A couple of points

I’m going to gloss over the stuff about ‘broad’ movements lacking any mention of the essential sharp point of effective political power. I know only too well that any talk of real-world political power is anathema to that coterie of clipboard-toting technocrats, posturing intellectuals and righteous radicals to whch Robin belongs. But there are a couple of other things that really have to be challenged.

For a start, there’s the notion that we don’t need to be talking about referendums. It’s like Robin hasn’t noticed that the mighty machinery of the British state is currently mobilised in an effort to prevent a new independence ever happening. It’s like he supposes we can just skip the bit where we affirm and defend Scotland’s right of self-determination against a British nationalist movement absolutely determined to deny us that right.

The reality (apologies for intruding, guys!) is that, right now, mandate for a new referendum. She has the approval of the Scottish Parliament. What she yet lacks is public demand evident enough that it cannot be denied by any but the most fanatical British nationalists with no compunction about looking like complete fools.

What I heard from our First Minister was a barely-coded request that we set about building that demand, and the evidence for it. Only then, when our right to that referendum is established beyond reasonable doubt and generally acknowledged by all but the real anti-democratic bigots, can we take a bit of a break from talking about referendums.

Then there’s this –

“But now Davidson holds the balance of power in the UK. She commands 13 MPs who represent the Tories’ tenuous grip on power.”

To be honest, when I first read this I thought it might be a joke. A facetious reference to Ruth Davidson’s comical pretensions. I’m still not sure I should be taking it seriously. I half expect a reply imploring me to ‘lighten up’ and ‘get a sense of humour’.

I’ll risk the rebukes, and point out that the statement is the most atrocious nonsense on a number of levels. The notion of Davidson’s 13 MPs holding the “balance of power” at Westminster is risible. This is not a separate party. These are Tories. They take their orders from their party bosses in London. Which makes the stuff about Davidson being in ‘command’ every bit as laughable as the idea of these British Tories from North Britain as some sort of rogue political force holding Theresa May to ransom on behalf of the common folk of Scotlandshire.

I get Robin’s point about treating Davidson AS IF she’s a real leader of a real party with real influence. But I’m not sure he makes it clear enough that this is no more than a pretence – a device for the purposes of ensuring Colonel Bull-Straddler is blamed for all the stuff that oozes out of Theresa May as she squats over Scotland.

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24 thoughts on “A couple of points

  1. bringiton

    Agreed Peter.
    All of the unionist parties,apart from those in Ireland,take their orders from HQ in London and are funded from there (even the Irish ones now).
    Their sole purpose is to maintain London rule over Scotland,at any cost.
    One thing is for sure,none of these people can play any part in the political life of an independent Scotland.

  2. Big Jock

    I thought it was sinister when Mundell said:” If Nicola still wants to be first minister in 2021 she better do such and such…”

    It was a veiled threat that some Skulduggery could be set in motion. After all the electorate decide…don’t they?

    The Tories plan to asset strip Scotland and gradually dissolve Holyrood into an assembly. The losely disguised rhetoric is that they think it is now too powerful.

    When Nicola said they were planning a power grab she wasn’t doing it for dramatic effect. All the language is of smashing the SNP and building a British state. They are going to do to Scotland what they did to Ireland.

    Outside the EU Scotland will be cannon fodder for the ruthless Tories. We must get out while still largely protected by the EU. Nicola knows this. We have 20 months to save Scotland. It is deadly serious.

    1. Peter A Bell Post author

      Well said.

      The thing we to keep in mind is that we are dealing with a regime in London that is using increasingly extreme British nationalism to compensate for its weakness and incompetence. The important term there is, not ‘British nationalism, so much as ‘increasing’. The weakness and incompetence are not self-healing. They will only get worse. And, as they do, the need to resort to ever more flagrant abuses of power will grow at an accelerating rate. And Scotland will bear the brunt of this, for the simple reason that the British state needs us while the British establishment fears us.

      We ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

      1. Alasdair Macdonald

        I think Mr Bell is right in stating that the ‘British’ state is engaged on a major offensive against independence for Scotland and that this has been continuous since the conclusion of the 2014 referendum. It is appearing through a wide range of media, a continual drip-drip of anti-independence snippets and pro-British assertions.

        Yesterday, for example, on a bus passing through Scotstoun in Glasgow i saw a huge advertising board about ‘Scotland in Union’. When I went into a Co-op to buy sandwiches for lunch, I was informed they contained ‘British’ meat and the now ubiquitous union flag appeared on the wrapper. In Waitrose, ‘Scottish’ eggs were stacked under ‘Regional’ produce. We are getting a raft of nostalgia films : “Dunkirk”‘ “Churchill”, “Their Finest”. These are well made and nuanced films, but they are evoking ‘the (mythical) time when Britain stood alone’.

        We have to recognise that this is pretty potent and undoubtedly affected the results in the recent Council elections and GE.

        The media are consistently putting out the trope that, with the deal with the DUP, the Tories are safe for the next five years. Increasingly there is the dog whistling that democracy is not really needed; Mrs May (or her successor) knows best and will simply present us with the deal, whatever that is.

        So, while I welcome the optimism and enthusiasm of Robin Williamson, Lesley Riddoch, Angela Haggerty and others, we must be aware that a pretty ruthless force is mobilised against independence and we must not be deluded by our own propaganda.

        We must also continue to make alliances with anti-Government groups elsewhere, such as large sections of Labour in England, PC, SF, Greens and various campaigning groups. The tragedy of Grenfell Tower has shown the malign effects of the venal neoliberal philosophy and already the Government and the media are trying to neuter it – ‘shame on you for making it a “political” issue’, the appointment of a pretty partial judge to chair the enquiry, the deferment of the total number of deaths. Grenfell has to be kept in the public consciousness and the many other suppressed issues, like Hillsborough, the Rangers ‘Big Tax’ case, deaths of homeless people, etc.

        1. Peter A Bell Post author

          Very well said. The most effective propaganda doesn’t look like propaganda at all. In fact, it looks so unlike propaganda that people reject any suggestion that it is propaganda. Often quite vehemently.

        2. Geacher

          @Alistair you are seriously lumping Greenfell and Hillsborough, true tragedies where many many innocent people lost their lives in the same category as the Ranger’s tax case?? You need to get a sense of perspective here, sir, you really do.
          BTW I am no Rangers supporter, nor for that matter a Celtic one.

        3. Dan Huil

          I doubt whether britnat Westminster would be much perturbed if social unrest occurred; it would be their excuse to impose further social and economic restrictions. Why do you think britnat Westminster is talking up the “Ulsterization” of Scotland?

          Check out bbc support of orange order marches in Glasgow today.

          1. Geacher

            And what social and economic restrictions have they imposed on Scotland so far?
            Gimme your top three…..
            In your own time.

  3. David Gill

    Why will you and Robin not get together and agree to move forward in a positive fashion instead of, from the outside, what appears to be point scoring, particularly from reading your analyses?

    It may not be but if very much seems as though it is in-fighting amongst the pro-indy group.

    Just agree to disagree in private and continue with definitive ideas to move forward.

    David Gill

    1. Peter A Bell Post author

      Robin and I are good friends. I’m sure he is not at all troubled by my analyses. Because he is smart enough to know that articles such as the one above are written, not for his benefit, but for a wider audience.

      It’s not about point-scoring. Well… not entirely. Think of it as intellectual jousting. And what’s wrong with that? It’s a form of discourse. A manner of debate. The purpose is, not to score points, but to make them.

      How tedious would it be if we all sounded the same? People are complex and diverse. There isn’t only one ideal way of addressing them that will always be guaranteed to work. One of the things I was constantly stressing during the first referendum campaign was the need for, ‘One message! Many voices!”.

      Never mistake the style for the message. Had you been paying proper attention you might have noted a couple of “definitive ideas to move forward” in the article. With your indulgence, I’ll take this opportunity to reiterate those points.

      First, there is the point that, to succeed, any political campaign ultimately requires effective political power. All the happy-clappy talk of ‘diversity’ and a ‘broad spectrum of views’ is great. But that describes the movement, not the campaign. The campaign, especially as it nears its end-point, has to be almost dictatorial in character. It has to be focused and single-minded and disciplined. The power of the movement has to be gathered behind the spear-point of an effective political agency. In the arena of British politics, which is where the battle for independence must be fought, this means a political party and a suitable figurehead.

      That’s just the way it is. It’s how politics works. Whether you approve or not is irrelevant. Your attitude to the SNP has to be weighed against your desire to succeed. At some juncture, the entire Yes movement has to get behind Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. You can scream and stamp your feet and protest until your arse drops off, the realpolitik will not be impressed in the slightest.

      The other point I was making is that we have, in effect, three campaigns to fight. They are not entirely separate. Indeed, they overlap in myriad ways. But one takes priority simply on account of chronology. Before we can win the campaign for independence we must first win the campaign to assert, affirm and defend our right of self-determination. That is key.

      The British establishment knows that it cannot defeat the independence movement, because it cannot defend the existing political union. So it must forestall the independence movement. It can do that in a couple of ways. It can eliminate or deny access to effective political power. We see this in the effort to undermine the SNP and delegitimise the democratic institutions (Scottish Parliament) by means of which the party exercises effective political power on behalf of the independence movement. (While also doing the ‘day job’ of running a quietly competent administration.)

      Or established power may seek to forestall challenges to the integrity of its structures of power, privilege and patronage by manipulating or obstructing the democratic process. We see that in the efforts to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination.

      The three campaigns that we must conduct are, in no particular order other than what may be obvious from the constraints of chronology,

      (a) Defend Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. Partly because we need a political party as the political arm of the independence movement. It’s the only means of exercising effective political power. And partly because Nicola Sturgeon is also the democratically elected First Minister; and the SNP is the democratically elected administration. The office of First Minister doesn’t belong to the incumbent. It belongs to us, the people of Scotland. Likewise, the Scottish Government isn’t owned by the party in office. It’s ours! The First Minister and the Scottish Government answer to the institution of the Scottish Parliament. Which is also ours. It is our principal democratic institution.

      The First Minister, the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament are only as strong as the people who own them. Whatever differences we may have in terms of policy, we must ALL combine to defend the offices and institutions which embody our democracy.

      (b) Defend our right of self-determination. Something which surely should need no explanation. What may need to be stressed, however, is the degree to which this right – more precisely, the ability to exercise the right – is in jeopardy. For the reasons explained above, it is a prime target for established power.

      (c) Defend the sovereignty of Scotland’s people. because THAT, and not some contrived economic calculation, is what our campaign is all about. It’s about who decides. It is a contest of two wholly incompatible concepts of democracy. One in which ultimate power lies with a small elite. And one which recognises only the people as the ultimate authority.

      I apologise for what has turned into a rather lengthy response. But these things urgently need to be said. They need to be said loudly and often. And in all manner of ways. Many voices! One message!

      1. Philip Maughan

        Have to disagree with you on point (c) where you talk about ‘some contrived economic calculation’ Your points (a,b, and c) probably work for all who currently support Independence, however I would suggest that to win over the 10% or so that we still need will require good economic arguments. That’s why Brexit is so important as it will give cause them to reassess their priorities/loyalties once it starts to hit their pockets. That’s also where Common Weal have a very important role in explaining some of the key economic arguments, on currency, central bank and what GERS tells us about Scotland’s finances. They do it in a simple, accessible format with examples that can be easily understood by the non-engaged voter.

        1. Hugh Wallace

          The trouble with the Common Weal is that they don’t speak very well to the 10% of undecideds who we need to move to Yes. They may speak very well to a large cohort of the existing Yes movement (myself included) but those who are naturally persuaded by their arguments are probably among the firmest Yes voters around. But that doesn’t buy us more votes. IMHO.

          1. Philip Maughan

            Common Weal have some really simple examples, eg. Robin McAlpines analogy that, were the Netherlands to become part of the UK they would immediately be poorer due to outsourcing of services to other parts of the UK. This currently accounts for 20% of all Scottish expenditure which, if repatriated would significantly improve Scotland’s finances. Also Craig Dalziel’s work on creating a Central Bank in which he points out that we could quite easily raise $40 billion (party from our share of Bank of England’s assets), that such a sum ( equivalent to 20% of Scottish GDP) is more than adequate and compares favourably with other Nations.

      2. David Gill

        Thank you Peter for your thoughtful and lengthy response.I still stand by my comments that the less ambiguity that is perceived by those not familiar or interested in the machinations of the ‘Westminster system’ between various pro Indy groups the better.The term ‘United Front’ comes to mind.

        Moving slightly off this particular topic it is frequently said that the Indyref movement has difficulties in countering among the general public scare stories emanating from the MSM and particularly from the BBC.I watch various travel vlogs on You Tube, each CHANNEL having its own title and very often sponsored by advertising. Is this not a route that the Indyref movement could take and use it to not only counter the misinformation but to present in various formats the case for independence. Give the channel a suitable title and present a regular slot each week…or more….and hopefully it will attract an ever widening audience.

        Not certain if such a course is legal although Wikipedia shows the following comment…..

        Independent or alternative news organizations, such as Baltimore-based The Real News, Qatar-based Al Jazeera English, or Russian Rain TV have established channels on YouTube that allow a wider audience than traditional broadcast television.[36]

        It could be an additional platform for the ‘Journey to Yes’ videos.

        Imagine presenting a ‘Not the Good Morning Scotland news’…what fun!!

        Older people tend not to use social media, have twitter accounts etc but would view using laptops or smart t/vs.

        Just a few thoughts.

  4. Big Jock

    The MSM ramping has already started this morning on BBC Shortbread. Three SNP bad stories in a row.

    First a lengthy diatribe from the farmers spokesman about the delayed subsidy payments. 90% have been paid to date , so only 10% are delayed. The very farmers that are moaning are the ones who reinstated a Scottish secretary who ran away when the DUP got £1m and Scotland nil. Do they these Brexit voting clowns not realise that the Tories are the ones who have now ended the EU subsidies for ever! Good luck getting your subsidies from Whitehall when they haven’t a bean to spare other than for bribes to scoundrels in the DUP.

    Then we have the Fraser of Allander institute saying Scotland is on the brink of recession. Well we know who they will blame that for. Not the Tory austerity asset strippers, it’s Sturgeons fault even if macro economics is a reserved matter and the failure is under the union not under independence.

    Then we have the Tory MP Miles Briggs trying to be the good guy by getting FPC for under 65’s as a result of Frank’s law the footballer with head injuries. This will be the same man who’s party are trying to destroy the welfare state. If we pass Frank’s law then this opens the flood gates for every person under 65 who may require free personal care to also make claims. This is a wonderful idea ethically. Economically it’s madness as there is absolutely no money to pay for it, and Mr Mundell just lost us 4 billion!

    Governments have to make choices and sometimes the funding has to go to the majority rather than personal crusades.

    1. Robert Graham

      Big Jock have you been reading the post i was about to send to Wings ? , almost word for word your post mirrors mine ha ha its uncanny , i decided to drop the reference to frank’s law as i wasnt quite sure of the background , but something wasnt quite right when a tory was calling for more public spending , when just yesterday they voted down the relaxation of the public service pay freeze , and as a big thank you to all the guff that was spouted about our brave firemen & women they couldn’t bring themselves to even try to make things a little bit easier , trust them i wouldnt piss on them , as Alex Salmond said what do you expect they are tories its what they do .

  5. Big Jock

    Yes Robert while I have absolute sympathy for people affected by brain injuries and their families. This individual case has been on radio Scotland for weeks. Indeed his wife was interviewed on Sports sound for over 20 minutes.

    There are personal tragedies all over Scotland. In fact most people could name at least one person in their circle of friends who are affected by some form of brain disorder and are under 65. The fact that a Tory has taken on this case leaves me very suspicious as to his motivation. Frank’s wife is just doing the best for her husband’s legacy, so we can all understand that.

    An MSP trying to change the law surrounding public funding based on an individual situation is political. It goes against the general ethics and beliefs of the party he represents. Did the Tories not just take away benefits from those in England and Wales or did I imagine this:

    “Corbyn said: “The reality is, this is a shameful decision that will affect people with dementia, those suffering cognitive disorders due to a stroke, military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and those with schizophrenia”.

    Now if only we had a money tree?

  6. Geacher

    All very well and good but to say that our economic situation is “contrived” is classic head-in-the-sand stuff. We teeter on the brink of an official recession, our deficit is ever increasing and there is no sign of any cohesive plan from Holyrood on how to sort that …not a peep have we heard from Sturgeon. Any sign from anyone about how we would make up the loss of the £9b fiscal transfer? No. And as for what currency we will use on independence, do we have a scoobydo? No. Until these things are fixed, you ain’t gonna persuade anyone to change their mind, not 1% never mind 10.

    1. Dan Huil

      All very well and good but to say that our economic situation is “contrived” is classic head-in-the-sand stuff. We teeter on the brink of an official recession, our deficit is ever increasing and there is no sign of any cohesive plan from Westminster on how to sort that …not a peep have we heard from May. Any sign from anyone about how we solve the £1.7 trillion debt.

      1. Geacher

        rUK is expected to announce yet another quarter of economic growth, and it had been many tears since rUK had a period of negative growth….Scotland is about to have its consecutive second when the figures are announced next week. And perhaps UK’s debt would be more manageable if Scotland did not contribute so much to it every year…for the last four years 20% of the annual debt of rUK comes from Scotland.
        rUK’s pc GDP, with Scotland’s figures extracted is just under 3%, within the EU maximum allowed. Scotland’s is 10%. Last years our deficit was worse than Zimbabwe’s. Think about that.

          1. Geacher

            Ah right Liz…. the figures and accounts produced by our very own SNP run Scottish Government are false then?

        1. Craig P

          The proportion of UK debt doesn’t come from Scotland. It is attributed to Scotland. Big difference.

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