Scotland and the Hauntology of Post-Brexit Britain

The last few weeks have been pretty depressing living on the outskirts of Anglo-Britain’s wreckage. If Britain has been a memefest of indulgence in hyper-nostalgia for the last decade, the new version of Spitfire Nationalism allows you to hurtle even further back. If Brexit was chock full of World War Two references now we can experience the hauntology of rationing as the already precarious food system keels over. Hauntology – nostalgia for a past you’ve never experienced – and a nostalgia for a future that doesn’t exist anymore – is the cultural experience we’re living through, and there’s no accident that the war is evoked again and again. Scattered among the poppies and the royals and the endless remembrance is a recurring meme carefully cultivated by the Leave leadership, that of conflating Brexit – and specifically No Deal Brexit – with “our finest hour”.

Now we are told the BBC is to suspend the licence fee as part of a one-off dispensation for the king’s coronation weekend. The move will allow pubs to screen the live coronation ceremony coverage on 6 May and the coronation concert on 7 May without needing to buy a TV licence. As Dr Charlotte Proudman the Director of Right to Equality writes: “3.9 million children and 9.6 million adults live in poverty in the UK. Meanwhile, Charles’ coronation is expected to cost around £100,00,000. That’s £33,333,333 per day over 3 days for 1 man — our unelected head of state — to have a crown put on his head. Make it make sense.”

Booze and bunting, it’s a proven winner. This orgy of stupidity just rolls on through melancholy delirium punctured only by the joy of watching Britain disintegrate. As ‘the nation’ gets organised for a coronation, the latest dethroning is also being celebrated.

The desultory surround-sound of the unionist commentariat (‘The Independence Dream is Over‘ Iain Macwhirter; ‘What did Nicola Sturgeon ever do for us? She failed‘ Alex Massie …and on…) has declared the independence  movement over and celebrated the death of the cause. Like monkeys typing on keyboards inevitably the results would somehow land good eventually, and having written Nicola Sturgeon’s epitaph religiously (and exclusively) for years the scribes were finally awarded with the scalp they had long sought.

But if the shrill sound of glee is deafening, the various victorious editors and gatekeepers have little really to celebrate. Yes they have succeeded in backing the British government in suppressing a democratic vote; Yes they have succeeded in undermining the cause of Scottish democracy with a relentless banshee-like oppositionalism; and Yes the party that had 76% support in elections to Westminster in 2019 has run aground as much as its leader has been run to ground. But this is a hollow victory: the political projects they support as alternatives, whether its a rose-tinted Federalism of a Never Land or the sharp boot of the Conservatives lie as unlikely to see electoral support in Scotland as ever. They have won nothing. They are a negation. Where Union once promised stability and diversity it now brings poverty and the Patriotic Alternative in Skegness. 

As Adam Ramsay has written: “Much of the coverage of Sturgeon’s resignation seems to have been based on the assumption that she and Salmond cast some kind of magic spell over the people of Scotland, and that her departure is a disaster for the independence movement. But, while she certainly is an impressive politician and it’s hard to see her departure as anything other than bad for the SNP, the primary force driving support for independence is revulsion at the British state. And that feeling isn’t likely to go away.”

The Limits of Devolution

The failure of muscular unionism, other than as an instrumental device to suppress the vote is clear, Nothing has been won. This is a Zombie Unionism with an uncertain future. What is the endgame? With the Yes movement the goal is clear, or at least it was. We want a functioning democracy with as much independence as modern states can deliver. With the No movement what do they want? It’s not entirely clear. They want the status quo, seemingly at all costs and with no threshold. There is no lurch to the right, no breaking of law, no act of political violence that will prevent them clinging tighter to the wreckage and saying ‘this is fine”.

Now, among the frenzied celebration from the media class, the question emerges, what more do they want? It’s clear that Kate Forbes – if she is victorious – won’t challenge Westminster over the use of the S35. It’s an anomaly of the anti-trans reform lobby that while they masquerade as being the most fervent and agitated supporters of independence – they offer up a sort of quietism to Westminster if its convenient to quash legislation passed by overwhelming majority in Holyrood they don’t like.

S35’s were once a marginal anomaly, now they are becoming normal and cheered on by those of (supposed) left and right to attack their enemies within the Yes movement and the SNP. There is now an unholy alliance between those forces whose entire outlook is to destroy the SNP leadership from within the party, and those Unionists who have always had this aim. Neither have a credible alternative. This is not to say that the SNP leadership has not brought much of this debacle into being, they clearly have.

Now we are faced with the bleak reality that – as George Gunn points out – devolution is a powerless option, and, incredibly, becoming less powerful. We’re now left with the bizarre question: is devolution something we should defend? The idea seemed ridiculous even a few years ago. Now it looks like the Unionist strategy is not just to defeat any possibility of independence but to destroy devolution too.

If the purpose of devolution was to cement the British state it has failed and now must be destroyed. As Scott Hames has written: “Devolution is a creature of high politics, where it names a conservative, state-nationalist strategy for re-cementing UK sovereignty on terms acceptable to public opinion in Scotland and Wales. It is a managerial sort of twentieth-century nationalism, of and for the state-nation, intended to strengthen the social, emotional and political anchorage of the UK’s established governing arrangements (including the party duopoly). This is not a nationalism of pro-British folksong, but grey Whitehall officials plotting how to canalise ‘national feeling’ in Scotland and Wales, carrying it safely away from separatism.”

But devolution failed in that task and yet has also failed as a ‘stepping stone’ to independence.

Proxies and Patsies

So we come to the SNP elections for a new leader, a contest characterised by self-interest and hidden agendas, proxy-candidates and patsies. The party, for so long a paragon of unity and discipline has descended quickly into a pit of factions and sects that have overshadowed everything. If Brexit-Britain has us hurtling back to the 1970s with NF immigration polices and union-bashing, so too does Devo-Scotland with It’s Scotland Oil returning as if climate change was just a chimera and denouncing gay-marriage as if the 80s and 90s just didn’t happen at all.

Ash Regan – who allegedly worked for Commonweal – advocates abandoning the SNP’s (already inadequate) commitment to Net Zero saying she will not support an accelerated net zero path which “turns off the North Sea taps”. Regan is the proxy for the Cherry-Salmond-McAlpine wing of the movement. She now has said she believes Scotland will be allowed its independence “without a referendum” if enough voters support pro-independence parties in an election. Quite how this is more coherent than Sturgeon’s de facto referendum plan is unclear, its just better because its not Sturgeon. Thankfully the true believers have already started to claim that the vote is being rigged in case their preferred candidate fails. If all else fails a new conspiracy can be invented and will be devoured faithfully.

The enthusiasm for this position may be a tactical one motivated by the idea that Regan’s party (or parties) have potential support in the NE. But such a position is just incompatible with climate reality. As the UN and the IPCC have repeatedly stated: new fossil fuels are incompatible with a stable climate, and mean millions will face unliveable conditions, resulting in mass displacement and death.

Kate Forbes is the favoured candidate of the British tabloids and the small ‘c’ conservatives from within the party. Now it turns out she owes her political life to an internship sponsored by an anti-abortion Christian lobby group that doesn’t disclose its financial backers. The group, Christian Action, Research and Education (CARE), is known for its opposition to abortion, sex education and LGBTIQ+ rights. The revelations expose not just the social conservatism within the SNP but the fact that it is unlikely to survive this process intact.

There is no unifying candidate. Out of this process will come profound change and the possibility of two independence parties.

What is remarkable about some of the discourse is the idea that by allying with Alba there will be some benefit to the independence movement. This is a classic (and ongoing) case of confusing the audience. The challenge is not to persuade the Alba voters to support independence, they already do and represent a tiny splinter of the wider movement. Looking outwards to the wider electorate, rather than inwards to the movement is key.

As I have said before: “The single thing that is needed is for the SNP – and the independence movement – to show how creating a functioning democracy will improve social conditions for millions facing economic crisis on a scale they’ve never experienced before. This and only this will change things.”

The Failure of Politics

If, as Neil Mackay has suggested: “The SNP is unravelling, and with it any notion that the party is a truly progressive force in Scottish politics” there may be some upside to the present crisis. When the current blood-letting has ended there will need to be a major reconfiguration. It’s hard to see how some of the candidates and their supporters can co-exist within the same political project.

But if the debacle raises profound questions about the strategic failure of the SNP under its current leadership, it also raises profound questions about party politics. Maybe political parties don’t bring about real change? This then is a failure of politics not just a failure of devolution or the SNP. And for those waiting in the wings? The Liberal Democrats have all but disappeared from public life; the Tories will whine and wail but contribute precisely nothing positive to the body politic in Scotland; and Scottish Labour may benefit from the SNP disintegration – but Starmer’s re-heated Blairism is hardly catching fire. Starmer is benefitting from Not Being Jeremy Corbyn and from the abject failure of consecutive Conservative administrations. But their stance on Europe, their hangover from Better Together and their air of bedraggled negativity means they are unlikely to make significant electoral inroads.

But, as the saying goes: “it’s always darkest before the dawn”. Reject the miserabilism, embrace the cold dark reality of change and face the future. Independence is not about one individual or one party and the ideal of creating a fully-functioning democracy, a future-facing country ready to rebuild for the challenge of the 21 Century hasn’t just disappeared overnight. The relentless churn from the unionist media has been this: you don’t exist; you couldn’t afford to function; you don’t have language or culture (or economy); everything you do is a failure; and now, ‘independence is over’. Even as Britain faces the humiliation of rationing from the self-induced catastrophe of Brexit, the argument for the Union is weaker than ever. Out of the fallout of the collapse of the Sturgeon era must rise a movement renewed and re-made.


Comments (31)

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  1. Antoine Bisset says:

    Nothing much is happening again. There may be loud voices in the bar and an occasional spilled drink. The bar is owned by others, they do not join in the rammy. The owners don’t mind the effervescence. It has little long term effect and is irrelevant to the plans, purposes and actions of the owners. Quite a handy distraction, really
    So here we are again. In 2015 the MSP and MPs who were elected on an independence ticket added up to 67% of those elected. Nothing happened, again. No convocation, no independence vote by our representatives whom we elected to bring about independence. We did not vote for referenda.
    We voted for secession.
    I joined the SNP in 1964. I campaigned, I voted, I went to meetings, I canvassed. After two or three decades of this I gave up.
    Plus ca change.

  2. gavinochiltree says:

    The all-consuming vitriol and gloating from the Brit Nat commentariat will be their downfall. Yes, Salmond and Sturgeon are side-lined, but Scots won’t be fooled by Anglo-British hucksterism for ever. We have gone from “ 4 equal nations” and “federalism” to absolutely nothing—-or less than nothing with Jacks s35 repression of democracy.
    Since the ‘60’s the independence movement has waxed then waned but each successive wave has washed further up the beach. The splits in the SNP at a time when we were getting close, is a wake-up call to the rest of us. Some, perhaps many will fall by the wayside, but looking at individual contributions from some elected SNP politicians, that might be a help rather than a hindrance.
    There is a problem with the relentless bias of the media which needs addressed.

  3. Paddy Farrington says:

    I agree with much of this. But this caught my attention: “This is not to say that the SNP leadership has not brought much of this debacle into being, they clearly have.” That is, of course, what the pro-Alba faction within and outside the SNP assert, as well as sections of the far left. For my part, I think that simply blaming leaderships for their betrayals gets you nowhere. It has zero explanatory power. Far better to try and understand the forces at play, which have their own dynamic, and often deeper roots.

    How do you explain the sudden resurgence within the Yes movement (it goes much wider than the SNP) of such vocal social conservatism, the trashing of climate change objectives, and the disparagement of alliance politics with the Scottish Greens? None of that can credibly be laid at the door of “the leadership”. I sense that many of the seeds of the present internal SNP strife must have been there back in 2014 and earlier, and have been present within the wider Yes movement ever since. In that sense it’s a mistake, I think, to counter-pose the SNP and the wider movement. It’s not just the SNP that needs to change, but the wider Yes movement too. And the left within it.

    Where I do think the SNP leadership does carry a measure of responsibility is for not taking stock of just how shallow and fragile the rainbow politics of 2014 actually were, and for not seeking to remedy this by engaging in far more political discussion. I hope the progressive group around Humza Yusaf will learn from this experience that progressive politics need to be fought for and reinvented at every turn. The SNP leadership contest will at least provide us with some measure of the relative strengths of this and the other factions in contention, and may give us a better idea of just how long the long march that lies ahead will be.

  4. John Watson says:

    “It’ always darkest before the dawn.” By God, this has been one helluva long night if you’re an independence supporter, and it looks like it’ll drag on for a while (years?) yet.

    That said, the UK state is not going to change its spots and Scotland’s predicament within it won’t change either, so I fervently hope that a renewed and a remade independence movement does arise from this unholy mess.

    Unfortunately I don’t expect to be around to see it. I suspect there’s a lot of fall out still to come and my darkest fear is that we end up back on square one. It could be a long road to recovery and I’m running out of years.

    What makes it such a bitter pill is that it didn’t need to end up like this and I just hope that the next generation – and it will be a new crowd because our one (the politicians, pontificators and us activists) have messed up, big time – learn the lessons of the failure we have lived through.

    What are they? Well from my perspective: (1) don’t give all your agency to politicians, (2) don’t hold all your eggs in one basket, and (3) beware of false idols. Actually, I’ll add a couple more: learn the lessons of history and how other countries have won their independence, and ditch the middle class liberals (they’re too fond of their own comforts).

    Still no sign of that morning sunrise yet. We live in hope though.

  5. SleepingDog says:

    If the SNP’s commitment to Net Zero is already inadequate, it suggests that its co-governing Green Party’s red lines were drawn in the wrong place.
    Of course this “raises profound questions about party politics”, this and many other failures of politics in these isles. But the range of mainstream political discourse is so locked down as to keep even globally-commonplace republicanism to the fringes.

    Generally speaking, although an unsafe assumption, divergent wings of a movement, independent of party managerialism, help keep the movement more honest by critiqueing the weaknesses and wrongdoings of other wings. Party unity fosters dishonesty. But we cannot look back to the past for a model of healthy politics (at least, I’m not aware one exists in replicable form, perhaps that falls under hauntology). We need to build a new one, and expect the need to continuously improve and adapt on a stable core (just as our ethics has a stable biological core, at least until biodivergent sects appear).

    Perhaps the true value of democracy is not to come up with whole and contending policy frameworks, but primarily to clean the upper mechanisms of a planetary-realistic-ideology-driven policy framework geared to planetary health and encoded in constitutions and international treaties; and only secondarily to propose and decide between diverse policies that do not conflict with the upper policy framework. #biocracynow
    Meanwhile we continue to research the limitations of humans as political animals on a global stage, and work on helpful solutions (so we don’t blow ourselves up, poison the environment or kill off millions of species of our planetary cohabitants).

  6. David Grant says:

    “The single thing that is needed is for the SNP – and the independence movement – to show how creating a functioning democracy will improve social conditions for millions facing economic crisis on a scale they’ve never experienced before. This and only this will change things.” Absolute truth. But the SNP will need to field a leader everyone can get behind, believing they will be resolute in the delivery of that functioning democracy.

    Great article, Mike. Always good to hear your voice on these vital matters.

  7. Jake Solo says:

    That’s the second piece in a row that’s a “what’s wrong with the SNP” or “what’s wrong with the leadership contest” that traduces statements and policies of 2 candidates but completely ignores huge issues with the other. It’s not an honest take.

    A movement “renewed and remade” under Humza Yousaf is just a laughable prospect. I dare anybody to argue different. Under him, independence officially becomes an aspiration rather than a policy.

    And what’s this about not being able to do-exist in the same project? The project is Scottish self determination and self government. What excludes you from it is not believing in it and nothing else. There is no right or wrong way to believe in independence. It’s either/or, not a spectrum.

    1. To be honest I don’t have any more faith in Humza than the other two candidates …

  8. Gordon Benton says:

    Excellent discourse … but the reason for omitting Humza Yousaf? The way things are working out …
    It’s gonna be ‘as you were’ or is it? Do we yet know the real Humza?

  9. Tom Ultuous says:

    What bothers me more than anything is the lack of ideas of how we proceed to make Scotland’s wishes clear. I’ve put the idea below up before but received no feedback. I’ve also put it up on MSN several times. I get a few likes and a string of angry faces from the yoons but not one of the latter have ever commented on it because they haven’t a clue how they’d respond to it. Could you all please have a read and if there’s something about it you don’t like then say so or give me a better idea. Please don’t just ignore it though because not even having a discussion on this leaves me with the impression that the independence movement is indeed constipated and is going down with a whimper.

    The Scottish govt should hold a referendum and state that a majority must vote YES and the total YES vote must equate to >50% of eligible voters multiplied by the turnout (84.6%) at the last referendum. That is, a majority must vote YES and the total YES vote must be > 42.3% of eligible voters. To put it another way, the number of YES votes must equate to what would’ve been a majority in 2014.

    Why? Because that way any Yoon boycott will have no effect. Indeed, if YES has the most votes but the > 42.3% figure is not reached, it leaves the question open because there wasn’t a NO majority. In other words, a Yoon boycott will have a negative effect over and beyond them not actively campaigning.

    If a YES majority and > 42.3% is achieved we should unilaterally declare ourselves an independent nation and seek support from the EU, UN, US etc. It’s then up to Westminster to choose whether cooperation or violence is the way forward.

    A YES or NO vote that isn’t > 42.3% means another referendum cannot be held within the lifetime of the current or next parliament.

    A NO vote that’s > 42.3% means another referendum cannot be held within the lifetime of current or next 3 parliaments.

    All dependent on independence supporting parties retaining a majority of MSPs at Holyrood.

    ** The 42.3% figure could be modified based on median turnout at all previous referendums.

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @Tom Ultuous, I think your proposal is unfair because it retrospectively puts a new meaning on voting in the 2014 Referendum which was never even suggested to voters at that time. It also seems to be partisan in intent. And the electorate has changed, so these picky percentages seem highly artificial.

      I generally dislike all attempts to bounce a decision over a low bar, even though I support Scottish Independence. My view is that there will be a high price to pay if such attempts succeed; therefore I continue to prefer a high-bar, path-smoothed option.

      1. Tom Ultuous says:

        So give me one SD.

        I don’t think my proposal favours either side. Both have to achieve it. If the percentage sought is inaccurate it will become more accurate with each referendum.

        1. SleepingDog says:

          @Tom Ultuous, since your pitch is to negate the effect of a ‘Yoon boycott’, I hardly think your claim of neutrality is in earnest. What exactly is the significance of the turnout in 2014? We aren’t even sure what the wording of a new Referendum question might be. Surely a new Referendum should be treated in its own right (an exception would be for formal series of referendums as specified in agreements like the Nouméa Accord):éa_Accord

          Think of the expression of favouring Scottish Independence amongst the population of Scotland as a waveform (a gross simplification but not as grossly simplistic as a Yes/No vote on the day), rising and falling, peaks and troughs, in the past and in the future of any referendum. To judge a question as momentous and effectively irreversible as leaving the UK, we should be sure that the troughs will clear the bar. If we insist that bar should be 50% of turnout + 1, we risk flip-flopping into a trough, possibly exacerbated buyer’s remorse as in Brexit, and shortly have Unionist parties governing an Independent Scotland, a nightmarish scenario.

          Better to ensure that the troughs clear the bar with a supermajority requirement, which is common enough.

          When I last looked into this, it seemed that if not most of recent successful Independence Referendums would have cleared a 2:1 majority of electorate. Once interpreted pre-referendum support for Independence reaches a stable majority, there are likely some snowball effects as the option becomes more normalised and less frightening. This is what I mean be a high bar, and the reassurance which follows, so people are not afraid that their vote will plunge Scotland into chaotic division and animosity, and may be encouraged to vote Yes.

          By path-smoothed, that is largely up to the political circus in the UK and its devolved/component territories/nations. The high-bar may be offered as a bargaining chip in return for making exit easier and less costly, but I don’t advocate this being a red line. If one’s intention would be to break up the British Empire, then this path-smoothing might best be done via a new UK Constitution, encoded so that the colonial territories and union nations have a permanent, formal, no-fault, assisted means of leaving. Other cemented aspects of the Empire can similarly be optionalised (monarchy, established church, treaty authority and so forth). Our parting gift can be increased democracy and transparency.

          If an Independent Scotland is simply sitting on the border of a sullen and resentful British Empire, itself policy-slaved to the USAmerican Empire, that causes us innumerable problems. If the bar is high, the exit is less arguable; if the path is smoothed, it shows acceptance and is more beneficial to all involved parties. I use the phrase often enough it should have its own abbreviation; call it HB+PS. Moreover, this is typically how politics is done, with some kind of compromise that lets participants save face whatever the result, and avoid the worst-scenario outcomes.

          1. Tom Ultuous says:

            All you’re effectively saying is we should do what I suggest but make the minimum bar > 50% of the eligible voters. If the turnout was 84.6% again that would require 59.1% plus of them to vote YES. To get that we’d probably require the Tory manifesto to contain a promise to nuke Scotland because, even then, the Loyalists would still vote NO.

            For me, the most important thing is to have a referendum solely about independence because it’s the only way we’ll create the required momentum.

            The Scottish govt should also go to court (assuming this is possible) to challenge Westminster lies. For example, to challenge the “there is no pot” argument the Tories put forward regarding pensions. It had already been conceded by the Tories in 2014 they would honour NICs just as they do with EU workers who’ve returned home with enough stamps. Then the Johnson mob claimed that as there was no pension pot and pensions were paid from current NICs that Scotland would have to fund its own pensions. They’re effectively claiming the UK govt has no pension liabilities because, if what they say is true, it would mean they could abolish NICs, increase taxes instead and “there would be no pension pot”.

          2. SleepingDog says:

            @Tom Ultuous, if we want an Independent Scotland to take its place amongst the world’s nations, I recommend looking outward at international norms and forward, not inward and backward. To be scrupulously fair, something I hope will become an ingrained trait of our new polity, those wishing to rejoin the United Kingdom at some future opportunity should have to face exactly the same high bar, and be provided with a similar smoothed path.

            The backwardness of the quasi-Constitutioned Imperial British rogue state may soon become an embarrassment as its international influence dwindles, and I don’t know how much time the current arrangement of the United Nations Security Council with its five permanent members can have left. The UK may be exposed to many legal challenges backed by greater international condemnation than the Chagos depossession or the colonial torture regime in Kenya. I would not be surprised if there were long-drawn-out secret negotiations aimed at coercing the British imperial state into a more modern encoded Constitution (for saving face, it would have to look like a native idea, I suppose). The United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation meets every year to wearily condemn the imperial holdouts, after all. And the Caricom reparations movement seems to be gathering strength. Big oil (some of whose corporations are headquartered in London) has been successfully legally prosecuted in various jurisdictions.

            So if you are looking for a legal humbling of the Westminster government, and indeed the wider British imperial state apparatus, such a successful challenge might come from outside the UK, from multiple angles, at unexpected and (for the government) inconvenient times. Such a pile on could easily force Westminster into sweeping concessions (whatever spin it puts on them). There the web of lies you mention will serve as no defence.

    2. Antoine Bisset says:

      It is just too complex and at the same time relies on tiny margins. There is no reason why there should not be an independence vote at Holyrood every year. As soon as a majority, however small, is achieved, then we secede. Simple. Indeed, had our MSPs and MPs held a joint vote in 2015 we could have seceded, with no legal dubiety, and would have been independent within the year.
      There will be no separation until it is done. There will be no agreement from Westminster before the event. That has become obvious, surely, even to the most feet-dragging gradualists.
      As for referenda, they are easily fixed. I am convinced the 2014 one was.

      1. Tom Ultuous says:

        What’s complex about it? It’s just a referendum and the minimum requirement is solely there to ensure the referendum still has meaning if the yoons boycott it (which they won’t).

        If there’s a majority at an election, all they yoons will say is people weren’t voting solely on independence.

    3. Tom Ultuous says:

      So, is that the sum of ideas from Bella Caledonia then? Antoine thinks the idea would be too complex (despite the fact it’s a simple YES NO referendum if the yoons don’t boycott it) and SD thinks I’m cheating even though the minimum bar applies to both sides and we should instead wait for the UK to collapse. I think it’s more urgent than that SD. If the DUP accept Sunak’s protocol deal he’ll be hailed as the new messiah and the media bias could well see us get another 5+ years of this lot. We may even get a Republican USA on top of that. Full blown Britannia Unchained and private health to look forward to.

      Nobody else got anything to add? A heavy leaflet drop maybe?

      1. Antoine Bisset says:

        I am a fairly simple person. The calculation of the bar seems to be plucked from the air. People understand 50% +1 vote, and 2/3 majority, but not the previous referendum figures pushed through a differential calculus machine relating to the previous referendum that was rigged.
        The past is done with. Robert Bannatyne Cunningham Graham stood for Parliament on a Scottish Home rule ticket in 1886. He won. It has been a long haul. The SNP gained traction in the 70s and gained support with clever slogans. They did not achieve independence. No referendum will do it.
        Keep in mind that the UK recognised the independence of Kosovo within 24 hours after their Assembly voted for it. Kososvo. A small piece of land that was never in its history anything more than a bishopric. Compare and contrast. The UK will not relinquish its grip on Scotland until forced to. Referenda won’t work. Mass voting is too easily fixed. Only a vote by elected representatives might work. Did we really set up a Scottish Parliament to decide who can use what toilet? Or to do what the Scottish people actually seem to want?

      2. SleepingDog says:

        @Tom Ultuous, so you want to panic, then? 🙂 Pursuit of one route to Scottish Independence doesn’t typically preclude pursuing others (I have said contending wings of movements might help keep each more honest by mutual criticism).

        I watched an Inside Story episode on Al Jazeera about the attacks on democratic institutions in Brazil by the far right, and I agree with views of the panelists that this expression is partly a sign of weakness, partly propagandisement of people with poor social skills through social media. In any sane polity, followers of planetary-realistic ideologies should outnumber Abrahamic fundamentalists, parasocial-relationship Monarchists, war-romanticising Fascists, market-worshipping Neoliberals and gender-identity Soullists. The perpetuation of Rightist political power by promoting increasingly deranged worldviews surely has an upper limit and a built-in backlash/reality-check/awakening potential.

        I understand that not everyone has an internationalist view of Scottish Independence, but when we jump over the binfire of UK politics we should be looking to land on the international stage with the majority of our appendages braced for impact and suitably aligned. I appreciate you floating a new idea, but to me it does not respect international norms, and that is problematic.

        1. “Contending wings of movements might help keep each more honest by mutual criticism” – not if they are incompatible – I see two parties the far more likely outcome

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @Editor, in terms of the SNP, quite possibly a split; but I was thinking more broadly of movements like the USAmerican civil rights, UK women’s suffrage, perhaps UK labour when it had an independent labour strand, nuclear disarmament (unilateralist vs multilateralist), animal rights… There are examples of incompatibility, like I suppose the anarchist split between the propaganda of the Word and the propaganda of the Deed.

            We still apparently have fringe Independence voices hoping for restoration of a Scottish Monarchy and the restitution of a colonial-era army/navy, but I don’t know if these factions are large enough to constitute a split in the movement.

            A problem with political parties is that for purposes of gaining seats, patrons, influence and power, rational argument is often downgraded, loyalty to leadership prized, reasonable dissent opportunistically stifled, crimes and misdemeanours hidden, consensus manufactured (sometimes by horse-trading, sometimes by defenestration), and often differences with perceived rivals within the same wider movements artificially widened for the sake of distinctiveness (in-group/out-group polarisation). Saying that, many UK institutions which operate less in the open are far worse culprits for closing ranks and embodying the Great British Values of Hypocrisy and Cant (public virtue, private vice).

    4. John Learmonth says:

      Hi Tom,

      Who are Yoons?

      Thx John

      1. Tom Ultuous says:

        Unionists John.

        1. John Learmonth says:

          So why don’t you call them unionists then, rather than use a derogarty term to describe (just) over 50% of your fellow countrymen?

          1. Tom Ultuous says:

            It’s because I’m bad John.

    5. Tom Ultuous says:

      To simplify my idea.

      The Scottish govt arranges an independence referendum.

      If the yoons organise a boycott, the Scottish govt states that the referendum will go ahead in any case and if the YES vote amounts to what would’ve been a majority in the 2014 referendum then it’s assumed that independence is the wish of the Scottish people.

      If the yoons continue to advise a boycott that means they won’t be campaigning which in turn makes it easier to achieve the equivalent of that 2014 majority.

      If you were Douglass Ross, what would you recommend?

      1. Wul says:

        …and the next day, my son gets chibbed after a night out in Glasgow for wearing a “Yes” badge.

        And half the population of Scotland are furious and feel betrayed at losing their status as UK subjects and decide to get organised as a fighting force to “reclaim” their birthright.

        Yeah….what could go possible wrong?

        Remember we all still need to live, work and get on with our neighbours in this post-independence country. Otherwise it ain’t worth living in.

        1. Tom Ultuous says:

          The whole point of the idea is to stop the yoon boycott but, if it goes ahead, passing the minimum percentage insures YES would almost certainly have had a majority in any case.

          What makes you think your son wouldn’t have been chibbed in any case? I’m sure there were a few chibbed in George Square when the Loyalists celebrated the NO victory with their “blues brothers” from England in 2014. What would they be like if they lost?

  10. Alistair Taylor says:

    I forgot what I was going to say.

    Where are we, who are we?
    I’m going to see the King, and ask him for some cake, and then we’ll share it with all the people.
    And everyone lives happily ever after.

    Or, alternatively, I get locked up in Ballater police station, and crucified by the Press and Journal. (It’s a work in progress).

    Yours, William Jesus shake spear macwallace.
    The Cakes o’ Balmoral.
    Coming to a theatre near you soon.

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