Fooling themselves

Jamie Maxwell may be an “Edinburgh-based writer”, but he obviously views Scottish politics through the jaundiced and profoundly prejudiced lens of the London-based media. Few in Scotland would recognise the caricature of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP that he presents. Few, that is, besides the British nationalists for whom he writes.

I’m certain the very possibility would never occur to Mr Maxwell, but he is just plain wrong. He is wrong in part because, like all Unionists, he has a desperate need to believe in the notion of ‘peak SNP. Frustrated and resentful that the party and the wider independence movement didn’t evaporate in the wake of the first referendum, devotees of the British state have been frantically trying ever since to convince themselves and the Scottish electorate that this threat to the established order is about to collapse and vanish. This exercise in self-delusion actually started long before the referendum.

The first predictions of the SNP’s imminent demise appeared within a week of them forming Scotland’s first real post-devolution government in 2007. But the fact that a No vote didn’t kill the party stone dead has been driving British nationalists quite mad. They won the referendum, then had to watch as the SNP and other Scottish (as opposed to British) parties took all the prizes.

It is largely this demented perplexity that informs Jamie Maxwell’s grotesque ‘analysis’. But there is also the propaganda element. The vicious campaign of lies, scaremongering and empty promises mounted by the British establishment in response to the threat of Scotland choosing to be a normal nation has never ended. It has continued in the same maliciously dishonest vein since 2014. Pretty much all of the British media has been colluding with the British political parties in a campaign to undermine confidence in Scotland’s democratic institutions and public services. We have seen a sustained attack on NHS Scotland, Police Scotland, our education and legal systems and much else, as well as a series of smear attempts against SNP politicians, all in an effort to discredit the party and instil the idea that Scotland is ‘Too wee! Too poor! Too stupid!’ to be independent.

This article is distinguished from the bilious, delirious hate-speak of the Daily Express and the Daily Mail only in its relative subtlety and superficial reasonableness. The intent is the same. Portray Nicola Sturgeon in what is considered within the cosy consensus of the metropolitan media to be an unfavourable light. The reasoning – if we can glorify crude deviousness with that term – is that, if Nicola Sturgeon has been successful as an “insurgent” then she can be brought down by convincing Scottish voters that she is anything but.

There’s a slight problem with all of this. It doesn’t work. It hasn’t been effective in the past. And there’s nothing to suggest that it is having the desired effect now. Nicola Sturgeon’s approval ratings remain stubbornly at levels other politicians can only fantasise about. The SNP’s popularity hasn’t waned in the slightest. As things stand, only the proportional voting system stands between the British parties in Scotland and total obliteration in this year’s local government elections. Polls indicate the SNP would sweep the boards if there was either a Scottish or a UK general election tomorrow.

Commentators such as Jamie Maxwell pander to an increasingly fervent British nationalism. They tell British nationalists what they want to hear. They show hard-line ideological Unionists what they want to see. But they’re clearly not fooling the people of Scotland.

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6 thoughts on “Fooling themselves

  1. N. Holmes

    Maxwell’s central argument seems to be that Brexit and Trump “proves” the SNP’s liberal middle ground politics is an outdated ideology the rest of the world has moved on from; he says

    “Sturgeonism – with its emphasis on European integration, liberal identity politics, and finance-led growth – has a lot in common with Blairism.”

    Really? The SNP is Blairite according to Maxwell?! All this article shows is Maxwell either: 1) does not really have a clue what the independence movement is about at all, nor is willing to make an effort to understand it, or 2) it is deliberate propaganda portraying Scottish independence as an outmoded, stale political ideology. In any case, it is a confused, superficial, distorted piece of “journalism”.

    1. N. Holmes

      I should also add that as a previous Labour voter, I abandoned the party specifically because of Blair and his Iraq war in 2003, and that Brexit and Trump has made me even more committed to the SNP and Scottish independence as a progressive movement. Scottish independence politics has transcended the stale political dichotomy of Tory/Labour and revealed the lack of democracy in the British state. So everything Maxwell claims about the SNP appears to be based on a completely false premise, that it is some lagging behind form of Blairism which was clearly a political doctrine created as a response to Tory ideology and developed specifically to appeal to Middle England voters.

  2. brewsed

    The use of polysyllabic phraseology doesn’t disguise a miserable piece of writing best ignored.

    An opportunity missed. Given the potential audience, it would have quite useful to detail to the wider world the actions taken by the Scottish Government’s in it attempts to remain in the single market. Instead, we get an evidence free ‘a sense of inertia is beginning to shroud her administration’, a statement at odds with reality, or at least the reality I perceive.

    But the author will have collected a bob or two for churning a thousand words (and at 1016 words it does look a bit like word-count journalism), so it can’t all be bad, can it?

  3. Clydebuilt

    Is this the same Jamie Maxwell who wrote many articles for the National during its early editions. The articles were interesting and pro Indy……..

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