Considering consequences

pw_siuAssuming, as we must, that Pete Wishart is not entirely delighted at having been appointed poster-boy for the uglier fringes of anti-democratic ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism, he will doubtless be glad of the succour offered by Andrew Tickell. The veteran SNP MP will surely be aware that there’s precious little support for his call to inaction across the Yes movement.

Having trained as a lawyer, Andrew Tickell will probably be aware of the Latin term argumentum ad verecundiam. The rest of us may be more familiar with the English translation argument from authority, or appeal to authority.

Pete Wishart’s public intervention is helpful, not least because his description of the lie of the land better reflects the ambivalent conversations between independence supporters you hear behind closed doors than the noisy certainties which dominate pro-indy debates in public about where Nicola Sturgeon should turn from here.

I don’t doubt that this reflects Andrew’s experience. But, despite his derisive dismissal of alternative accounts as “noisy certainties”, there is no reason to suppose that his experience is any more valid or representative of reality than, say, my own. I have no way of knowing the extent of his eavesdropping on “conversations between independence supporters”. For all I know, he may devote an inordinate amount of time to this pursuit. It may well be that these overheard conversation really were as “ambivalent” as he claims. He may consider that he has amassed sufficient evidence to justify his conclusion. But is it sufficient to satisfy those whose minds are open to alternative accounts?

In recent months I have travelled all over Scotland meeting and talking with individuals and groups from just about every part of the Yes movement. I found very little sign of the “ambivalence” to which Andrew refers. On the contrary, and despite my expectations, these “conversations between independence supporters” revealed a calm, considered confidence that a new referendum in September 2018 is advisable or essential or both.

Just as Andrew’s argument from the unverifiable authority of unquantified private conversations among unidentified independence supporters isn’t quite as conclusive as he might wish us to believe, so Pete Wishart’s exclusive claim to ‘pragmatism’ isn’t finding the unquestioning acceptance he seems to think it deserves. The implication that those who reject his appeal to inertia are being impractical, or overly emotional, is actually quite offensive. The people I speak to aren’t driven by mindless nationalistic fervour. They are at least as capable of rationally assessing the political situation as Pete Wishart is.

Speaking to voters on the doorsteps in his Perth and North Perthshire constituency may give Pete Wishart some insight. But there is no reason to suppose this trumps insights gained by talking to people in Troon and Thurso and Elgin and Lerwick and Glasgow and Portree and Dunfermline. And Pete Wishart’s preference for indefinitely deferring a new independence referendum is finding very little favour in any of those places.

It is arrogant folly of the worst kind to dismiss the views of these people as “noisy certainties”. Messrs Wishart and Tickell would be well advised to at least consider the possibility that the activists who are the bedrock of the Yes movement may be perfectly qualified to reach their own conclusions about the best way forward. If they reject the hyper-cautious approach being commended by a handful of independence supporters it may well be for very sound reasons. Perhaps, like me, they’ve noticed something missing from Pete Wishart’s argument. Perhaps, like me, they’re still waiting to be told what criteria might be used to assess this “optimum time”. Perhaps, like me, they’re still curious as to how this “optimum time” might be predicted months in advance. Perhaps, like me, they’re left wondering how Pete Wishart can be so absolutely certain that September 2018 isn’t the “optimum time”.

Maybe, like me, they’ve considered another big hole in Pete Wishart’s argument. While he frets anxiously and dolefully about what he supposes will be the impact of holding the referendum ‘too soon’ and losing, he appears to have given no thought at all to the consequences of postponing a vote until such time as the portents are entirely auspicious and victory is absolutely assured. Or, to put it another way, never!

Perhaps, like me, those Yes activists who disagree with Pete Wishart have filled in the gaps for themselves. Perhaps, like me, they’ve considered the potential consequences of losing a September 2018 referendum and not holding a referendum in September 2018. Perhaps, like me, they’ve realised that the consequences are precisely the same in both scenarios. Perhaps, like me, they recognise that the only difference is that doing it Pete Wishart’s way makes those consequences a certainty.

Perhaps, like me, they know that the only chance we have of avoiding the onslaught of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism is to go for a referendum in September 2018 and put all our energies into making that the “optimum time”.

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10 thoughts on “Considering consequences

  1. Totally with you here, Mr Bell. Pete Wishart needs to understand that there will NEVER be an ideal time for IndyRef2. Salmond started from around 28% and got us up to 45%. Why can’t Nicola take us fro 47% (current) to 55% in IndyRef2? Why not, Pete?

    Over and above which, I am of the view that if a party in Scotland stands on a GE or SE manifesto of giving the people an IndyRef if elected and they win then that is democrcary and that is what will happen. Every day of the week and twice on Saturdays if that is what the people of Scotland decide to support. We will have an IndyRef for as long as it takes for us to break free from the crushing yoke of British Nationalism.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It comes down to the 52% or so who have kept on saying they’re No voters in opinion polls. What proportion of that group is inclining to Yes, even if they are shy about it and opt for No when asked by Survation or YouGov?

    Yes was able to increase by about 15% to 17% in the 2014 campaign when there was no enforced Brexit and devo power grab happening. That makes it hard to believe Yes can’t acquire the extra 2% or 3% support needed in the radically different context in which indyref2 will be held.

    We’ve got a green light for go.


  3. I have long been worried by Pete Wisharts aparent conformity to the establishment rules of Westminster, We will never gain Independence by playing to their rules, I want to hear our MPs getting under their skin, Protesting loudly and ignoring the niceties of the club 😡


  4. Seldom disagree with you, Peter and today is no exception. As I said to you when we met recently outside Holyrood, keep up the great work you do. Your insight is invaluable and greatly appreciated.


  5. September 2018 is six months away. That would be four years since the last referendum. Do you think it likely that the British government would grant you another referendum?


  6. If they’re having ‘ambivalent conversations’ about independence behind closed doors, they’re not independence supporters.


  7. Messers Wishart and Tickell should consider the other latin saw “Cui Bono?”

    This whole spat reeks of “Divide et Impera”.

    I am not a member of the SNP though I do vote for them. I ponder on why and why now for this spat to bubble up.

    I am certain that “Dark Forces” are at work.

    I am also certain that agents of the “Deep State” are embedded in the SNP.

    Keep up the good work Mr Bell.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Totally agree, if not now then when? Probably never. Once Brexit happens everything will be done to minimise Holyrood. EU nationals in Scotland won’t get a vote. Ok for them to vote when Likely they voted No, but now that they will have changed to Yes it is only fair that they get to change their mind. Really not sure what is going , it is almost as if Independence is on the back burner. I suspect that PW is senior enough within SNP to be a tester of opinion. At the moment he has found favour with the Unionists, so therefore likely he is wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

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