Where we are

I suppose the big story of the week was the SNP administration’s abysmal failure to live down to the expectations of British nationalists who had spent several days eagerly anticipating bad news on Scotland’s economic performance. Like bairns awaiting Christmas, the spokespersons for the British parties and their chums in the media chattered incessantly about what the big day would bring. Would it be superbly awful? Or just satisfyingly bad? Could it possibly be magnificently catastrophic? Or was that too much to hope for?

In the event, it was to be a crushing disappointment for those whose most fervent desire is that Scotland should founder so disastrously as to make the listing wreck of the British state look like a rescue ship. Not only did the hated SNP fail to deliver the hoped-for recession, they had the damned impertinence to achieve an economic growth figure four times that of the UK!

All of which was doubly galling for the British nationalists due to the fact that they’d put so much effort into stressing that the SNP alone was responsible for these results. The British parties had sought to forestall any attempt to explain away the expected poor performance by reference to the chaos of Brexit or the austerity fetishism of the British political elite. The blame belonged entirely on the shoulders of the SNP. Which made it just a little awkward for the British parties to then deny the Scottish Government credit for what turned out to be a relatively excellent set of figures.

Not that bitter Britannia’s North British tribunes were to be deterred. They simply don’t do contrition or good grace. While the comparable figure for Germany of 0.6% was spoken of in positive terms such as ‘surge’ and ‘acceleration’, and even the UK’s 0.2% was described as ‘powering ahead’, Scotland’s growth rate of 0.8% was held to betoken a ‘narrow escape’ which only just avoided recession.

At 0.5%, France’s growth figure was cheerfully hailed as being much better than the forecast 0.3%. Scotland managed to beat the dire predictions from the undead of Project Fear by a full percentage point, only for us to be told this was more cause for gloom and misery than for even the most subdued and cautious celebration.

Nothing good can ever happen in Scotland. Nothing that happens in Scotland can ever be good. All is collapse. All is crisis. All is calamity. Because that’s the only way the Union can look good by comparison.

This grinding negativity is pernicious. It can grip a nation, warping its image of itself. It can become a self-fulfilling perversion of reality.

In a recent article, Neal Ascherson echoed Alasdair Gray’s famous line about working as if you lived in the early days of an independent nation as he urged that Scotland must “act as an independence nation”. In that, he was undoubtedly correct. Where he goes wrong is in misidentifying where we are now. He is infected by the grinding negativity disseminated by the British state’s propaganda machine.

In devising a political campaign, as in planning a journey, it is essential to know where you are starting from. There’s an old joke about a facile stereotype of an Irishman who, when asked for directions, replies that if that were his destination then he wouldn’t start from where he was. (It’s the way I tell them.) British nationalists are obviously aware of this story. They seek to persuade us that independence is a forlorn hope because we are in a place from which independence cannot be reached.

The importance of challenging this misrepresentation of where we are now was brought home to me by a couple of other articles that surfaced in the week just past.

The first was a truly appalling piece by Mandy Rhodes for Holyrood Magazine which asserted that the SNP is “in a dismal place right now”. An assertion supported by nothing more than a mechanical parroting of some of the choicest fallacies informing the cosy consensus of the British media.

The other is a piece in The Orkney News by Jeffrey Adams which proclaims that “Scotland is a worthy success story” and urges all of us to ensure that this message is heard throughout the Brexit process and beyond, to whatever future Scotland chooses.

How are we to know what choices are available to us if we don’t know where we stand right now. How can we perceive future possibilities if we are deceived about our present circumstances? How can we set a course for a better future if our compass is being manipulated by those who would rather see us driven onto the rocks?

Now, before anybody jumps on it, I am perfectly well aware that the first of these articles relates to the SNP while the second is about Scotland. But what I am talking about here is the different versions of our reality they present. The different starting points they define. Given its critical importance to both the manner of Scotland’s governance and the progress of the independence movement, the state of the SNP is every bit as significant as the state of the economy or any other aspect of Scotland the nation. We must have a reasonably accurate impression of where we are if we are to figure out how to get to where we want to be.

Which is why it is vital to understand both that Scotland is not the place described by British nationalists and that the SNP is not as portrayed by its rivals and enemies, either within the independence movement or ranged against it.

Don’t listen to scornful naysayers! Pay no heed to the sour voices of doom! The reality is that Scotland is in a pretty good place. Independence is within our reach. And the SNP is perfectly capable of fulfilling its role as the lever by which we will prise ourselves out of the British state.

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23 thoughts on “Where we are

  1. SandyW

    I’m hoping that Catalonia vote for independence in October. Once people here can see part of a familiar country taking independence it should persuade a few more Scots that it is perfectly possible for Scotland to do the same.

    1. silver19

      You can bet the there will be little if any coverage on the BBC on Catalonia vote for independence in October, Might get a mention on the BBC News at Six but zero on BBC Dis-Reporting Scotland.

      Would not surprise me if they don’t even mention it on the BBC at all, Cannot have people living in supposedly too wee too poor too stupid Northern Britain to have any ideas above our station.

  2. m boyd

    Peter, I think it’s called colonialism you must firstly denigrate in order to subjugate.

  3. bringiton

    Excellent data given the dead hand of Westminster is still holding us back.
    Unfortunately,because of that,there will continue to be future opportunities for the London based parties to denigrate Scotland and they will.
    A Scottish economy shaped by Scots will always outperform one being treated as an appendage to the South of England by London.
    The narrative from the unionists is that they pretend that an economy is something cast in stone,unaffected by political choices when the exact opposite is the case.
    However,in order to effect those political choices,control over the full range of fiscal levers is required.
    Scottish choices for a Scottish economy.

  4. Dan Huil

    Well said, Peter. Sometimes we cannae see the wood for the naysayers’ trees. And these britnats are barking!

  5. Stephen Shilton

    Great piece Peter, which clearly shows how its’s not so much the data that matters as much as the mind set. I really wish we could change the mind set of unionists. What a miserably self loathing lot they are!

  6. Geach

    If you deign to suggest (quite rightly) that the SNP run Scottish Government should take credit for the surprisingly good economic figures that were announced, then it also goes that they should be held responsible for poor figures that have been produced prior the last quarter. The fact that we outperformed rUK is laudable, but that is only the third time since 2006 that we have done that, in all other the other quarters, we have been the poor relation.
    It is also interesting that there is not one, not one solitary separatist voice denouncing GERS this week, which of course is the source of the figures.

    1. bringiton

      When 80% of the fiscal levers are retained by London,then it is unusual that the Scottish economy has deviated in any unintended way.
      The demand that Scotland’s economy remain firmly under the control of the London treasury says it all.
      The intent is to show to Scots that we cannot survive without English benevolence.
      England’s Tory party,benevolent.
      Ho ho ho.

      1. C avery

        You should read Harrison’s book on Ricardos law. We have all been subsidising London for years.

      1. Bibbit

        Even Gordon Brewer on last Sunday’s ‘Sunday Politics’ admitted that the offshore Oil & gas figures are included in UK figures and not Scotland’s economic figs. Only onshore oil & gas economy is included in Scottish figs. So the vast wealth off shore is counted not as Scottish but as UK (English) economy.

        Shout that from every roof top every day til independence.

  7. Hugh Wallace

    If you want to see how well Scotland of really doing have a read of Prof John Roberson’s blog. Sometimes I wish he wouldn’t find so many good news stories as we run the risk of people thinking the status quo of the Union is just fine for Scotland! (That was written with my tongue firmly in cheek.)

  8. manandboy

    At this time of year, I drive from the West of Scotland to the shores of the Moray Firth via Stirling, Perth, Dundee and Aberdeen. Throughout the entire journey, I see nothing to indicate that Scotland is anything other than a wealthy country, albeit with some poverty in towns and cities.

    ‘Too poor’ is just Westminster propaganda, swallowed by large numbers of an already brainwashed population since 1707.

    The lynchpin of the current Unionist strategy is to keep the Tories in power until Brexit is concluded so that the Establishment can be provided for and made secure, while at the same time, doing everything possible to render Scots sovereignty ineffectual and so stop Scotland’s Independence.

    Excellent piece, Peter.

    1. C avery

      Scotland is in a lot of respects materially richer than most parts of England albeit the S E of England has the material wealth of the house prices. When I was student I worked in Hertfordshire and was always surprised that the most average looking houses were worth millions. However, I go to Germany regularly and they are light years ahead of England but still retain perspective on house and land prices and the wider society. The streets are clean and local shops abound and the city centres remain vibrant and resided in. Here, we have the US model and the cities are dead.

  9. Scunnered Scot

    The only people who have ever said, ‘Too wee, too poor’ are nationalists. It was a clever wee meme, designed to create division. Same applies to all the mythical unionists who were looking forward to bad economic news.

    Mr. Bell got one thing right though, ‘This grinding negativity is pernicious. It can grip a nation, warping its image of itself. It can become a self-fulfilling perversion of reality’.

    1. Geach

      The first person to utter the words “Too wee, too poor, too stupid” was John Swinney…. check it out.

  10. C avery

    I think we should stop the griping and watch the BBC documentary that’s on to night: “who bombed Birmingham” Nice timing as usual.

  11. Dan Huil

    Sadly the Scottish Cringe is still with us with the “we’re aw doomed” merchants filled with self-hatred and cowardice still doing down Scotland. The anti-Scottish media will continue its pernicious propaganda, indeed it will likely increase its britnat hysteria. The reason for that is obvious: they know independence is on the way. Take cheer from that alone.

    Also we have the britnat brexit farce to enjoy for months to come. A joy to watch britnats destroying their so-called united kingdom.

  12. Louis

    Yeah, thanks for that.

    I’ve just read the intro to the book on amazon. I’ll put a request into the local libary, and see what happens. Failing that, torrent sites, or I’ll shall just have to oil the wheels of capitalism with my hard earned smackeroonies.

    Here’s a wee clip on the smackeroonie


    Apologizes, if you’ve already seen this.


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