Is independence possible without the SNP?

It’s a question that few of us have asked in the last decade or more. The assumption, however misplaced has been that the SNP were the vehicle to exert pressure on the British state to conceded constitutional change. That now seems far-fetched, for many it has for some time. As Jamie Maxwell writes in Politico: “The result leaves Scotland trapped in a divided and decaying British state.” A resurgent Labour talks of ‘restoring Devolution’, whatever that means. Many think it means bypassing the elected devolved government wherever possible.

Labour are doing what they have said they would do, not very much at all. If the gap between the centrist liberal media and the actual scale and tenor of this victory is a chasm, it is also true that the SNP took a battering at the general election and there is very little reason to think they have the guts or knowledge to engage in the sort of radical re-thinking required to make the real changes needed. So where does that leave us?

Is independence possible without the SNP?

The schisms and infighting within the party and the wider independence movement are clear, and the proposed alternatives, such as Alba are a busted flush. So where do we go?

If we think back to 2014 and remember the verve and feeling of insurgency that was around we can realise that none of that was compatible with a professional mainstream political party. The SNP have rightly been lambasted for the way they close down YES, commandeered the movement and mobilised that energy into electoral gain, now for no apparent gain. But that’s what professional mainstream political parties do. The idea of an enthused vibrant population of people, with multiple sources of leaders and leadership is anathema to electoral politicians who view such dynamism as a threat not an opportunity.

Complaining about the SNP is fair enough but they just are what they are. The notion that the idea of independence somehow made them different just didn’t pan out in reality. The sort of drive and ambition (and guts) needed to break with the British state was never going to be carried out by such a slick political machine, tied closely to landed and corporate interests and very comfortable in the corridors of power. This is not about individuals and it is not to suggest that there are some very good people in the SNP. But it is a reality check about what electoral politics is, and the constraints and context it works within.

When, a few days before the 2014 vote, the opinion poll landed showing Yes in the ascendancy, the entire British establishment panicked. You could see it. That had very little to do with the SNP, it had to do with the vast Yes movement exerting pressure in unexpected places, mobilising communities who had long ago abandoned politics in disgust and disaffection. Who would blame them?

It may be that you think that John Swinney only had a few weeks to prepare for this election, that the police investigation might ‘blow over’, that the SNP might take a long hard look at itself. Don;t hold your breath. John Swinney and Kate Forbes are the continuity SNP and have no commitment to anything like the radical change required to make the party a viable vehicle for independence. Sorry, but its patently true. Both are ‘small c’ conservatives committed to mainstream economics and with no hinterland suggesting anything other than a commitment to managed decline and steady-as-she-goes business as usual. They are your undertakers not your liberators.

To underline this point, shortly before the election Lesley Riddoch undertook interviews with all the pro-indy party leaders. She asked Stephen Flynn whether there was any chance of a change of tactic or strategy for the SNP Westminster cohort? The answer was an emphatic No. As others have pointed out the SNP’s decline will deprive us of Flynn’s excoriating weekly blasts at the government. But while he was (is) no doubt the SNP’s most effective communicator, who cares? It mattered little. It didn’t matter when they won 56 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats and it won’t matter now they have 9. Nothing matters. Nothing shifts.

Electoral politics within the British state don’t work. We’ve just seen that. Starmer’s victory is the acceptable face of change. Promise to continue Tory economic dogma and The Sun will back you. For all of the hype about the victory its largely meaningless. This is an inert political culture.

So what do I suggest among the doom and gloom?

Well I don’t think a relentless assault on the SNP is really productive, nor do I think that descending into the culture wars narrative is either.

What’s needed is to locate the cause of independence within a wider framework of radical social change and building a movement that sustains and propels it. The British state is frightened when that happens, we’ve seen that in our lifetimes. People will argue that ‘the people’ aren’t ready for such change, but what is the alternative? “Scotland trapped in a divided and decaying British state”? The Conservatives are already readying themselves for an accommodation with Reform, and a nascent quasi-fascist element within English politics is a real possibility.

For those who argue that ‘the people’ will not respond to a more radical offer, you have to look at the demographics and the generational betrayal that has happened including the lack of meaningful action on climate change, the Brexit debacle and the national question. This is an epochal moment. It’s time for the disparate movements that fight poverty and war, our housing crisis and our climate catastrophe to join forces in a new front for real change.

There is two years to the Scottish elections – and within that timeframe there needs to be new alignments that set aside differences and coalesce around a programme of genuine radical change. A few years go we gathered around a slogan that ‘Another Scotland is Possible’ and today that seems a bleak hope. But maybe not. The Labour victory, despite the enormous hype is slim pickings, based on a punishment election and a fragile – some would say pathetic offering from Labour. This will turn to dust because the problems we face as a society are not going to be resolved by a Blair-retread or by Douglas Alexander winning in East Lothian. The idea that these people. these policies, this system is up to the task of facing our meta-crises is hilarious.

The faith that people have had in the SNP is understandable but it is beyond its time. The events of the last few years show us that electoral politics is bankrupt and dissolute. Faith in it delivering real change is a sort of folk-memory based on very little real evidence.

It’s true that the Left and progressive forces are not in a strong position, so calling for a united front may seem far-fetched. And yet the failure of electoral politics and the deep and wide disaffection reflects something beyond alienation and nihilism. There is an opportunity in this darkness to reach out to something else. We need to become ungovernable. This will require uncomfortable shifts and realisation for people stuck in their ways and (over) committed to the same old. But what we have just been told is there is no alternative but real change.

This will be too vague for the person it was written for (Andy) but I suppose the point is that when you are in moments of real profound crisis, just doing the same thing over and over and over becomes ridiculous. This is where we are. Do you want to keep going?

This isn’t an easy thing to do, but it’s a necessary thing to do. It will take time and effort. It will only work if it involves the thousands and thousands of people working in their communities, their workplaces and in their minds and bodies to exert change. It won’t work (at all) if it is colonised by the old left and dead ideas.




Comments (144)

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  1. Meg Macleod says:

    So where is the starting point?..Leslie R.?
    Common sense and vision all in one.
    Just a thought….

  2. Daniel Raphael says:

    The part I wonder about is your ending: “…It won’t work (at all) if it is colonised by the old left and dead ideas.” Is that a redundancy? I don’t know UK politics (or you) well enough to know precisely what/who you’ve in mind when you refer to “the old left,” (surely not Labour; nor Corbyn? nor…?) so I must only ask for a clarification. The substance of the article, however, seems clear enough and is indeed spot/right on.

    1. I’m thinking of certain sections of the left in Scotland

  3. Kevan Shaw says:

    Some interesting thoughts however the question set in your title is not answered. You have made the case that independence is not possible WITH the SNP at least in its current state.

    The big problem is getting the Scottish people to engage with the idea and demonstrate their desire, and realistically, need for independence.

    This is also a problem with the majority of Scots being disengaged with politics. As an activist this is so clear when trying to engage people on street stalls or when canvassing, in the past few weeks this lack of interest let alone engagement has been pronounced.

    The big question is how to engage the majority then how to demonstrate their desire for change? Rampant inflation and skyrocketing energy costs have not achieved this, neither has the blatant theft of Scottish renewable energy and further dismantling of our industrial base (Grangemouth for example)

    What will out take to raise the Scottish people from this torpor?

    1. John says:

      Kevan – I understand your frustration but blaming electorate is going to get us nowhere.
      First thing to do is stop talking amongst ourselves and actually go and ask the 500,000 list voters why they didn’t vote SNP at GE.
      Similarly post 2014 Referendum there should have been a comprehensive listening excercise to 2 million voters who voted No.
      I suspect that although 50% support independence in polls they do not see this as a priority at present where day to day economic issues, seeing a GP , dentist and long NHS waiting lists are top concerns. In addition there appears no viable, democratic route to achieve independence so it slips further back as a priority.
      Answer these questions before 2026 and some of the lost voters may return.

    2. “This is also a problem with the majority of Scots being disengaged with politics” – I think what we saw in 2014 was the prospect of real change, actual change and that’s what inspired people. Its not a surprise that the turnout was low at this election as the politics on offer was so dire (imho)

      1. John says:

        The fare on a UK wide basis was dire – Labour unwilling to outline any policies apart from magical growth and less incompetence and deception than Tories.
        It is reckoned that approximately 400,000 voters were turned away due to new is requirements.
        Scotland wise the campaign was primarily fought by Labour, Tories and Lib Dem’s on issues devolved to Holyrood. I am not sure what to deduce from this – does it show decreased relevance of Westminster to Scotland, increasing importance of Holyrood or perceived vulnerability of SNP on Holyrood record?

      2. Nicky J says:

        We saw a huge turnout of which 55% voted for NO CHANGE!

  4. George Archibald says:

    Hopefully 2026 will give us a better idea of just how many people in Scotland want/believe in Independence. We will see if they will put their vote where their mouth/heart is.
    The SNP could be better, a lot better, but they are the only realistic route/vehicle to Independence. Dynamic leadership would help (a Trump/Johnston/Farage type but with a heart, a brain, and a conscience!) If you see what I mean. To rally support among the great Scottish public who are largely gullible and politically illiterate and unengaged.
    A tall order but who might have foreseen in 2014 just what would happen with the aforementioned trio of nutters in the ten years ahead to 2024?!
    So anything is possible. We just need to tend our wounds, learn, and try to get momentum going again as we approach Holyrood 2026.
    As Churchill said…..”Never, never, never, give up”.

  5. John McLeod says:

    You seem to be setting this up as an either/or – either electoral politics or becoming ungovernable. I suggest the we need both, and that this is in fact what has been happening for a while.

  6. Tom Ultuous says:

    There was a propaganda onslaught on the SNP in the 3 years preceding that election. On MSN 95% of articles were anti-SNP / anti-independence. For example they would print a negative article on, say, Scotland’s NHS / policing / housing / homelessness in isolation, with no mention of the fact that all were in better shape than rUK, to the extent that anyone reading them would think Scotland was falling apart under the SNP while England / Wales were ambling along under the Tories & Labour. Labour and Lib Dems actually made a good job of lumping the SNP in with the Tories as if the former were as much to blame for the crumbling UK as the latter. The SNP didn’t help matters with their replies to attacks by Labour on the NHS in Holyrood where they rarely pointed out the performance chasm between the Scottish NHS and the Labour run Welsh NHS. I often wondered if they were even aware of the figures relating to them. If they’re not willing to put in the work to get and quote them then it’s no surprise that the mobility scooter loyal just go along with their press baron masters’ wish lists. The Very British Coup is now so embedded in their psyche that when the charges are inevitably dropped they’ll believe the police tents were Nichola Sturgeon’s idea.

    The most disappointing thing about that election was that so many supposed independence supporters seem to have swallowed the gutter press narrative. If they’re that easy how will they possibly dismiss Project Fear if it ever comes to a referendum? Are we in a position where ~50% say they favour independence but a fair proportion never have any intention of walking the walk on the big day? Depressing stuff.

    As for what can we do? Before the SNP foolishly took the independence question to the supreme court, they had set aside £20 million of taxpayer’s money for the independence referendum. At the time, all the Scottish Tories had to say was they were wasting taxpayer’s money and they’d organise a boycott. As I’ve suggested before, boycotts can be overcome by assuming that if 42.3% of the Scottish electorate (50% of the turnout in 2014) vote in favour then it’s assumed to be the will of the Scottish people. Anyway, to get to my point, are all referendums now banned in devolved Scotland by the supreme court ruling? I mean, could they have a referendum to see if we should abandon oil? I’m not suggesting they should or that they’d get the result they wanted but is there anything to stop them having a referendum on whether there should be a legitimate way for Scotland to leave the UK, e.g. the legitimacy for a Scottish govt with more than 50% of the vote to organise an independence referendum? While it wouldn’t be binding and WM would just ignore it, it would at least be something we could present to the UN.

    As was the flavour of Mike’s article, we need to get people marching. We need to create some momentum.

    1. florian albert says:

      ‘We need to get people marching’.

      Marching where ? Or just marching ?

      1. Tom Ultuous says:

        Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Lanarkshire.

      2. 240709 says:

        We’re already in the middle of the Marching Season. There are people marching all across Lanarkshire. If nothing else, marching provides a great day out.

        1. Tom Ultuous says:

          That particular marching relates to the longest gloat-fest in world history and continued English rule is part of it.

          1. 240709 says:

            But it’s got people marching, created some momentum. How hard can it be?

            And once the independentistas have marched up the hill and marched back down again… so what? What then? Pub and some mutual back-slapping? Hame for a bowl of soup and a bask in the warm moral glow that marching brings?

          2. Tom Ultuous says:

            It’s not the marching that’s the aim, it’s the momentum that brings as in 2014. If we’re marching to say YES to a referendum that asks “Should a Scottish govt elected with 50%+ of the vote have the power to call an independence referendum” then WM saying “we won’t allow this” has ramifications that wouldn’t be there if we’re all sat in the house drinking soup. We need to find ways to make them keep repeating “naw, ye cannae” over and over until it sinks in we’re just a colony and a cash cow of England. We need to make people angry as in the poll tax. Believe it or not, Dame Jackie Baillie’s smug coupon isn’t enough to make people angry.

          3. 240709 says:

            Ah; so the purpose of you (rather than the Unionists) marching is to stoke grudge and grievance… while having a good time.

          4. Tom Ultuous says:

            Yes minus the “good time”.

          5. 240709 says:

            Very Presbyterian!

          6. Tom Ultuous says:

            No, that’s the gloat-fest again. What’s enjoyable about fighting against being denied democracy in your own country?

          7. 240710 says:

            Who’s being denied democracy in these islands? We’ve universal suffrage and relatively free and fair elections to our various representative assemblies, to which our various governments are accountable and which have at their discretion the power to refer matters to a public plebiscite. To claim that we’re ‘denied democracy’ is just more hyperbole that lacks any credibility.

          8. Tom Ultuous says:

            The colonial master’s punkawallah has spoken.

          9. Kevan Shaw says:

            Ask the 400,000 denied the vote because if the unnecessary and age biased requirements for voter ID last week!

          10. SleepingDog says:

            One could argue that the UK sentencing peaceful protestors to jail terms (now often above 1 year) is an example of Administrative Disenfranchisement (or ‘jail-based disenfranchisement’) that flouts the European Court of Human Rights ruling that the UK was in breach of Article 3 of Protocol No 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights in relation to prisoner voting rights:
            BBC News has recently noted:
            “Long jail sentences handed to two Just Stop Oil climate campaigners could stifle protest, the United Nations has warned the UK government.”
            Clearly the UK does not have a universal franchise of adults, and something of a outlier when it comes to international norms.

            Again, the justice system falls under the royal prerogative, which is why we have HM’s prisons, and the hereditary monarch has sweeping immunity from prosecution (which may mean for any imperial war crimes the monarch might be sent immediately to be tried by the ICC, which is one reason such pressure was put on it to drop the British Iraqi torture case, to prevent the British Empire being unravelled in a foreign court). Oh, and the monarch cannot vote, so there’s another gap in the so-called ‘universal’ franchise. Are there others, I wonder?

          11. 240710 says:

            No one was denied the vote; we were only required to confirm our identity, as a check against voter fraud. This is fairly standard procedure in democracies across the work. I used my bus pass to confirm mine; other proofs of identity were acceptable.

          12. John says:

            Dateman – more disingenuous nonsense.
            Electoral fraud was a virtually non existent in UK according to Electoral Commission figures. The major problem in UK has always been electoral participation by sections of society especially the young.
            Being of a certain age I too could use my bus pass but somehow the government, in their wisdom, did not allow similar types of documentation for younger people- I wonder why?
            It was a policy that was brought in not in to resolve an existing problem but to make it more difficult for a section of society, who surprisingly rarely vote Tory to vote.
            It was basically gerrymandering and don’t just take my word for it Jacob Rees Mogg openly admitted it.
            Lastly if you want to bring in identity checks for voting you need to introduce a national identity card as they have on the continent.

          13. 240711 says:

            Are you seriously suggesting that anyone who was eligible to vote in the last election didn’t have access to any of the many forms of photo ID that were acceptable as proof of identity AND couldn’t apply for a Voter Authority Certificate?

            ‘…if you want to bring in identity checks for voting you need to introduce a national identity card as they have on the continent.’

            I agree.

          14. Mr Kevan Shaw says:

            Yes, 400,000 who were turned away at the polling stations and a good chunk of the rest of the 40% who didn’t vote. Did you actually see what was required for polling identity card? Was there sufficient time to get the form and return by post? This is voter suppression.

            By the way why are you hiding behind an anonymous user name?

          15. 240712 says:

            ‘Did you actually see what was required for polling identity card?’

            Yes; it was a very long list.

            ‘Was there sufficient time to get the form and return by post?’


          16. Mr Kevan Shaw says:

            Ok so you are a Tory keen to suppress votes by the young and less privileged. Also still unprepared to put your own name to your obnoxious opinions

          17. John says:

            Just read this morning that turnout last week was 52% which is the lowest figure recorded since universal suffrage began.
            Falling turnout has been a concern since 1970’s yet Tories manage to actively make the problem even worse. Rather sums up their last 14 years in government!

          18. 240712 says:

            Yep; people are slowly coming round to realising that, whoever you vote for, the government always gets in.

          19. John says:

            Dateman is not only obnoxious he is tedious and boring.
            I believe he has been suspended from commenting before and looking at his recent incessant torrent of comments he appears to be trying to provoke another suspension.
            In the meantime probably best to ignore him for the sake of our mental health.

          20. Niemand says:

            ‘Just read this morning that turnout last week was 52% which is the lowest figure recorded since universal suffrage began’.

            Is that a new figure John? All I can find is that it was 60% overall and 59% in Scotland. The figures are one of the lowest it is true, but 52%?

            Interestingly the UK Parliament website says it will publish full, official details next week.

          21. John says:

            Niemand – It was in the Guardian today.

          22. John says:

            Reported by IPPR think tank for Policy Research.
            Like you I await confirmation of official figure next week.

          23. Niemand says:

            Thanks. Just read it. The 52% figure is of the adult population eligible to vote. 60% is for those registered to vote. None of these figures are good.

            But they do not surprise me. People are disillusioned plus the result seemed a forgone conclusion.

          24. 240712 says:

            I downloaded the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) report to which the Guardian alludes: Half of Us – Turnout Patterns at the 2024 General Election .

            The report says that 52% of the adult population in the UK, as per the last census, voted on July 4th.

            It also says that 60% of the electorate (i.e. those registered to vote) voted.

            More significantly for the IPPR:

            a) turnout was 11% higher in constituencies with the highest proportion of over-64s compared to the lowest;

            b) it was 13% higher in constituencies with the highest proportion of homeowners compared to the lowest;

            c) it was 7% higher in constituencies with the lowest proportion of people who identify as coming from an ethnic minority background compared to the highest;

            d) it was 10% higher in constituencies with the lowest proportion of people who identify as Muslim compared to the lowest.

            From this, it infers that the ‘haves’ speak much louder than the ‘have nots’ in British democracy.

            The report concludes with an essay on Two Democratic Futures, which is well worth a read. It makes some interesting recommendations.

          25. 240712 says:

            John and Kevan,

            I wasn’t ‘suspended’, I was ‘blocked’ from commenting. Twice in fact.

            Nor was I ‘cleansed’ from the Augean Stables for being ‘obnoxious’, ‘tedious’, or ‘boring’. I was cleansed’ in November 2022 for spreading ‘smear and lies’ and carrying on ‘a sustained attack to bring the site down’ and again in October 2023 for again spreading ‘smear and lies’, carrying on ‘a sustained attack to bring the site down, AND ignoring ‘any advice to change [my] behaviour’.

            And twice I’ve found myself unblocked. Go figure!

          26. 240712 says:

            ‘By the way why are you hiding behind an anonymous user name?’

            Good question, Kevan.

            I’ve always written pseudonymously, for mainly stylistic reasons, every since I read Kierkegaard – who also wrote pseudonymously – back in the 1980s. I don’t think I’ve ever published anything under my birth-name since.

            For a while, I played around with the names others called me when I managed to provoke them into ad hominem argument and name-calling, as a way of revealing the absurdity of deploying ad hominem argument and name-calling against a pseudonymous author, which was fun for a while but grew boring.

            The ‘date’ thing is my latest conceit. Every morning, when I sit down at my desk and begin my writing day, I open a new document and ‘name’ it with that day’s date. Everything I subsequently write that day is written in that document. The next morning, I open a new document for that day’s writing, and so on and so on.

            I’ve been doing this for decades, first in dead-tree notebooks and then in electronic notebooks and latterly in the cloud. Using the day’s date to name each document automatically ensures that each entry in my writing journal is saved chronologically, which lets me follow how my ideas and impressions evolve over time. This means that my writing journal is not only an anthology of poems, stories, essays, sketches, remarks, observations, and aphorisms and the like; it’s also a kind of autobiography or impression of my life.

            Anyway, every post I make to a blog or discussion board is transferred there from my journal. And because its date/my username changes every day, it also enables moderators like Mike to approve each posting before it appears.

          27. SleepingDog says:

            @Lord Parakeet the Cacophonist, or just parading your utter lack of integrity? Skipping lightly away from all those previous comments where you have been caught out? Ducking Internet searches? Blustering away inconsistencies (and hiding consistencies)? Allowing multiple disguises? Is ‘240712’ the commenter who trumpets about Parliamentary Sovereignty but hasn’t heard of Parliamentary Privilege? The one who plagiarises so frequently without citation to pose as an authority? Who can tell?

          28. John says:

            SD – Dateman’s breakdown of IPRR think tank shows clearly that the fall in electoral participation last week was in the very groups:
            a)who would have less easy access to documents required to vote.
            b)who are less inclined to vote in first place.
            c)who have previously been least inclined to vote Tory.
            In other words if it walks and talks like a duck it probably is a duck i.e. it was a blatant attempt at voter suppression by the Tory government to try and reduce participation in those groups least likely to vote Tory.
            The figures that dateman has exhibited show that to some degree it was successful. Fortunately the Tories had made such a complete mess and were so unpopular it didn’t affect the outcome significantly.

          29. 240713 says:

            But the fly in the ointment of your conspiracy theory, John, is that the turnout patterns at the 2024 general election generally match those of all previous elections to both the Scottish and UK parliaments in the 21st century, elections in which there was no requirement for voters to confirm their identity before they were allowed to vote. As the IPPR report points out, the problem for our democracy is that, compared to the ‘haves’, the ‘have nots’ are less likely to vote anyway.

          30. John says:

            Dateman – I agree with your overall point about voter turnout in some sections of electorate (one of the points I made referred to these groups).
            There is. as I have already stated before, no recent history of any significant electoral fraud. The bigger problem has always been about participation in younger people and ethic minorities rather than the elderly. So why did government make travel passes acceptable documentation for the elderly but not for other groups?
            In trying to solve the virtually non existent problem of electoral fraud the last government, in all probability, actually knowingly (they were warned) excacerbated a known problem of lack of electoral participation in certain groups of society.
            The evidence all points to this legislation being introduced not to reduce electoral fraud but to discourage electoral participation in groups least likely to vote Tory.

          31. 240714 says:

            Yep; the underlying ‘evil’ isn’t ‘the Tories’ or even ‘the bastardin English’; as the IPPR research purports to show, it’s social inequality that limits the participation of the ‘have nots’ in our political processes; it’s a structural rather a moral problem.

            ‘There is… no recent history of any significant electoral fraud.’

            The sore losers in the 2014 referendum would disagree with you there!

            In 2014, in response to evidence that an increasing number fraudsters presenting as others at polling stations, the Electoral Commission recommended that ID should be required in Great Britain before voters are issued with a ballot paper, as is common in democracies across the world, including most European countries.

            In 2015, the Commission published a report on delivering and the costing of a voter ID scheme, which cautioned that accessibility was fundamental and any scheme should be backed up by a free voter certificate for those without an alternative.

            In 2016, the government Anti-Corruption Champion, Lord Pickles, published a report on electoral fraud which highlighted the trust-based nature of polling station voting and recommended that the UK government should consider voter ID.

            Pilots of the scheme were held in 2018 and 2019, the success of which committed the UK government. A policy paper published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities in the wake of those pilots said that the requirement to produce photographic identification is widely acknowledged as an effective and proportionate system for preventing electoral fraud by ensuring that someone is who they say they are before voting and thereby reducing the vulnerabilities in our elections.

            This was no gerrymandering scheme dreamt up by the dastardly Tories in the run-up to the 2024 election. It’s been in the pipeline for the past 10 years, following widespread concerns among all shades of political opinion about electoral fraud.

            ‘So why did government make travel passes acceptable documentation for the elderly but not for other groups?’

            It didn’t. Any travel pass with a photo ID was acceptable. In Scotland, that included a Scottish National Entitlement Card issued for the purpose of concessionary travel to people who are 60+, people who experience disability, and people who are under 22.

            A whole raft of other photo IDs were also acceptable, including a PASS proof of age card for people who are 18+. And, on those rare instances when a voter didn’t have any photo ID or who wanted to vote anonymously, that voter could always obtain a Voter Authority Certificate or an Anonymous Elector’s Document.

            No one was excluded; anyone who was eligible and could be *rs*d was free to vote.

            ‘The evidence all points to this legislation being introduced not to reduce electoral fraud but to discourage electoral participation in groups least likely to vote Tory.’

            And what ‘evidence’ is that, John?

          32. 240714 says:

            Ignoring the silly name-calling,

            a) Parliamentary sovereignty is the principle that makes parliament the supreme legal authority in a jurisdiction, giving that authority the power to create or end any law. Generally, neither the courts nor the executive (in our case, the Crown) can overrule its legislation and no parliament can pass laws that future parliaments can’t change.

            b) Parliamentary privilege, on the other hand, is the principle that both elected and non-elected members of parliament should enjoy certain legal immunities, so that they can speak freely and perform their legislative duties without interference from the executive, and the allied principal that the parliament itself should regulate its own affairs.

          33. SleepingDog says:

            @Lord Parakeet the Cacophonist, such name calling is appropriately functional, not silly. People can simply search the Internet for “Lord Parakeet the Cacophonist” and “parliamentary privilege” to expose your previous stance which you hoped would remain hidden. This is much the reason that wrongdoers, charlatans, cheaters of infinite type in society are given names even if their identities remain otherwise obscured. Therefore your comments can be reintegrated by a simple counter-stratagem.

          34. 240714 says:

            What ‘previous stance’ is that, SD? I’ve always taken ‘parliamentary privilege’ to refer to the principle that both elected and non-elected members of parliament should enjoy certain legal immunities, so that they can speak freely and perform their legislative duties without interference from the executive, and together with the allied principal that the parliament itself should regulate its own affairs.

            Where have I previously said otherwise?

  7. Hugh McShane says:

    Depressing, but it’s where we are- YES msp’s need to highlight,regularly, the attempts by Labour to bypass Holyrood via Internal Markets Bill(punters largely unaware)on H2O,nuclear, + other areas where there is a settled Scottish view,capable of supporting civil disobedience.

  8. Alex McCulloch says:

    Are you so blind you cannot see”

    The so called YES movement is the biggest barrier to progressive change and achieving ndependence.

    It has demonised the SNP in the minds of those we seek to persuade, feeding the simultaneous SNP bad prpoganda of the media.

    Over 90 years the SNP has built uninterrupted growing support for Independence and in recent years introduced many policies that support people living in Scotland to a much greater degree than the other nations of the UK on almost every measure.

    Unfortunately groups of people have been unwilling and unable to contribute to the continued progress of the SNP , unable to accept ideas or views different to their own , unable to participate and influence within a successful movement.

    Instead they refer to a vague YES movement with no structure, no policies, no cohesion which almost uniquely communicates negative comments about the SNP ..go figure!

    If this commentariat elite cannot even influence the SNP, cannot collaborate for the common good, how are they going to persuade millions of our fellow citizens to participate in progressive change

    Join the SNP, change the SNP , build a New Scotland ( NSP!)

    1. Mr Kevan Shaw says:

      Maybe you are blind to the failure of the SNP since 2014? What was a truly Democratic Party with a leader intent on independence delivering policies to the benefit of the majority of Scots became a cabal of self interest demolishing internal democracy and demonising the former leader who actually delivered a referendum rather than talk about one but capitulating to Westminster!

      1. Alec Lomax says:

        Ach, there’s always Alba !

  9. 240709 says:

    ‘What’s needed is to locate the cause of independence within a wider framework of radical social change and building a movement that sustains and propels it.’

    That’s all very well, Mike; but that’s not going to happen.

    The idea, that the Scottish electorate will ‘rise’ to engage in civil unrest on such a scale as to make Scotland ‘ungovernable’, is delusional.

    The righteous have been trying and failing to radicalise the Scottish electorate and to build a movement that sustains and propels it for generations now. It’s just not going to happen.

    1. But change happens all over the world. Things change. You can’t just say things will never change here.

      1. 240709 says:

        Yep; things do change all the time. That’s history!

        But the idea that the Scottish electorate will ‘rise’ to engage in civil unrest on such a scale as to make Scotland ‘ungovernable’, and that ‘the Left’ can build a movement that will sustain and propel that ‘rising’, is delusional. There’s no reasonable prospect of that happening in the foreseeable future; it’s a vain and flimsy hope.

        1. Yes indeed, things change all the time – that’s history! But not here, nothing will change here ever. Gotcha.

          1. 240709 says:

            No; things change all the time here too. Scotland has changed beyond all recognition since I was a lad.

            But the idea that the Scottish electorate will ‘rise’ to engage in civil unrest on such a scale as to make Scotland ‘ungovernable’, and that ‘the Left’ can build a movement that will sustain and propel that ‘rising’, is still delusional.

          2. 240709 says:

            It assumes a scale and degree if immiseration that just doesn’t exist in Scotland.

            Middle Scotland is comfortably well-off: mortgage, car, free prescriptions, gym memberships, etc., etc. It’s got no reason to ‘rise’ and make Scotland ungovernable; even if it had a notion to, it’s got far to much to lose by upsetting the apple-cart. Especially if that sacrifice was made only to secure independence for the Scottish government.

            You might get a Lumpenproletarian mob to riot now and again, but the material conditions in contemporary Scotland are such that any movement you might build to sustain and propel a social revolution would be on a hiding to nothing.

            That might change. But it won’t be any time soon.

          3. Hugh McShane says:

            Sniff of de haut en bas there from our 6 digits friend! Comfy Scots?ungovernable future state? Wrong end of the telescope surely? Stripped of totally free access to what’s left to steal,represents the largest+nearest existential threat to the rump state that would be left- while it would be unwelcome,+ certainly uncomfortable to say the least, I fear its our larger overpopulated, resource-hungry neighbour that would be ungovernable!

          4. 240709 says:

            That’s all very well, Hugh (whatever it means); but your still going to have a job convincing the Scottish electorate to engage in civil unrest on such a scale as to make Scotland ‘ungovernable’, or even mobilising enough people to build a movement that could sustain and propel such a ‘rising’.

            This is fantasy politics. Delusional!

        2. MrVertigo says:

          The Scottish population becoming ungovernable is a comedic idea. They literally voted to be governed by foreigners.

          1. fred says:


            there’s that nasty underbelly again

            wheesht for Indy hasn’t stopped you has it

          2. 240713 says:

            ‘Foreigners’ = ‘Bastardin English’.

        1. MrVertigo says:

          Of course it’s delusional. The majority of folk in Scotland who just voted, voted for a comfortable status quo. The Scots are the most governable population on the planet. So much so that they’re quite happy to vote to be governed by another country’s leaders. Time after time.

          1. 240711 says:

            But the UK isn’t ‘another country’; it’s a polity of which Scotland (also a polity) is a constituent part.

            You’re making the same mistake the Brexiteers made when they argued that we should leave the EU (an even larger polity of which the UK was a constituent part) to regain our independence from a foreign power.

  10. John says:

    The first thing all people who support independence need to do is recognise that independence is still some way off and there is no quick, easy way to achieve it.
    The second thing they need to do is stop the bickering and infighting. This is separate from having an open and honest discussion about learning from past mistakes and planning how to go forward.
    I am afraid I find it difficult to envisage how SNP are not going to lose power in 2026 Holyrood elections. This is due to:
    1.incumbency during a period of difficult economic circumstances.
    2.self inflicted wounds due to internal party issues and individual issues.
    3.failure to be seen to prioritise the issues most important to majority of Scottish electorate ie health and education.
    4.policy failures- delivery of ferries, BDS etc
    5.preemptively breaking coalition agreement with Green Party.
    6.a rushed, divisive and badly flawed leadership campaign.
    A hostile Westminster government have not helped the functioning of governance but despite the words of SKS Labour have their eyes on 2026 election and are in no mood to let up.
    The hostile media are not going to go away so better messaging and less hostages to fortune are required to minimise their impact.
    The SNP need to try and show unity, competence and relevance between now and 2026 election to minimise the losses that will undoubtedly occur then. To that extent John Swinney has been asked to carry the party through until this point.
    Post 2026 the big reset will probably have to happen and while it will require the SNP as political wing of independence movement they will also require to understand that they are only a part (important nonetheless) of the movement.
    The basic overall strategy from whole movement has to be:
    1.explain to Scottish electorate how they will benefit from independence.
    2.come up with a viable, democratic route to show Scottish electorate how to achieve independence.
    3.when in power govern in such a manner that convinces the electorate of the case for self government.

  11. florian albert says:

    ‘It’s true that the Left and progressive forces are not in a strong position.’

    Why is this ? Plainly, it is not because people are content after 14 years of Tory rule. You regard it as ridiculous that people should place their hopes in the Labour Party. Is it not that voters see Labour as the best available alternative ? Certainly a better bet than ‘the Left and progressive forces.’

  12. SleepingDog says:

    Uhuh. Well, I’ve long been saying that party politics is corrupt and corrupting, that the SNP would become ever more corrupt as it circled power, and so on. This is the kind of insight that studying political science gives you (it is an empirically-evidence view). The best the SNP could have been was a launch vehicle aimed at Independence (against the political-gravitational forces of incorporation).

    We should be asking first-principle (political philosophy) questions. What is government for? And then move on to questions like: why should Scotland be Independent? This will lead us to a productive set of questions about the British state (which we will find is the British Empire) and its geopolitical position. Proceeding, we will discover potential allies, who also want to break up and/or escape from the British Empire.

    We need to keep looking outwards from Scotland, not always inwards as this article seems to recommend. If the break-up of the British Empire catches the Scottish Independence movement by surprise (see: events in politics), the result might be much worse for Scots (although that might be justice).

    Some political movements, like anarchism, are particularly good at criticising politics-as-usual, although they also tend to be bad at offering coherent alternatives at scale (UK anarchists still seem to be demanding the abolition of prisons and appear to be as trapped in groupthink as any party).

    We need to understand that culture wars have emerged because supporters of the British Empire (and other Empires) generally see their own Achilles’ heels more clearly than their opponents, and are attempting to disguise weakness as strength. The best strategy therefore will likely be to win the culture wars, not ignore them. Expose the contradictions, lies, moral abysses and flaws inherent in the ideologies that support Empire and ethnostates.

    Look to other European Empires, like the French, and what problems it has in keeping hold of its territories, and who is successful in challenging it. Learn about neocolonialism (the Wikipedia page has disgracefully little comment on the British, though). Look at the real plans of NATO, in holding the world in a ‘Balance of Terror’.
    Learn about how nuclear weapons and monarchy interrelate. Review the SNP’s position on NATO and the British monarchy.

    Think about the philosophy of the good life. How should we (humans, and non-humans) live on our planet, the only home for life we are yet aware of? Learn from other cultures about their ideas of the good life, remembering that as a nature-depleted realm we are planetary criminals by comparison.

    Look at how other nations are (or how sections of their populace attempting to) build their own notions of the good life into their own political Constitutions (and look at their methods, compare this with the British quasi-Constitution).

    Do what you need to awake, see the shadows in the cave for what they are, and progress upwards to the sunlight.

  13. Edward Cairney says:

    It’s all very simple and easy. If we carry on with our Groundhog Day, the future will hold nothing for us but increasing poverty, misery and a dread of waking up in the morning, a bit like having the toothache. Like the cure for toothache it might be a bit uncomfortable to do something about it but the total lack of pain, post dentist will more than make up for the fear.
    If the penny drops we’re in with a chance.
    If it doesn’t then we’ve had it.

  14. Colin Dunn says:

    “We need to become ungovernable.” very much echoes Craig Dalzell’s ‘Pleasure and Pain’ blog published in July 2020 and well worth a read.

  15. fred says:

    This piece illustrates just why the yes movement ran out of steam or was it hot air. You’re still rowing the boat but you’re only in a tiny wee pond.

    The independence obsession and wheeshting for indy has turned Scotland into a squalid backward facing slum. The electorate finally realised that the emperor had no clothes, and, had been dipping our pockets for 17 years in true snake oil salesman fashion. Well the hand was caught in the till.

    Indy was never going to happen because of the lack of talent and intelligence that it takes to be a nationalist. It’s a self serving hate politic, nowt more. You all abandoned people in need for your own vainglory.

    You can pretend all you like but there is nothing progressive about ethnic nationalism. Civic nationalism is a fallacy… a fraud built on racist foundations.

    1. Tom Ultuous says:

      “The independence obsession and wheeshting for indy has turned Scotland into a squalid backward facing slum.”

      Where did you read that? The Telegraph, Express, Mail & Sun? The Scottish govt have partial control over a lower deck on the UK Titanic. They do not steer the ship?

    2. Frank Mahann says:

      Aren’t we lucky the Union flag-shagging Sir Keir isn’t a nationalist !

      1. 240710 says:

        Yeah, well; at least we’re lucky he isn’t an *ethnic* nationalist. Nothing wrong with shagging the Union flag if it’s emblematic of civic rather than ethnic values.

        1. BSA says:

          The civic values of ‘The Sovereignty of the Crown in Parliament’. But you apparently think that’s just ceremonial because we have Universal Suffrage.

          1. 240711 says:

            Yep; the separation of powers and the making the executive power (the Crown) subject to both the legislative power (the parliament) and the judicial power (the law) is one of the civic values encapsulated in the so-called ‘Westminster system of government’, which is sometimes characterised in accordance with the 17th century Cromwellian formula as ‘the King-in-Parliament’.

    3. fred says:

      The above responses to my comment typify your hate based politic… keep digging, but I’d suggest pulling your head out of the sand before you get completely buried in your own hole… something many nationalists appear to have already achieved.

      I doubt there is any way back for the cause. People have woken up to the destruction you’ve left in your wake. I very much doubt you’ll ever be backs a credible movement.

      … but before you continue your. barking at the moon, I’ll leave you with the thoughts of George Orwell.

      “Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception…The smallest slur upon his own unit, or any implied praise of a rival organization, fills him with uneasiness which he can only relieve by making some sharp retort… it has a strong tinge of racialism. The Celt is supposed to be spiritually superior to the Saxon – simpler, more creative, less vulgar, less snobbish, etc. – but the usual power hunger is there under the surface. One symptom of it is the delusion that Eire, Scotland or even Wales could preserve its independence unaided and owes nothing to British protection… Moreover, although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge, the nationalist is often somewhat uninterested in what happens in the real world. What he wants is to feel that his own unit is getting the better of some other unit, and he can more easily do this by scoring off an adversary than by examining the facts to see whether they support him. All nationalist controversy is at the debating-society level. It is always entirely inconclusive, since each contestant invariably believes himself to have won the victory.”

      Meanwhile the Labour Party will pick up the shite you’ve left in your wake and clean up the mess as always.

      1. John says:

        Fred – Orwell was a great writer but having recently reread ‘Lion & The Unicorn’ I would have to say he was not above a bit of Anglo British nationalism.
        Re the old trope about all forms of nationalism being bad and divisive may I direct you to that well known divisive nationalist Nelson Mandela. He addresses the old all nationalism is bad viewpoint in ‘A Long Walk to Freedom’ pp 111 -112 which he was also confronted with. He deals with far more articulately than I can but basically says it is bandied about by larger countries or imperial powers to make smaller nations feel guilty and keep them in their place.
        I was glad that Labour turfed out the Tories from Westminster last week and have frequently voted Labour in the past. I do find aspects of Scottish Labour profoundly undemocratic especially their refusal to not only agree to Holyrood request for an independence referendum but even failing to state the criteria under which they would agree to one. This not only strikes me as being afraid of losing a referendum but makes a mockery of Anas Sarwar’s stance that it is up to the Scottish people to decide on independence.
        I think Labour may end up being the biggest party post 2026 as SNP have become tired, fractured and lacking in competence in recent years. I wait with baited breath to see which SNP policies they will roll back – higher tax band for high earners, free prescriptions, reinstate university tuition fees, any suggestions?
        I have recently lived in Wales and noticed how Labour administration blamed Westminster, sometimes with justification, for failing services. This option will not be available to any Labour administration at Holyrood.
        Lastly Fred, independence may not be a top priority for many voters in Scotland at present but 50% of electorate still support independence in principle (higher in younger voters). Any Labour administration is going to have to tread very carefully with Scottish electorate or they will turn on Labour and support and the demand for independence will reemerge louder and stronger than before.
        I would strongly suggest that if an incoming Labour administration in Scotland proceed with a tribal Labour (Bain Principle) mindset that you articulate then the Scottish electorate will soon turn against them.

        1. Hugh McShane says:

          Fine response to Fred’s very sour negativity- the dearth of talent in Nu- “Scottish” Labour is as bad as elsewhere- ĥow they finesse withdrawal of SNP goodies from a public used to them,+ start imposing Brit- needed policies on nuclear/water etc is going to be interesting!

          1. fred says:

            It’s the Labour Party Hugh. even here you can’t resist your anglophobic urges.

            There are no ‘SNP freebies”, they’re all paid for by the tax payer and their outcomes are frankly shite, which you’d know if you bothered to examine the facts.

            “Dogmatism and moral intimidation have turned this sectorialism and parochialism into a whiplash, one that silences all analyses that go beyond mere bumper-sticker slogans.” Murray Bookchin from “The Left That Was”

            nationalism is the antithesis of real democracy. “it’s oor oil”… nuff said.

        2. fred says:

          I don’t see where any off the rowing here is outside of the tiny nationalist pond. Nothing said has addressed the core fact the nationalism is a dead end, intellectually, morally and factually. I’ll repeat Orwell’s wise words as they illustrate the point perfectly.

          “What he wants is to feel that his own unit is getting the better of some other unit, and he can more easily do this by scoring off an adversary than by examining the facts to see whether they support him. All nationalist controversy is at the debating-society level. It is always entirely inconclusive, since each contestant invariably believes himself to have won the victory.””

          Your comments reflect the current corruption of left principles at a fundamental level., twisting the suit your idea of superiority over “others”

          Murray Bookchin nails it.

          “The Left today has withdrawn into a strident form of nationalism and statism, presumably in the interests of “national liberation”; an inchoate nihilism, presumably under the aegis of postmodernism; and an ethnic parochialism, presumably in the name of fighting racial discrimination. New versions of nationalism, a lack of concern for democracy, and a fragmenting sectorialism and parochialism abound. Dogmatism and moral intimidation have turned this sectorialism and parochialism into a whiplash, one that silences all analyses that go beyond mere bumper-sticker slogans.

          Too many careers and reputations are being made by many “leaders” in the present-day Left through shrill voices rather than clear insights. Their sloganeering has no content, and their verbiage offers little understanding of the fact that we are all ultimately one community of human beings, and that we can transcend the mere conditioned reflexes that undermine our commitment to mutual recognition and care for each other as well as the planet.”

          So keep digging your holes and preaching within the temple, and, as I said, the actual core left will clean up the mess.

          1. John says:

            Do you advance the same anti- independence argument to Irish independence in 1920’s, to all the Baltic nations in 1990’s, to Czech and Slovak republics etc etc?
            It is not for you or me to decide whether nation states exist as independent nations or parts of larger nation states it is ultimately up to the populace of these nation states themselves.
            It is called democracy.
            If Holyrood loses its majority for an independence referendum after 2026 election I and many others will accept that for the next 5 years there is no democratic case to hold one as I respect the wishes of Holyrood and therefore electorate in Scotland, regardless of whether I agree with them or not.
            My argument with Scottish and UK Labour is that it doesn’t respect wishes of electorate of Holyrood and therefore electorate in Scotland. It is that simple. Funny enough the recently retired Labour first minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford, agrees.
            Your all nationalism is evil is just a trope dragged out to muddy a pretty simple democratic issue.

          2. Mr Kevan Shaw says:

            By your argument there is currently a mandate in Scotland for a referendum and this should be carried out within the lifetime of this mandate. You cannot play the ball forward to potential outcome of a 2026 election that is clearly offside!

          3. fred says:

            Hi John, thanks for your comments. The SP is a regional assembly designed too devolve powers more locally. It was misconceived and poorly delivered and I did not vote for it.

            To answer you directly re: independence. No I do not believe it is a legitimate aim. Scotland is an integral part of the UK and has been since the birth of the industrial revolution. Every UK citizen has contributed towards the 1st world society that we inhabit and every UK citizen has an equal right to live, work, and vote here if they so choose. I lived in London for years, my son lives there, my sister lives there, more than half of my relatives are English or Welsh. Scottish nationalism seeks to and has continually sought to deny those citizens their democratic rights in this part of the country.

            If you come from Truro you have every right to relocate to Thurso etc

            Independence is a race based straw man, for me it is appalling gerrymandering nothing more. Furthermore it has woven hatred and false grievance into the very fabric of our communities.

          4. “Independence is a race based straw man.”

            This is just objectively not true and deeply insulting.

            You’ll remember that the referendum was based on residency not ethnicity?

            Argue away but if you spread disinformation you’ll be removed.

          5. John says:

            Fred – if you don’t even consider independence for Scotland a legitimate aim there is no point in further discussion.
            You are damned by your own undemocratic words.
            I too have lived in work in England and Wales and have relatives and friends there. Whether Scotland is independent or not will not alter these valued relationships in any way.
            I do not know whether you still live in Scotland but if you do your voice is as equal as any other in deciding whether Scotland should become an independent nation like any other modern country. It is a freedom to decide Scotland’s own future you appear so keen to deny others which says everything about you and your arrogant attitudes to your fellow countrymen.

        3. Fred says:

          Thanks for your more nuanced approach John, but fundamentally you appear to have failed to understand my point because you continue to frame it in essentially ethnic terms through the nationalist lens and it’s associated “bumper sticker” crib sheet.

          It’s utterly ludicrous to conflate the struggle of South Africans with Scottish Nationalism.

          1. John says:

            Fred – see my reply above. Did you actually read the words of Nelson Mandela- obviously the situation in South Africa and Scotland are different but the premise he discussed in response to all nationalism being wrong is still relevant to smaller nation states trying to gain independence.
            The bumper sticker mentality’s are yesterdays equivalent of the slogans used by all parties eg
            MAGA, Get Brexit Done, Stop the Boats and Change. All political parties use them because, unfortunately, they appear to have some traction.

          2. SleepingDog says:

            @John, yes, your points are particularly relevant in the context of the Age of Empires and the foundation of the United Nations, which has broadly supported the freedom of peoples to break away from empires
            and to “develop friendly relations among nations” as in its Charter.

            The role of the British Labour party in government has not been a history of supporting (unforced) decolonisation, with a few exceptions.

            Nationalism need not be the final state of breaking away from imperialism, but it seems like progress to me and many others. It will be interesting to see what new Foreign Secretary David Lammy says on completing the process of British decolonisation.

          3. Fred says:

            John, you shamelessly quoted Mandela, and having just read those pages you referenced, there is no conflation in his comments that I can square, with your glib defence of nationalism. But, that is perhaps not surprising given your defence of bumper sticker thinking.

            Pan African nationalism, which represents the ideological struggle of all Africans of all nations world-wide, against the colonial exploitation and repression that fragmented the African Diaspora, bears no resemblance to the many forms of predominantly white European imperialist nationalism that we are discussing here, it very much represents the opposite.

          4. fred says:

            furthermore, the idea that Scotland is in any way, now or historically, a “colony” is risible nonsense.

            In 2015 the snp got 4.7% of the uk vote which was 50% of the Scottish vote on a 70% turnout. They returned 56 seats representing 8.4% of the seats in the uk and 94% of the Scottish share.

            some colony

          5. fred says:

            It’s really quite telling hearing all this talk of democracy, straight off the back of 13 years of nationalist power grabs, centralisation, privatisation, mismanagement, cronyism, and their Stalinist (see Jim Sillars) oppression of political discourse, that we have suffered under the SNP and all of you who were perfectly happy to wheesht for Indy.

            I’m off to bed now but I’ll leave you with some more of Bookchin’s thoughts.

            “…But for those who call themselves leftists, there should be a clear understanding that the use of the term Left involves the acceptance of the fundamental principles that literally define and justify the use of the word. This means that certain ideas like nationalism, parochialism, authoritarianism–and certainly, for anarchists of all kinds, any commitment to a nation-state–and symbols like the broken rifle of pacifism are totally alien to the principles that define the Left. Such ideas, introduced into politics, have no place in any politics that can authentically be characterized as leftist.”

          6. 240711 says:

            ‘…the idea that Scotland is in any way, now or historically, a “colony” is risible nonsense.’

            I’m with you there, Fred. Famously, colonies are communities that suffer taxation without representation. Scots enjoy the same representation in the UK parliament that ‘the bastardin English’ do.

          7. 240711 says:

            I also like yoour quote from Murray Bookchin. Here’s one of my favourites, from ‘Nationalism and the “National Question”‘ (1993):

            ‘But throughout this century, when “Third World” national liberation movements in colonial countries have made conventional avowals of socialism and then proceeded to establish highly centralized, often brutally authoritarian states, the Left often greeted them as effective struggles against imperialist enemies. Advanced as “national liberation,” nationalism has often stopped short of advancing major social changes and even ignored the need to do so. Avowals of authoritarian forms of socialism have been used by “national liberation” movements very much the way Stalin used socialist ideologies to brutally consolidate his own dictatorship. Indeed, Marxism-Leninism has proved a remarkably effective doctrine for mobilizing “national liberation” struggles against imperialist powers and gaining the support of leftist radicals abroad, who saw “national liberation” movements as largely anti-imperialist struggles rather than observing their true social content.

            ‘Thus, despite the populist and often even anarchistic tendencies that gave rise to the European and American New Left, its essentially international focus was directed increasingly toward an uncritical support for “national liberation” struggles outside the Euro-American sphere, without regard for where these struggles were leading and the authoritarian nature of their leadership.’

          8. John says:

            Fred – it has been an interesting discussion.
            I have moved from being against independence to being in favour since 2016.
            Even when I was opposed to independence I always considered it a perfectly legitimate aim. From your posts I am not sure if you think independence is even a legitimate aim?
            I accepted post 2014 referendum that majority of voters rejected independence and that Scotland should remain part of UK. This doesn’t mean that those who support independence should just shut up and stop supporting the independence cause as some unionists seem to imply.
            Scotland is not a colony but if Westminster insists that if when Holyrood has a majority (voted in by electorate in Scotland under PR) for an independence referendum and requests a referendum it can be blocked by Westminster (voted in by 90% of electorate outside Scotland) then Scotland is also not a respected democracy.

      2. Tom Ultuous says:

        “One symptom of it is the delusion that Eire, Scotland or even Wales could preserve its independence unaided and owes nothing to British protection”.

        Feb 2023
        Ireland’s national debt now stands at 44,000 euro per person in the country.
        UK’s national debt now stands at 50,279 euro per person in the country (lookup nationaldebtclock).
        The poorest Irish have a standard of living almost 63% higher than the poorest in the UK. (Financial Times).
        Consider the wealth of natural resources Scotland has compared to Ireland. Oil, massive wind/wave energy potential and whisky.
        Question: So how come the Irish are much better off than the Scots?
        Answer: They’re not a colony of the UK.
        All of the above is easily checked with single line browser searches yet the collaborators in Scotland refuse to believe anything that does not emanate from their colonial masters.
        Note, the ROI is just an example. The average French & German household was around 9K a year better off than its UK equivalent pre-COVID (Financial Times) and that will be more like 12K now. Since the Tories took over, the UK is worse off compared to any EU country. Look up ‘theatlantic – How the U.K. Became One of the Poorest Countries in Western Europe’.

        1. fred says:

          Ah the old Eire straw man enters the fray. We could play statistics bingo if you like but comparing apples and oranges isn’t really my cuppa tea.

          That would be the ROI that was bailed out by the uk in 2008.

          The same Ireland that is protected by UK armed forces and where you really don’t want to get sick when you retire.

          Public, private or universal health insurance: essentially a universal, public system, but many people do have to pay fees for each visit to a doctor or hospital. There are also private options.
          Population % covered by health insurance: 100% have state coverage but it’s only fully free for around 37%. Private insurance is chosen by around 40%.
          Average cost of an emergency room visit: a flat fee of €100 (about £91 / US$117 / AU$148), unless you have a referral from your doctor, in which case it’s free.
          Average cost of a doctor’s visit: around €50 (about £45 / US$59 / AU$74).
          Average cost of private health insurance for 1 person: €1,925 (£1,754 / US$2,260 / AU$2,864).

          1. Tom Ultuous says:

            Ah, the old “ROI was bailed out by the UK in 2008” straw man. Like all union jack wavers you’re living in the past. So what if they pay something towards health? Do we not, particularly now when the NHS is all the Tories have left to plunder? Maybe the Financial Times took that into account with their figures in any case.
            Your “we’re all in this together” arguments are like arguing we should all go down with the English steered Titanic because it’s the “Jolly decent thing to do. We went through two World wars together.” Sure, lets all let the right-wing press barons, think tanks and Eton ponces stuff it right up us for evermore to show solidarity with the clowns who empower them.
            What would we be without the English ruling classes, eh? Norway maybe?

          2. Fred says:

            Tom, if you want a reasonable discussion with anyone you should cut out the jaded nationalist ad hominems. I’ve never waved a union flag in my life.

            Perhaps you don’t know what a straw man is but the UK bailed Ireland and its banks out, that’s just a simple fact.

            However your nasty entrenched anglophobia is absolutely pishing out of you as are your right wing politics. If you want to pay for health care feel free to do so, that;’s your choice. Put your money where your mouth is and make a contribution to reducing the number of people dying on SNP waiting lists.

          3. Tom Ultuous says:

            As was it a fact that ROI are in less debt etc. and doing better than your beloved UK despite having half their land stolen from them and having to fight a war to gain their freedom. Your union jack waving and right-wing politics are oozing out of every pore Tory boy.

            It’s not me crying out for private health. It’s those who want to remain tied to a colonial master that’s already 60% down that road. Were I giving to charity would I not be better donating it to the English NHS? After all England has (per capita) NHS waiting lists 25% longer, 30% less full time GPs, double the waiting time on calls to NHS24, charity dental vans, 1.6 hospital beds less per 1,000 of population, paid for prescriptions and poorer NHS pay. The list is endless.

      3. BSA says:

        A quite deranged view throughout from you, of an independence movement which is actually too decent and respectable for its own good.

        1. John says:

          BSA – I have met a few Fred’s in my time who look down their noses at anyone who wants self determination.
          I had a tendency to be like Fred when I was younger because I was in awe of a friend who was a dogmatic internationalist and socialist.
          I then started evaluating all the evidence of my own eyes, rather than dogmatic doctrine, and I realised that the Fred’s of this world are patronising political snobs who never question their own beliefs but to avoid doing so have to try and put down anyone with a contrary argument.

          1. BSA says:

            Their central position in the Universe allows them a 360 degree field of fire for their contempt, indiscriminately mowing down anyone ‘who fails to understand’ something which is never identified. It’s the very definition of a crank.

          2. John says:

            BSA – Fred is not alone on this site with this outlook.
            At the risk of being overly simplistic there are people:
            1. Those people who observe the world around them and then read political doctrines to try and help them make sense of what they observe.
            2.People who read political doctrines and then try to adjust what they observe to fit in with the doctrines they have read.

            I leave you to judge which camp Fred falls into.

          3. Hugh McShane says:

            Let’s keep it simple- Fred’s a Neanderthal arschloch who has swallowed a thesaurus…

          4. fred says:

            and you all wonder why you are rejected by any c*nt with a braincell… absolutely zero counter discussion from any of you just endless racist tropes that y’all share around your angry spittle drenched flegger meets … reverting to type and the pack mentality, attacking the man not the ball. Freedumb indeed.

            nationalism a sport for brain dead racists, it’s like an EDL meeting in here … enjoy the dustbin of history .

        2. fred says:

          really is it aye… this is who you are. You still think folk can’t see you have no clothes on.

          1. 240713 says:

            Yep; scratch the surface and you’ll find the same old ugly ethnic nationalism festering underneath.

          2. Niemand says:

            I assume it is supposed to be a joke but it is pretty crass. As is the likes of MrVertigo above going on about ‘foreigners’ meaning the English.

            I think you exaggerate the ethnic nationalist element but I also think it is dismissed too easily as a small rump of the movement. Since 2014 it has certainly grown and there are now at least two well-known blogs that are openly ethnic nationalist-based and completely committed to the Scotland as colony narrative, both relentlessly pushed by the likes of Alf Baird one, in its editorial policy and comments, the other in the comments only (but 90% of them). What is noticeable is that though the focus of the ethnic nationalism is primarily anti-English it is also often extends further and there is a general anti-immigration stance.

            Bella has always been different to that tbf and holds the civic line (Baird is I believe banned), at least ‘above the line’.

          3. 240714 says:

            Indeed, Bella does hold the civic line (though it does tend to highlight ‘native’ cultural issues more than ‘non-native’ cultural issues in its articles), and more power to its elbow for doing so.

  16. Paddy Farrington says:

    The political parties within the movement are deeply split. Egotistic personalities within it fuel division and exchange insults on a daily basis. The mainstream media engage in an endless onslaught against it. The centrist political party in power in the old imperial capital has successfully sidelined it. Divided, the movement is going nowhere. All eyes are now on the far right, which is on the rise.

    Sounds familiar? No, it’s not the independence movement. It’s the left in France, just a few weeks ago. Look at it now. Things can change, fast, and new opportunities can arise. The trick is to be ready to seize them when they do. For that we must prepare.

    I don’t agree with the ‘ungovernable’ bit though. What we need is resistance to the status quo, at all levels, and to show that an alternative really does exist.

  17. Colin Simpson says:

    I find it interesting that as far as I can see no one is talking about our Liberation movement, Salvo and Liberation. Scot and taking our Claim of Right to the international courts.
    Some will say how could that work, you need to know that was how Holyrood came into being. The Scottish convention took out case to the European courts, the result was that Tony Blair had to give all the home nations a parliament. Of course as soon as it was a reality Blair took all the powers away through the Smith Commission. Devolution set up to fail.
    Salvo is a campaigning arm not party aligned. If you are interested look up Sara Salyers on YouTube.
    Most countries get their independence through a liberation movement.

    1. Why is there not more interest Colin?

      Links welcome.

  18. Gordon Bickerton says:

    The feeling I have re indy and SNP is that the focus on governing well is a tall order with the restrictions of a devolved Parliament.
    I’m very much in favour of a National Yes organisation with the input & guidance of Business for Scotland and other similar organisations.

    1. John says:

      The independence version of the Scottish Constitutional Convention of 1980’s & 90’s?

  19. Satan says:

    Is independence possible without it being a lot more popular is a more pertinent question.

    As for the SNP – they are toxic. Why would I vote for a party that cuts the affordable housing budget by £200 million then declares a ‘housing emergency’ a couple of months later? And even getting yet another referendum would involve a toxic party of self-entitlement and/or a popular movement that actually existed outwith the more boring reaches of social media. Good luck with that.

    I would say that the Scottish independence cause has become dull and stale, and is overpopulated with people who aren’t interested in changes in the here and now, with independence probably not making any difference to that.

    1. fred says:

      excellent post

  20. John says:

    Brilliant article Mike. A need for a peoples movement pan political and free of the lobotomy of party sectarianism. Like so many hoping for a better country, untethered from a British state that is driven by an egregious system of government for the wealthy by the wealthy and mind controlled by a malignancy of right wing press barons (increasingly shrill, populist and dangerous) propping up this Tory ponzi scheme we call Britain. i can only hope for a radical people based movement to offer hope. Hope for all the people of this much put upon island of ours. I weep for all its peoples. We can only change by example and we cant change Englands propensity for electing Tory Government’s that we in Scotland never vote for. They also need to come to believe in a better future. Interesting times. Thank you for a willingness to think beyond tbe boundaries of our failing politics. An endless groundhog day of the failure to offer people a just society free of the controlling suffering of greed, misaligned power and dishonesty.

  21. Alec Lomax says:

    Is Independence possible without the SNP?

  22. John Monro says:

    I comment here occasionally, but live 12,000 miles away in NZ. I have an abiding love of the land and people of Scotland, that keeps me interested in what is happening in your country and the UK. I am so sorry to see how the UK is slipping into a sort of torrid zone where no progress is being made and your supplies and sustenance are dwindling – a sort of political and cultural Ancient Mariner.

    Anyway, surely the first thing anyone in Scotland needs to do before getting independence is get a constitution? Do you have one, if not, why not? Why has Scotland and the SNP wasted all those years? I find a URL pointing to developing a constitution yet not published until 19th June 2023!! What on Alba’s stormy shores has Scotland been doing in the interim? Such a constitution needs to be developed as if there’s nothing strange or radical about it. In universities, political bodies, citizen discussion – make it Scotland’s goal to have a fully formed constitution in five years. Probably Labour and Tory will refuse to get involved, but when they see that the rest of the population are getting on with it, perhaps they’ll change their minds.

    The constitution would include currency, armed forces, overseas relationships, border issues, etc etc.

    How can you sensibly ask any sane Scot to vote on Independence until they know what they’re voting for?

    1. 240710 says:

      ‘…the UK is slipping into a sort of torrid zone where no progress is being made and your supplies and sustenance are dwindling – a sort of political and cultural Ancient Mariner.’

      I think that’s rather exaggerating the case. Such catastrophising hyperbole just makes the case for independence look ridiculous.

      ‘How can you sensibly ask any sane Scot to vote on Independence until they know what they’re voting for?’

      I’ve been saying this ad nauseam for the past ten years, ever since we were asked to buy a pig in a poke in the Great Pseudorendum.

      The vague suggestion is that we first secure independence and then work out the detail of what that independence will look like, as if we would have any say in the matter once the deed was done. I’ve long been an advocate for instead:

      1. the present Scottish government organising a National Assembly of 1500 people, 1200 of which it would choose at random from the electoral role and 300 nominated by chosen as representatives of civil society (i.e. the dense network of groups, communities, networks, and ties that stand between the individual and the state – groups like CBI Scotland, the STUC, faith groups, voluntary organisations, sporting and cultural associations) to discuss and determine the core values (e.g. equality, human rights, democracy, honesty, justice, respect, freedom and responsibility) on which the governance of Scotland should proceed, followed by:

      2. a Constitutional Assembly of 950 citizens, randomly selected to reflect Scotland’s demographic and geographic make-up, to draft a constitution based on the opinions generated by the National Assembly. This constitution would:

      a) define the organisation of the legislative and executive branches of government and the limits of their powers;
      b) define the role and position of the Head of State;
      c) affirm the independence of the judiciary and its supervision of other holders of governmental powers;
      d) decide electoral districts and the voting systems that will be used in various elections;
      e) provide for direct public participation in government decision-making processes;
      f) lay down the conditions for the transfer of sovereign powers to international organisations like the UK, EU, NATO, etc. in the conduct of foreign affairs;
      g) establish the common ownership and utilisation of our natural resources.

      This constitution, arrived at as an expression of the general will of Scottish society, could then be presented in a referendum as exactly what you’d be voting for and exactly what you’d get if you vote ‘Yes!’ for independence. Collectively deciding what ‘independence’ will mean before the event infinitely more preferable to some vague promise that we’ll get to decide what it will look like after the event (when the whole matter will already have been done and dusted anyway).

      1. John Learmonth says:

        Most people worldwide (not just in Scotland) aren’t interested in ‘politics’.
        They just want to be left in peace to get on with their lives.
        I long for a party who promise to do nothing……and leave it to genuine non-political people to sort out their affairs on a localised basis. How local that should be is the question?
        I was sick of been told what to do by Brussels/London/Edinburgh, whether I’d be happy to be told what to do by Fife Council… but at least I could go knock on their door and ask……hopefully!

        1. 240710 says:

          I’d go along with that, John. Central authority should have only a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which can’t be performed at a more local level.

        2. SleepingDog says:

          @John Learmonth, so… most people round the world are ‘non-political’ but want peace, freedom, local autonomy, the health to live independently, access to government… you really don’t know what politics is, do you?

          Here’s a simple definition: politics is how we arrange to live in groups large enough to include strangers.

          1. John Learmonth says:

            I didn’t say the people wanted any of those things, I just merely stated that most people wanted to be left alone to get on with their own lives.

          2. SleepingDog says:

            @John Learmonth, you really did, whether you realise it or not. Either way, you must entirely agree with my sound criticisms of the polyvicious British Empire which was predicated on the destruction of the norm that “people wanted to be left alone to get on with their own lives”.

            Political philosophy has a term for groups of people large enough to contain strangers: a polity. The Wikipedia definition seems reasonable:
            “A polity is a group of people with a collective identity, who are organized by some form of political institutionalized social relations, and have a capacity to mobilize resources.”

          3. John says:

            SD –
            JL is a Tory
            Tories took a hammering last week.
            JL disparages all politicians and politics.
            Quelle surprise!

          4. 240710 says:

            Alternatively, politics (from Ancient Greek πολιτικά (politiká) ‘affairs of the cities’) is the set of activities that are associated with making collective public decisions, such as those concerning the distribution of resources or status.

          5. 240710 says:

            “A polity is a group of people with a collective identity, who are organized by some form of political institutionalized social relations, and have a capacity to mobilize resources.”

            Where does the capacity to ‘contain strangers’ come into this? Indeed, *can* a group of people with a collective identity – a ‘polity’ – contain ‘strangers’, given that the people who constitute this group have this shared identity (i.e. aren’t strangers)?

            If you want the capacity to contain strangers to be a defining characteristic of a polity, then you’re going to have to add that to Wikipedia’s definition.

          6. 240710 says:

            ‘A polity is a group of people with a collective identity, who are organized by some form of political institutionalized social relations, and have a capacity to mobilize resources.’

            Where does the capacity to ‘contain strangers’ come into this? Indeed, *can* a group of people with a collective identity – a ‘polity’ – contain ‘strangers’, given that the people who constitute this group have this shared identity (i.e. aren’t strangers)?

            If you want the capacity to contain strangers to be a defining characteristic of a polity, then you’re going to have to add that to Wikipedia’s definition.

    2. John says:

      Wise words John – sometimes distance can lend perspective.
      I keep thinking back to the Scottish Constitutional Convention set up post 1979 referendum that undertook a lot of the hard work in advance of 1997 referendum. This would also provide a forum for all sections of independence movement to talk to each other and allow those organisations curious about or opposed to independence to discuss their reservations.

  23. Niemand says:

    ‘Well I don’t think a relentless assault on the SNP is really productive . . .’

    I agree. But a relentelss, irrational assualt on all things Labour is fine?

    ‘. . . nor do I think that descending into the culture wars narrative is either’.

    Again, I agree but there is a crucial distinction between the ‘narrative’ (deliberately divisive, which side of the fence are you on point scoring) and the actual wars (important cultural arguments that matter to people). Many of the writers on this site are cultural warriors fighting for what they see as the good fight on a regular basis. But one or two of them adopt the narrative approach as well and have no qualms about finger pointing from the pulpit of empty self-righteousness.

    1. 240710 says:

      Well said, Niemand! Couldn’t agree more.

    2. John says:

      Niemand – nobody is forcing you to read the articles on this website.
      Many of the articles and comments in the Daily Mail tend to irritate me so I long ago decided to ignore that publication for the sake of my mental health.

      1. Niemand says:

        I cannot disagree John. It would be a shame to stop reading though as there is still much to be praised and I support independence. I don’t read the site like I might one I intrinsically disagree with where yes, it becomes a pointless exercise quite quickly.

        The interesting thing is that Labour and the SNP are on a very similar page poltically, except for their opposing nationalisms.

        1. John says:

          I will sign off by saying I agree completely and by wishing you goodnight.

  24. Mike Parr says:

    “Is Independence Possible without the SNP”? Is this even the right question?
    Some realities (these are NOT points of view). Most small and medium sized communities in Scotland (5 through to 5000) could have their own local, community energy systems that would cover both electricity AND heat. Scotland has the largest off-shore (and on-shore) wind resource in Europe. It could POWER the EU. What is missing from this is organisation. The SNP, in common with so many political orgs knows everything about staying in power and nothing about using power to make a difference. Get rid of the “I only know politics” idiots and find people that can organise and deliver. Then take independence because the English won’t give it – & I speak as an Englishman. Those that want to hear more about the modalities of the first part of this rant – you know where to find me.

  25. John O'Dowd says:

    Very perceptive and broadly correct. The surprising thing would be if we were surprised. The British political system – pseudo ‘democratic’ appendages bolted on to a feudal remnant – has been well and truly anatomised by the likes of Tom Nairn.

    It is designed precisely to prevent change and to cement the ruling classes into the ragged fabric of a decaying state.

    There is no more a ‘parliamentary road’ to independence than there is a ‘parliamentary road to socialism. A century of Labourism has taught us that, if nothing else.

    So well said Mike.

  26. David Duncan says:

    An impressive piece true, but where’s the solution, yes we Nationalists are tired of the same old same old but we’re also informed perhaps incorrectly that we need gravitas in political change, that simply isn’t there and hasn’t been since the farcical result of the September 18th independence referendum, despite evidence of electoral frauds carried out and subsequently ignored on the night and next day. There has to be a political leader, there had to be an independence party and there has to be an argument for independence and what is at stake without it, we need security of our elected politicians who will be pressurised by the State or else and we need international monitors from day one of the event horizon, secure that and give Scots their chance to know the risk of aggression from a potentially bankrupted State and decide on salient fact, is it worth it !

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