A corrosive vendetta

Let us reflect for a moment on what Jim Sillars is actually proposing here, before considering what motivates him and the thinking – if that is the appropriate term – behind his increasingly vitriolic attacks on the SNP leadership and the Scottish Government.

The “Big Idea” advanced by Jim Sillars is that, despite having voted unequivocally and decisively to remain part of the European Union, the people of Scotland (and Northern Ireland) should meekly accept their democratic will being overruled by voters in England (and Wales). No justification is offered for this outlandish demand other than that the UK-wide Brexit vote better serves the virulent anti-EU agenda long pursued by Sillars. The will of the people of Scotland, it appears, is as nothing to this isolationist imperative.

Were we to follow the advice offered by Jim Sillars, we would bide our wheesht whilst waiting to see what arrangements are finally settled upon in negotiations between a far-right Tory government in London determined, among other unsavoury things, to keep Scotland bound to the British state; and a European Union which, according to Sillars, is every bit as contemptuously disdainful of Scotland’s interests as the ultra-conservative Westminster regime that he has helped usher into power and to which he would require us to submit without demur.

The hope, which we are supposed to share, is that this process will somehow lead to an outcome that is favourable to Scotland. Quite how this might happen is, shall we say, not immediately obvious. It would be far from clear how Scotland might hope to gain from plans devised by and for the ruling elites of the British state even if such plans existed. In the light of the directionless catastrophuck into which the entire British establishment has descended since the EU referendum result was announced, the notion that some good for Scotland might emerge if we just sit back and let things run their imponderably erratic course is nothing short of irrational.

And while we are sheepishly putting our faith in the intentions and talents of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith et all, Jim Sillars wants us to dismiss, reject and oppose the efforts of our First Minister and the Scottish Government that we only recently elected. He wants us to shun the only people who look like they know what they’re doing in favour of a bunch of evident cretins who have actually admitted that they have no plan and have made no preparations for the very thing they were campaigning to bring about.

No! I don’t get it either.

Why is Sillars doing this? What is it that drives him? There was a time when we could be sure that it was a passion for independence and progressive politics. How are we to believe that now? Everything Sillars says these days seems to be about insisting that the SNP leadership is wrong. No matter how much success the party enjoys, they’re doing it all wrong. No matter that the SNP has, with a mandate from the people of Scotland, brought us closer to independence than most of us thought possible in our lifetimes, they’re doing it all wrong. No matter that approaching a decade of SNP administration has seen Scotland survive all manner of political and economic turmoil and come out of the other side in fair condition, they’re doing it all wrong.

I swear that, while the rest of us are celebrating Scotland’s Independence Day, Sillars will be skulking in his lair writing a book about how the SNP did it all wrong!

When was the last time Sillars was right about anything? He’s wrong about key points in his latest dismal missive. Quite apart form the obvious insanity of his “Big Idea”, he is wrong when he says that the SNP losing its majority rules out a second independence referendum. He is wrong because it is not a government majority that is required in order to pass the necessary legislation, but a parliamentary majority. And there was a clear pro-independence parliamentary majority at Holyrood even before the events of the past few days served to focus the minds and prod the consciences of those MSPs in the British parties who are not totally wedded to a rigid British nationalist ideology.

He is wrong when he says that the SNP administration lacks a mandate because it supposedly failed to ask for on in its 2016 election manifesto. He is wrong on two counts. Firstly, he is wrong because the SNP did ask for a mandate. That the mandate was conditional matters vanishingly little. And not at all when the stipulated conditions actually come about. And he is wrong because the SNP ALWAYS has a mandate to pursue independence by all lawful democratic means. People may vote for SNP candidates for a variety of reasons. But nobody can sensibly claim to be unaware that the party is unequivocally and unconditionally committed to securing the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status.

And he is at least disingenuous when he refers to there being no possibility of an “early second independence referendum”. The word “early” is conveniently open. In reality, nobody is proposing an “early” referendum. No specific timetable has been set out. No authoritative commentator has envisaged a second independence referendum before late 2018 – fully four years after the first one. Although circumstances now may necessitate bringing that date forward, there is no sense in which it could be “early”. It will happen when the people of Scotland and their democratically elected government consider it timely.

Given all of this, it is hard to see why anybody should pay the slightest heed to Jim Sillars. A man who, whatever his pedigree in the independence movement of the past, has clearly subordinated the campaign to bring Scotland’s government home to a personal vendetta against the current SNP leadership.

We cannot expect that Sillars will shut up. We have no reason to suppose that he will abandon this corrosive vendetta. There is little reason to anticipate that his arguments will do anything other than continue to deteriorate. The best we might hope for is that people learn to ignore his increasingly irrational outbursts. Politely, if possible.

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8 thoughts on “A corrosive vendetta

  1. Stewart

    Jim has been acidic in his thoughts ever since has been downgraded within the SNP movement. He is regarded as much old guard establishment as any former, and here I stress the word FORMER, leader, FM or PM. A new sheriff is in town and the old possie have been replaced. This happens and as it does it creates a natural cycle of life, born, work, retire and die. Jim is like a dying star in some far flung galaxy, he once shone bright but now his power has diminished we are just waiting for the final thrones of his explosive super nova or his complete collapse into a black hole, either way it happens it is best not to be too close, best to move to a safe distance, put your feet up with a nice cup of tea and watch the finale.

  2. June Maxwell

    Very sad. I even wonder if a degree of senility has set in. But undoubtedly irrational behaviour from someone I once admired.

  3. David Cornelius

    Absolutely right, Peter. I heard Sillars speak during the Scottish Referendum and quickly saw that he was a maverick spouting all sorts of unhelpful rubbish. He is like the Gordon Brown of the SNP: talks crap.

  4. Ian Clark

    You are surely correct when you point out that Jim Sillars is wrong about the SNP government needing a majority of SNP MSPs and also wrong about it not having a mandate to pursue independence.

    However, I would like to challenge a couple of points you make.

    Firstly, he has not helped ‘usher into power’ an ultra-conservative Westminster regime. Not yet anyway. Things might change (but I’m not holding my breath).

    Secondly, and more importantly, your assertion that Jim Sillars says that people should just accept their DEMOCRATIC will being overruled and that he provides no justification is simply wrong. In his article in ‘The National’, he correctly points out that Scotland was not mentioned on the ballot paper. This was a UK wide referendum. The democratic will of the British people was to leave the EU. The best you can say is that roughly 62% of the people in Scotland who voted (or roughly just over 40% of the adult population) may be taken out against their individual wills.

    The suggestion I have heard from SNP politicians that the result of the referendum is ‘democratically unacceptable’ seems to be nonsense. There have been plausible claims of lying on the part of the Leave side (but they were challenged in the media). No one is seriously claiming that there was vote rigging, intimidation etc. People might not like it (or conversely like it a lot in terms of increasing the chances of Scottish independence), but democratically it was more than acceptable.

    Perhaps the unacceptability lies in the implied promises made about EU membership at the time of the Scottish referendum. Certainly there’s a strong case to be made that our referendum was less democratically acceptable than last week’s one, but it was acceptable. There were considerable Project Fear attempts to muddy the waters over EU membership, but I don’t think anyone on the Better Together side believed it likely that there would be an EU referendum and that last Thursday’s outcome would occur. So, unless someone can enlighten me otherwise, I don’t see any justification for saying the ‘Brexit’ result was democratically unacceptable.

    I understand the desire to create a memorable phrase (e.g. ‘dragged out against our will’), but politicians should be careful in their use of language. I think Patrick Harvey ridiculously used the word ‘outrage’ in reference to the situation we find ourselves in.

    Instead of using the term ‘democratically unacceptable’, all the SNP has to do is point to its manifesto and the phrase ‘material change in the circumstances’. It’s an even less snappy phrase, but it has substance behind it. Its inclusion in the manifesto provides sufficient reason – along with decent opinion polls – to justify another referendum when appropriate.

    Finally, and sadly since I like Jim Sillars – it does appear that he is driven by a strong desire to denigrate the actions of the SNP leadership.

  5. David MacGille-Mhuire

    Not sure what the nub of your argument is; so, forgive me.

    That said, I have never trusted Mr Sillars, and have always regarded him as a rank, narcissistic opportunist who established the long defunct SLP not out of principle but as a vehicle for his ego and imagined route to power for himself.

    His late lamented wife put the hems to some extent, but he seems to have regressed to full-throated type since her sad demise.

    I suspect, and always have and like my former comrade – Matthew Lygate, that this gentleman may well be intimately involved with the more shadowy elements of the imploding British state despite his earlier posing to the contrary and in tandem with his more recent outbursts which seem to reflect this imminent implosion and the consequent panic of the parasite elements like the self-same “Comrade” Sillars.

    With Messrs Mundell, Carmichael, and Murray, one gets what one sees on the Unionist tin; but with Mr Sillars, one is faced with a far more serpentine individual.

    I do not and have never trusted him since the Scottish Labour Party debacle just as I do not trust certain current elements battening onto Scotland’s historic struggle in his wake.

    If I am wrong, I unreservedly apologize; but, I suspect I am not as were other more wise and blooded heads than me.

  6. DerekM

    Peter its quite simple Jim during the indyref thought he was important again due to getting some TV coverage,now like Wilson he is a smuck being used by the MSM to further their own agenda of stopping us gaining our freedom.

    I really dont think he understands that i hope thats the case because the alternative means he has sold us out for English gold and has become one of the cabal of yoon so called experts in the MSM who scream SNP bad.

    Jim has always had ideas above his station giving him a role in indyref was a mistake one we must not make again.

  7. SIH

    Whilst I regret Sillars’ consistent tone which tends to be anti-Nicola Sturgeon, and which in terms of his press coverage I feel has been damaging on occasion, I do however suggest that there are other factors at work within Westminster and with their global outriders which once the dust settles ‘on the surface’ for public consumption; we must look at how well the leave vote may actually be giving Cameron and the Conservative and factions of Labour what they have strategically been working towards – an excuse to press the EU into quick acceptance of TTIP with ‘concentrating their minds’ as a result of the UK leave vote. Cameron was unable to get this from the EU (or so it would seem publicly) and supposed economic melt-down is as good an excuse to usher in TTIP under pretenses with a fearful public being presented with it as the only solution to saving the day for everyone. Look at the leave campaign behaviour and now the statements from even the MEP chap declaring that we don’t need to really ‘leave’ the EU and that it would be only fair to accept free movement of people if we get ‘a good deal’. Now Jeremy Hunt declares, whether as stalking horse or genuinely, he will stand for leadership. This is not as bizarre as it would seem given his private healthcare leanings and with Health Care America pretty much permanently sat within Westminster. Cameron declared to the British Chambers of Commerce in Spring 2015 that ‘TTIP is the big one’. He replaced the UK’s ambassadorial offices purpose to not being diplomacy but to ‘selling’ the British brand. He wants all tariffs and trade barriers down and he said never mind the diplomacy, get those contracts signed with China, India and the states where only diplomacy held back the entry of business entities which had to adhere to human rights imposed sanctions. He said his task was to get the EU to move on all of these things. This leave vote has already been declared in a few press reports from various sources as being the ideal lever to better ‘concentrate the minds’ of the EU. It may sound far-fetched, but I do believe we are seeing a US/EU/UK stitch-up with the UK public having provided the excuse for Cameron to get what he and his government originally set out to do. Cameron surprised everyone prior to the General Election with his declaration that he would be leaving – which is always considered a political ‘death knell’ for any sitting PM. But in Westminster yesterday, the waters were extraordinarily calmer than you might have expected and it is incredible that not a single person is blaming him for the EU referendum result – the target has become Jeremy Corbyn with the SNP bogey man card being played less aggressively but there as the usual stand-by. Do check out the reports prior to the vote that Boris Johnson during his meetings with Martin Ivens of the Times who ‘was alone among senior staff in backing Leave’ – ‘argued in his own leader for the Boris option – the rather fanciful idea that Britain should vote to leave and then hold a second referendum ‘once the first has forced Brussels to undertake a more serious negotiation’. Cameron does not look as you would have expected him to continue to look or behave since his emotional resignation. Something stinks and Sillars may have a sniff. Then again he may not – but I think Scotland pursuing options is advisable – but I feel there ought to be no signing on the dotted line prior to seeing how the next three months unfolds between Westminster, the corporate controllers and the USA and EU.

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