’ – sorry are you saying that to argue for the removal of Trident is to propagate a Marxist Paradise? I’m confused.

      1. Interpolar says:

        I‘m confused as to why you would even think that was my argument, which it obviously is not.

    3. Rob Brown says:

      Thank you Interpolar for describing me as intellectual – an adjective I have never considered an insult.

      1. Interpolar says:

        It was also not intended as an insult. But in the role you have chosen, you must recognise, as prophetic as it might be, you are damned to remain a voice in the wilderness. Some of your ideas have inspirational and principled value, but need diluting to become politically acceptable and feasible. Others are unworkable. Others still are plain dangerous. But you undermine your legitimate role which would be to challenge and incite discussion through your acrimious attack on those you might hope to accept and carry some of your ideas forward in some form.

        1. Donald Wallace says:

          Well said Interpolar. Rob is taking himself into the political wilderness

    4. Rob Brown says:

      That old saw about politics being the art of the possible. Well, more radical things are possible if you raise political consciousness – surely not something too difficult to do with geopolitical tensions rising around the globe and both our capitalist economy and entire ecosystem on the brink of collapse. Even (or especially) the middle class know things cannot carry on as they currently are with automation about to
      wipe out many (if not most) white collar jobs just as 1980s deindustrialisation did for most blue collars.

      1. Redgauntlet says:

        Rob

        An indie Scotland can move a fair bit to the Left from England, though England is the most right-wing country in Europe today by miles, so that’s not difficult.

        But if Scotland chose a radical path, and an independent social democratic/socialist Republic, do you seriously think the Americans and the English wouldn’t try to be bring down a Scottish government that pursued that kind of policy? History suggests they would not tolerate it and would undermine government in all kinds of different ways…

        1. Redgauntlet says:

          PS: I say that the Anglo/American Empire would try to undermine and sabotage an indie Scotland which sought to create a new model of society for the 21st century – the neo-liberal model having been totally discredited with the Great Crash of 2008 – but think of the bright side folks, at least they won’t bomb us, because it just so happens we are predominantly a white-skinned population…

          If the Scots were a predominantly dark-skinned population, then we would be eligible for “air strikes” or in plan language, being bombed…

        2. Certainly a radical – or even progressive indy Scotland wold be undermined by forces both within and beyond – that’s no reason not to fight and defend that prospect …

          1. Redgauntlet says:

            The fight for an alternative to the current status quo starts with Scottish culture, which isn’t as dependent on the SNP as our political status is… thankfully… that revolution can start today.

            Watching a Spike Lee movie is more radical, and does more for your political consciousness, than listening to the mainstream SNP discourse.

            Reading Chinou Achebe can change the way you think about your “Scottish accent”. As James Kelman knows all too well…

            Insert Scotland into a colonial paradigm – even though it is not a purely colonial situation – and everything starts making sense…

            Nations which have been colonized can free themselves as History shows. But not if they are led by people whose consciousness has been colonized by the imperial mentality…. such people are an obstacle to independence most probably…

            Down with the “international novel”…

            To hell with the “savage Scot on screen” and other such film and TV cliches.. .

            The SNP have sucked a lot of the energy from Scottish culture into party politics…

            George Gunn touched on this not long ago.

            I don’t know if ultimately it was better when Scottish artists were the main protagonists of Scottish independence movement, as they were for the last 300 years, rather than the SNP.

            I’m not sure about that at all…

        3. Tam Dean Burn says:

          “England is the most right-wing country in Europe today by miles…”
          What ludicrous twaddle. You want to get out more, matey…

          1. Redgauntlet says:

            Tam Dean Burn

            In terms of neo-liberal economics, England is more right wing than anywhere in Europe I can think of. Where else have they privatized the railways for example? Where else do they charge you 30,000-40,000 pounds for a university degree? Please enlighten me, big man…

            The English invented neo-liberal economics along with the Americans. It wasn’t the Europeans. They all copied Thatcher and Blair who, surprise, surprise, to begin with got same “great growth figures” – the kind of growth figures Michael Wilson would like for us – until the baa finally burst and the ENTIRE WESTERN ECONOMY went into complete meltdown and we tax-payers had to SOCIALIZE THE MEANS OF EXCHANGE (or part thereof) in order to SAVE CAPITALISM FROM ITSELF… as opposed to socializing the means of exchange in order to ESTABLISH SOCIALISM.

            On other issues like abortion, LGBT rights, traditional “conservative values”, you’re right, there are much more conservative countries like Poland and Hungary especially. But even there, who else in Europe right now is deporting immigrants who have been living in their country for sixty years or longer? The Home Office’s “hostile environment” is extremely right-wing and is a match for Orban surely?

            Which other European country has nuclear weapons, and an unelected second chamber like the House of Lords? Name me one! Name me a country with colonies like Gibraltar, an anachronism surely by now? Name me another European country with food banks? I think we are almost top of the league in social inequality and not doing too well in social mobility either…

            It depends how you measure being right-wing…. lets just say it’s no surprise the Tories are the only European conservative party who actually vote in the European Parliament alongside the quasi fascist Orban’s Hungary: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/conservatives-victor-orban-hungary-eu-parliament-vote-mep-group-europe-a8535511.html

          2. Tam Dean Burn says:

            Ah I see what you’re getting at – you mean the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland…I agree.

          3. Redgauntlet says:

            Fair enough, Tam… point taken.

            I just find it totally incredible that, at this moment in history, when we have this huge environmental challenge which has no precedent in human history, when there is a totally different idea of the role of women in society to the past, not to mention gender and sexuality, or the deleterious psychic effects of inequality on people, and all we know about the psychological stresses of poverty – especially inter-generational poverty – on humans being….

            …in short, at this decisive and crucial moment in human history,when there has never been a more urgent need for a new template, an independence seeking party of a country famous for its ideas, for its thinkers – David Hume, Adam Smith to name but two – commissions a paper which simply parrots the same neo-liberal doctrine which has failed all over the world, and is directly responsible for so many of the same problems we are facing.

            It’s just not good enough… it is pathetic…

          4. Tam Dean Burn says:

            Ach I know the feeling- felt the same sort of thing about the 2017 Labour Party manifesto. BUT at least there is potential in that party for radical socialist ideas to take hold and could lead towards the party formation we so urgently need- a Communist Party of the European Union – something that the SNP or Scot Nat project generally will never ever lead to and in fact lead away from. That’s genuine Marxism Today talking, Rob…

  11. mince'n'tatties says:

    Of course there are a multitude of reasons why Angus Robertson ‘lost’ Moray and the Telegraph expenses exposure certainly did him no favours. Other politicians took heed and became more circumspect. Angus appeared impervious. Keep in mind though that Moray came closest of any of Scotland’s 32 council areas to a Brexit leave vote….remain romped home by a stonking [not] 122 votes.
    Again there seemed to be a certain hubris, an insensitivity to facts on the ground from the man. A main campaigning plank of fighting theTory threat to take us out the single market in such an evenly split Moray was quite frankly plain daft. Whether he was just following orders isn’t generally known. Surely if the SNP are the broadchurch Party as claimed, an increased level of nuance in dealing with a pesky electorate is required.
    Whether the independence candidate leans to the left or the right that stance should pale into insignificance when measured against the concerns of those constituents that need to be won over.
    And that means a certain level of de-centralised control; a delegation which is anathema to current SNP leadership thinking.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      Great points mince’n’tatties (one of my favourite meals, by the way). You expand so eloquently upon Angus Robertson’s unbridled greed and his lack of strategic savvy. The SNP’s Leninist approach to preserving party discipline – and ensuring that it will meet the same fate in the near future as Soviet Communism – is plain to all, even the Pavlovian apologists for Mr and Mrs Murrell. But they’re scared of that knock on the door on a deep dark night. Probably some counselling available for that.

  12. Tam Dean Burn says:

    The argument is somewhat undermined by the first paragraph praise of Marxism Today which was responsible for the Communist Party of Great Britain great moving right show, to the point of disappearance and the (very shallow not deep or incisive) intellectual justification for Tony Blair…

    1. Rob Brown says:

      The CPGB was always going to be a fringe party irrespective of what anyone said or did. Marxism Today had far more impact because it provided a platform for freer thinking than the party that spawned it. I remember being a politics student at Glasgow University at that time and eagerly awaiting its next issue. No other publication stirred debate and developed understanding of the crisis triggered by Thatcherism and Reaganomics as effectively as MT did. No journal of the left has come close to capturing and critiquing the Zetgeist since MT’s Denise – certainly not Red Pepper or the pinker and pinker by the week New Statesman.

      1. Tam Dean Burn says:

        The CPGB was the highest expression of working class political power and organisation ever seen on these islands and had an influence far beyond its membership size.
        What made you cream your student jeans does not detract from the fact that the politics of MT led directly to Blairism.

        1. Rob Brown says:

          I’m more of a Gramscian (eternally grateful to Hamish Henderson and Tom
          Nairn for their translation and popularisation of that great Italian’s prison notebooks) than an unreconstructed Soviet-style Communist so we’re never going to agree, Tam.

          1. Tam Dean Burn says:

            Please don’t pigeon hole me, Rob, especially in such crude unjustified terms. Gramsci was a Communist revolutionary, unlike any of those around MT, even poor old comrade Hobsbawm by that time. But you fail again to answer my charge that MT was the midwife of Blairism. This is not some academic point but related to the attempts to radicalise factions of the Scottish nationalist project, something still evident today, if now completely lacking in political expression beyond such moaning from the margins as your piece or my pals sneering at the Labour split.

    2. Rob Brown says:

      *Demise not Denise (I hate predictive typing)

      1. Rob Brown says:

        Sorry Tam, I didn’t mean to misrepresent you but was characterising – possibly unfairly – the CPGB (a movement that was never predominantly Gramscian or Neo-Marxist in any sense). The terms Communist and even Marxist have outlived their usefulness, I think, in an age when ecological catastrophes loom larger than socio-economic crises (although the two are interlinked). I know if you dig deeply enough into Marx’s writings you’ll find a seam of prescient ecological thinking but it’s very thin and wasn’t central to the Weltanschauung of a 19th century German philosopher responding to the industrial revolution in its early stages. Marx was a man of his times and we need to be (wo)men of our times.

  13. Me Bungo Pony says:

    It appears there are those who claim to be supporters of independence that are willing to pull the rug out from underneath any winnable campaign. If we are to abandon the SNP ( as they aren’t ideologically pure enough apparently) in the hope another pro-independence party will emerge (hopefully more to Mr Brown’s taste this time) then we will be waiting an awful long time for Scottish independence.

    The statement “A yellow and black plaque will come to be erected on the front entrance of Perth Concert Hall marking that historic day when the SNP lost its soul and wrote its own political death warrant, clearing the way for the eventual rise of a rainbow coalition for real radical independence” is jaw dropping in its naivety. Firstly, while nuclear weapons is a major issue for many who support independence, NATO membership is not. As we all know, being a member of NATO does not require you to either have or host nuclear weapons. Of the 29 countries in the organisation only 3 have nuclear weapons. People understand this. They also understand that ideological purity is no defence against a military aggressor while NATO is. If you want to build the necessary broad base of support for independence, you don’t offer the unionists an open goal and expect them to ignore it. They would rag-doll any ideologically pure proponents of Mr Brown’s defence-free Nirvana in any debate. All other issues would pale into insignificance for the opposition, media and (ultimately) the voter.

    Secondly, NO rainbow coalition of the Left has ever truly survived beyond the first disagreement on policy. The scene from the Monty Python film “Life of Brian” depicting the debate between the various resistance groups may be a cliché but it is never-the-less apt in illustrating the problem every left wing coalition has foundered on. They all want all their policies adopted, despite that being impossible, while their stubborn belief in their own ideological purity makes any compromise a compromise too far. Again, people are aware of this. Any that aren’t will soon be happily informed by the opponents of independence who will also have no problem with picking out, exaggerating and exploiting any differences between the various factions (who themselves, history has taught us, will be incapable of refuting the right’s claims as that would require some or all of them to ditch some long held beliefs). Any Rainbow coalition is destined to remain small, irrelevant, fractious and short-lived.

    Basically, if you’re pinning your hopes on RISE somehow taking over the mantle of primary independence party and winning a subsequent independence referendum then you are delusional. The biggest effect RISE will have on the independence issue is to undermine the SNP letting the unionists win a majority in Holyrood and setting hopes of independence back decades. Ironically, it is not the SNP’s pragmatic policies that are threatening a shift to the right in Scottish politics; it is the self indulgent desires of a self proclaimed “radical” left wresting votes from the SNP that are by far the greatest threat in regard to a shift to the right in Scotland and also independence.

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      Bungo Pony

      I hear what you’re saying, you’re entirely wrong, but somebody must articulate a Utopian future for Scotland.

      A neo-liberal growth report won’t convince anybody who needs convincing. What a turn off!!!

      If it isn’t the SNP, or another political party, then it can only fall to Scotland’s artists to imagine a new country…

    2. Rob Brown says:

      Waiting a long time for a radical successor to the SNP? I think you’ll be surprised how swiftly Scotland’s dominant party implodes after Salmond v Sturgeon in the Scottish trial of the century. I’m only surprised it hasn’t collapsed already under the weight of its ideological contradictions. Amazing how you can stretch out a winning run by being all things to all Scotsmen and Scotswomen, but no party can please all of the people all of the time until the end of time.
      Re. Nato membership and how necessary it is to garner mainstream electoral support, how do you explain the fact that the SNP won two Scottish Parliamentary elections (in 2007 and 2011) before it ditched its opposition to NATO then lost its hard-won majority at Holyrood four years after that craven cave-in to nuclear-armed militarism.
      Who is this “military aggressor” you fear Scotland would face post-independence – the same phantom enemy that invaded independent Ireland after it declared itself neutral and non-nuclear? I lived in Dublin for a number of years and don’t remember seeing any occupying forces around.
      I envisage a radical rainbow coalition in which red and green would be the predominant (but not only) colours. With charismatic and convincing leadership, it could shock not only pusillanimous patriots like you but progressives around the globe. Just wait and see.

      1. Me Bungo Pony says:

        I think you misunderstand Mr Brown (on so many levels). To take your points one by one;

        (1) The implosion you predict for the SNP has no bearing on my point about there being no other party to take its place. You are placing your faith in the people who vote SNP simply switching their votes to your as yet theoretical “Rainbow Coalition” after such an event. This is pure fantasy, without credible precedent and breath-taking hubris. The SNP are synonymous with support for independence. If the SNP disappeared tomorrow the cause of independence would be set back for decades as people, convinced independence was now completely unattainable, reverted back to the traditional parties. Perhaps the Greens might benefit initially but your fantasy “Rainbow Coalition”, if it survived more than a weekend, would have to hold their collective noses, unify under one set of policies and spend many years trying to recreate what the SNP took decades to build.

        (2) Re the effect of the SNP’s stance on NATO changing in 2012. The SNP did not get a majority in 2007. They formed a minority govt with 33% of the vote. In 2011 they formed a majority govt with 45% of the vote. In 2016 they formed a minority govt with 47% of the vote. Your whole point falls to pieces on the fact the SNP increased their vote AFTER their stance on NATO changed. How do you explain that? The reason they fell short of a majority, despite increasing their share of the vote, is that enough people believed the nonsense that they shouldn’t use their second regional vote to back the SNP if they voted for them in the constituency vote. As a result of that dubious advice, the Green regional vote increased by 2% while the SNP fell by 2% resulting in the loss of the SNP majority. NATO had no measurable effect on the result. Tellingly, despite a high profile campaign, RISE got a negligible vote that did not impact at all. That doesn’t bode well for your “Rainbow Coalition” and backs my argument that there is no alternative to the SNP now or for the foreseeable future.

        (3) As to the necessity of NATO membership for an independent Scotland; no it is not necessary. We could save the money spent on defence and invest it elsewhere such as health, education, welfare etc. We would still effectively benefit from NATO, as Ireland does, simply by being surrounded by NATO member states. Then again, that’s an argument for NATO membership as it could be described as “pusillanimous” (sic) to hide behind the NATO shield while refusing to contribute to it. My view of the SNP change of stance is not due to an unflinching support for NATO and nuclear weapons (I’m agnostic on the former and anti the latter), it is because it spiked unionist guns in the indyref campaign. Pragmatism not ideological purity will win the indyref2. If you want your policies enacted in an independent Scotland …. first ensure Scotland is independent.

        (4) You might “envisage a radical rainbow coalition in which red and green would be the predominant (but not only) colours” (what other colours ….. blue …. perish the thought) but that is a pipe dream with no basis in reality. What happens when the Green factions want an industry shut down for ecological reasons but the red factions want to protect the jobs of the employees? Then some Green and Red factions will compromise but others wont; what then? And who is this charismatic leader? You perhaps? Or are we just having to take your word for it that one will just magically appear at the appointed time like some hero in a prophecy? Its not going to happen Mr Brown.

        There is nothing pusillanimous about my “patriotism” Mr Brown. I have argued for Scottish independence for nigh on 50 years. I’ve leafleted, phoned, marched and posted on-line. I’ve been spat on, verbally abused and received hate mail. Been called a “Tartan Tory” and a Commie. Yet still I am here arguing for it. I don’t want to see fringe ideological purists threatening the realisation of that goal with their misdirected hatred of the SNP. The SNP are not your enemy or the enemies of independence. It is the Tories and their tribute acts that are the enemies of independence. Perhaps you have lost sight of that.

        1. Rob Brown says:

          I admire your indefatigability on the doorstep campaigning front and I’m sorry to hear you suffered so much abuse. But you could spend another 50 years campaigning for independence under the SNP’s current leadership (and their ilk) and you wouldn’t achieve that noble objective.
          The fact is Scotland will have only one more IndyRef in our lifetimes so the Yes campaign better get it right next time.

  14. Josef Ó Luain says:

    Some fair points, Rob. To my mind the SNP at its highest echelons, is an accurate reflection of the Scottish middle-classes, that privileged grouping of diverse self-interest which, perhaps uniquely in European terms, has consistently refused to fulfill its historic leadership role.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Josef, but as I argued in a previous article published on this site, I strongly believe it’s time to try converting (rugby puns intended) many of those 80-minute patriots whose very small n nationalism has hitherto been confined to Murrayfield. As several responders to that piece pointed out, major cracks are starting to appear in the Scottish middle classes’ traditional permafrost devotion to the Union. We live in very liquid times.

  15. w.b. robertson says:

    wonderful stuff – and congrats to Bella for providing the platform. for once, it enabled a debate that touched on some of the slugs hidden under the SNP stones. About time that the Yes supporters were allowed to criticise. A movement that claims to be a broad church should encourage internal debate, not hide from it.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      Thank you W.B. It is because I am so passionate about Scottish independence – and have been for far longer than some of my detractors on this thread, most notably Alan Smart – that I express my disgust at the current SNP leadership and their courtiers such as we Andra as forthrightly as I have done in this article. And, believe me, I’m just getting started. Still to fire my journalistic ballistic missiles!

  16. Donald Wallace says:

    Rob,
    I think you’re way off the mark. I don’t sense a great ‘move to the right’.
    You seem to be jumping the gun . A decision for example on Trident will be made post independence by the group or party that win the first general election in Scotland and enacts the will of the people who voted for that group or party. I say group as under a PR system it may be two or more parties have to come together to form a government

    1. Rob Brown says:

      No shift to the right in the SNP? So, you’re another one who didn’t read the Growth Commission report or perhaps didn’t detect and comprehend its neoliberal undercurrents, Donald? As for your other lame point that nothing the SNP currently says on economics or Nato (or anything other policy area) really matters because it’ll be year zero on Independence Day – why then do wee Andra et al bother formulating any policies apart from the single idea of independence? They clearly do want to be the ones still determining Scotland’s (rightwards) direction post-Indy, not least because they fantasise about even bigger Mercs and perks when the NeoCon Nats are running a real nation-state. Especially Gross Angus. Bet he’d love a brand new top-of-the-range Merc (or BMW) every year at Scottish taxpayers’ expense and even fatter expenses than he managed to snaffle at Westminster.

      1. Me Bungo Pony says:

        The growth report is NOT SNP policy.

        1. Rob Brown says:

          Interesting and understandable how you’re seeking to downgrade the status of wee Andra’s 354-page political suicide note.
          So why did the SNP publish it?
          Why did Nicola Sturgeon defend it amid heavy criticism from opposition parties and some independence supporters?
          The one and only reason it isn’t party policy (yet) is because Mr & Mrs Murrell were too scared to submit it to a conference vote.
          Yet wee Andrew is clearly determined to inflict even further damage by banging on about it in his new column in The Nation.
          You and I both knows it’s toxic and a massive gift of ammunition to the Unionist parties.
          Wait to see how it backfires at the 2021 election and IndyRef2 if the SNP are in the forefront of the Yes campaign – which, I hope and pray, they won’t be.

          1. Derek Thomson says:

            What’s with all the “wee”? Wee Andra, etc. You’re as bad as Jamsie with his “wee Nicola” claptrap. It does nothing for your argument (most of which is claptrap, right enough.) Cut out the personal crap.

  17. Redgauntlet says:

    The bizarre thing is that the people behind the Growth Report, are the same people who keep telling us we should try to be persuasive and seductive with Unionists…

    Can you imagine the scene?

    (Indie) Man invites (Unionist) Woman out for a drink, or (indie) Woman invites (Unionist) Man out for a drink, and as they are about to say good night to each other, Man or Woman says to respective party:

    “Hey, you know, I was just thinking….Fancy coming back to my place to read the Growth Report together?”

    And invited party replies:

    “Oh aye, that would be great. And this weekend we can stay over at mine and read the White Paper over a bottle of wine…”

    It’s hardly Finlandia by Jean Sibelius is it? Which was composed as a protest against Russian censorship and the BULLYING of Finland by a far greater power…

    You need a vision…. the SNP can’t provide it, so it falls to Scotland’s artists to do so…

  18. Dave Coull says:

    In the last referendum, we went from 30% support at the beginning of the campaign to 45% by the end of it.
    Not quite enough, but that’s a FIFTY PERCENT INCREASE IN SUPPORT during, and as a result of, our actual campaigning.
    Some sections of the Yes movement, for example, the Radical Independence Campaign, made a point of canvassing support in areas where the turnout for elections was usually low. In a constituency where Labour usually gets in, on a very low turnout, there could be many thousands of folk who don’t usually vote. We got hundreds of thousands of “missing” folk to turn out and vote Yes.
    Now, estimates of the present level of support for independence vary a bit. But NOBODY, nobody at all, suggests support is as low as it was at the start of the previous campaign. Therefore, we would be starting from a higher “base camp”, with less of a mountain to climb. But we do still have to do what some sections of the Yes movement, including RIC for example, made a point of doing last time; we do have to canvas support in areas where turnout for elections is low, but where we can get folk to turn out precisely because this is NOT an election – no politician or political party gets elected.

    Angus Robertson lost his seat at the last election. In effect he is advocating going into a new campaign saying “Actually, we’re not that much different from the Tories, except we want independence”. Which, you never know, might just possibly work for an election in his particular constituency. But us non-party-political campaigners for independence don’t give a shit about him winning his seat back. And the strategy which he and others are advocating would be SUICIDE for a referendum. Because it would LOSE so many folk whose support is essential.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      Interesting perspective from the grassroots, Dave. Hopefully, Gross Angus will get to read all of this. LOL

      1. Derek Thomson says:

        “Gross Angus”. You really know how to get people on your side, eh?

        1. Jamsie says:

          Deke
          I think he meant Big Angus.
          Es cet is shaped like a large B and means double s but I think he meant grosse which in Deutsch means big.
          I could be wrong and maybe Angus could be described as such for his expensive lifestyle on expenses paid for by us

        2. Rob Brown says:

          Derek, when I first used the term Gross in my article it was in italics to indicate I was using the German word for big, quite aware that it might also be read in the English sense of “something unacceptable or unpleasant to a very great amount, degree, or intensity”, which is, I think, a perfect description of Robertson’s conduct re. claiming parliamentary expenses.
          When I hit my keyboard I’m not trying to get on anyone’s side. I’m just telling the truth as I see it about things I care passionately about – saving Scotland and our planet.

  19. Jamsie says:

    Rob
    I tried to post on Monday to congratulate you on the article
    Don’t know whether I have been censored or deleted or whether my internet connection was not good in Italy.
    The contradictions you identify have been a feature since the Murrell Sturgeons took over.
    I don’t like them or their politics.
    They are opportunists trying to portray themselves as one thing when they are really another.
    As most know I do not support Indy.
    But well said.
    It us time the SNP splits were exposed and called out.
    People are only able to make political judgments on the basis of one person one vote.
    Honesty from politicians on all sides is essential to the process.
    Grievance is not honest.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      Whatever the technical glitch, I’m glad to see your congratulations eventually got through, Jamsie. Much appreciated.
      More importantly, I hope that the Indy cause is soon led in a way which would prompt people like you to at least reconsider the case for restoring Scotland’s statehood.

      1. Me Bungo Pony says:

        You are like two peas in a pod.

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