Not so easy

yesIt is easy to mark Siol nan Gaidheal as an out-group. It is easy to justify intolerance of their ideology. It is easy to rationalise excluding them from the Yes movement. In matters of politics, I have learned to be wary of easy choices. In matters of ethics and morality, I find even more cause to be mistrustful of anything presented as an easy answer.

I have not made a study of Siol nan Gaidheal. I know enough about their ideology to be certain that I have no interest in knowing more. As someone who self-identifies politically as a civic nationalist, I find ethno-nationalism totally alien and profoundly objectionable. Racism is, quite apart from any other consideration, intellectually offensive. The ‘blood and soil’ nationalism espoused by Siol nan Gaidheal is, from my personal perspective, an affront to science and logic. It is an ugly ideology. It is ugly because it is facile. It is ugly because it arrives at significant conclusions about the character of individuals and groups on the basis of ‘evidence’ which is wholly inadequate and/or totally misleading.

You cannot know a person by the colour of their skin, or by any other aspect of their physical being bestowed by nature. You cannot know a person by their ancestry or their geographic origins. You can only know anything meaningful about a person from the conscious, considered choices that they make.

To my mind, the stuff peddled by Siol nan Gaidheal is rather too ludicrous to be considered dangerous. It would be easy to dismiss. So I don’t dismiss it from anything other than my own mind. Because I’ve learned to be wary of things that seem easy.

It is easy to condemn Siol nan Gaidheal. So easy that we might do so without thinking. We might just go along with the condemnation and the intolerance and the exclusion without questioning the process and without considering the implications. It is seldom a good idea to do anything thoughtlessly. It is always a good idea to consider the implications of any action. It is only sensible to examine what is actually going on with an apparently easy process. It’s good to question everything. The more obvious and easy it seems – or is made to seem – the more is likely to be revealed by questioning.

Why exclude Siol nan Gaidheal from the Yes movement? It can hardly be because they support the cause of restoring Scotland’s status as an independent nation. That, after all, is the primary aim of the Yes movement. What is proposed is that Siol nan Gaidheal be excluded on account of their motives for supporting independence. Which necessarily implies that their motives have been scrutinised and judged to be unacceptable. By whom? Who, in the Yes movement has the authority to conduct such scrutiny? Who has the right to pass judgement?

Who decides which groups and individuals are to be subjected to such scrutiny? Who decides which individuals and groups are exempt from any examination of their motives?

What criteria are applied in assessing whether an individual or group is fit to be part of the Yes movement? Who selects these criteria? Who ensures that the criteria are fairly applied? Who oversees the process by which individuals and groups are approved or rejected?

How does one apply for accreditation as an approved part of the Yes movement? To whom must one apply? Who has to apply? If not everybody, who decides which individuals and groups need not apply?

What seemed like an easy choice to exclude Siol nan Gaidheal from the Yes movement turns out to be rather more fraught when one takes the trouble to ask the awkward questions. It turns out to be more problematic than we’ve been led to suppose because asking those awkward questions brings the realisation that excluding Siol nan Gaidheal has implications, not only for them, but for the Yes movement. The process of excluding any individual or group necessarily and unavoidably says something about the character and nature of the entity which is doing the excluding.

The Yes movement that I have known and cherished is open and inclusive. It is totally open and inclusive. It is open and inclusive, not because those who are part of the Yes movement choose that it should be so, but because it is incapable of being anything else. By it’s very nature, the Yes movement cannot be other than open and inclusive. It is devoid of the capacity to be exclusive. It lacks the structures, the hierarchies, the regulations and the apparatus required in order to formally include or exclude anyone.

It is this that has made the Yes movement special – perhaps unique. Excluding Siol nan Gaidheal destroys this essential quality. Instituting a process by which any group or individual may be excluded necessarily transforms the Yes movement into an organisation. I would strongly urge that those who suppose casting out Siol nan Gaidheal is an easy choice think long and hard about the unintended consequences.

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22 thoughts on “Not so easy

  1. Have to agree, I said so in a reply on Facebook, I hate what the SnG stand for, but how do you stop them from the Rallies & Marches. After all the March & Rally took place under the AUOB (the A standing for ALL… I saw nothing wrong with their banner calling the Tories Scum…I have called them worse, they deserve worse, they have been starving people, evicting people, killing people & driving many disabled to suicide. So to me they ARE scum.. That could have been my banner.. And I admit to that..I hate the Tories with a passion, but I hate LABOUR just as equally, as they are more sleekit in the things they do..At least with the Tories you know what to expect..

    But I would never entertain the SnG. They are fascists.. But those types of people are going to be everywhere in every country. We will have a better chance of ridding our country of such people when we are INDEPENDENT, we do not need to be getting publicity from the MSM by making such a big deal if ignorant people, by arguing among ourselves. We all will have our own views & opinion on the SnG. Yet everyone on that RALLY were there for the one thing we do have in common with everyone else. INDEPENDENCE for OUR own Country..Let’s get that first, then deal with everything else when INDEPENDENT..


  2. Imagine the boost to the independence cause if the unionist held a rally! That’s why they don’t, they know the shite that would come crawling out of the gutter. Maybe that’s why it’s not a good idea to include SnG?
    Peter, you say it’s not for us to judge who is acceptable and who is not. Aye, up to a point. If, say, a group of independence supporting Nazis decided to campaign would that be acceptable? Or maybe a group of independence supporting anti gay campaigners?
    Like you, I don’t know much about SnG, but I’ve read enough to come to the conclusion they’re not the kind of organisation we should be giving oxygen.


  3. This debate really started because someone thought the :”Tory Scum” banner would be a tactical blunder. It then transpired it was the aforementioned group who had devised it. Lets be clear. the Tories are not nice people or a nice political party. Sure there are a few exceptions , but that doesn’t mean we can’t comment on their ethos or lack of moral fibre as an organisation.

    As far as I am concerned the Tories are bad, and if those in that party can’t see this. Then us holding up a banner isn’t going to determine whether they will shift to yes or not. Anyone with an ounce of moral fibre wouldn’t be in that party , especially if they live in Scotland. So the banner is fine by me and I won’t lose any sleep over it.

    The ethnic issue is another debate to be had. However we can’t ban people because they are fundamentalist. We can ban them if they cause violence , intimidation or commit hate crimes. So far there has been none of this. They have peacefully taken part in marches as they are obliged to do.

    Remember from history if we took a line where we excluded these types, then Wallace and Bruce or even MacDiarmid would have been banned.

    Lets not have the thought police taking over our movement either.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this Peter, I was a bit troubled myself when people started talking about excluding a group,,, while claiming to be all inclusive. I don’t think the banner claiming the Tories to be scum is particularly great, but the reaction to it seems to be one to how the media is portraying it, rather than the thing itself – if the group really are not being abusive while on marches, it is their choice on what banner to take and it is just commenting on a political party (has anyone tried asking if they could change the wording? It’s so 80s it brings on a shiver of horror). But the argument can be made that they are being exclusive & if they want support (for independence, if that is really their aim) they need to be inclusive.

    Anyway, I don’t know anything about the group, so I shouldn’t really comment, but sometimes applying overwhelming, all-embracing, non-judgemental, intense inclusiveness can change people to a degree (the group will be self-reinforcing socially unacceptable views if left isolated, perhaps.). If there is a ‘Tories for Yes’ group, maybe they could come out, for a bit of balance. Hmm, not my best idea there. I’ll leave it in though in case it leads anyone else to inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The ‘Tories for Yes’ idea is not so bad. I’m seeing more and more suggestions of ‘traditional’ Scottish Tories coming over to Yes in despair at the current UK Government. Should they form a group, doubtless there will shrill voices calling for them to be excluded from the Yes movement as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, now you say that, I am thinking that a ‘Tories for Yes’ group would actually make an impact on the uk government – and would be a very valuable asset to the independence cause – it would make very clear that current Westminster behaviour is beyond the pale (using the phrase tongue in cheek here!), that their own right wing surporters were no longer supporting. You would expect them to be bought over near instantly, but that’s my prejudices speaking.

        But surely there are Tories out there that realise they can have a more reasonable government, and a better chance of a rational Tory representation in an independent Scotland? (Whoa, it was tough writing that. I had to change ‘government’ to ‘representation’ – some things are just too difficult to contemplate).


      1. So, have I got this right? Bella Caledonia interrupted our pleasant contemplative chat with that ping back thing, which is a link to a personal attack on you Peter? Standard Agent Provocateur behaviour, which just confirms I was right not to read their stuff and wouldn’t have looked at it there (didn’t really read it, just got the gist) if you hadn’t mentioned them. Angry personal attacks are only going to serve one purpose, and it is not to support any cause, and blanking them is a good move – provoking a reaction is the aim after all.

        Sorry if I’ve picked things up wrong. A variation in different opinions being published is always good, it gives all different sorts of people different views that can inform and keep thinking flexible, otherwise we would be robots from the same assembly line. People have the right to consider what and whose opinions we want to listen to, and decide which are helpful to us. We don’t always make great choices mind you! But there is nothing to be done about that except keep informing, keep flexible.

        You write some excellent blogs Peter, and just the few comments here thanking you for writing this article should be enough for you to know that – you have expressed an alternative, to what was being touted as the robot-opinion, that was needed – and personal attacks are a complete irrelevance. Arguing with those agent provocateurs is just increasing their publicity, giving credence to their opinion and serving their agenda. ,,, um, I should say, I’m not really knowledgeable enough on the subject to actually give advice! I just know that if I feel ‘uh-oh, bickering, don’t want to get involved’ then something isn’t right, and it stifles rational debate.

        P.s. I only usually comment on Talking Up Scotland because John is very tolerant of my long, rambling approach 🙂 .


  5. As a lifelong anti-Tory, we need a Tories for Yes’ (or their equivalent) more than we need the lunatic fringes of the left (like RISE). I might want to live in an Independent socialist(ish) Scotland but I’d take living in an Independent Scotland if that is all I can have.

    As for SnG, who cares? The extreme right exists here as it does everywhere but (thankfully) they are a daft minority that we don’t need to get awfully upset about just yet.


  6. I joined Siol nan Gaidheal because Nationalism is a political, social, and economic system characterized by the promotion of the interests of a particular nation, especially with the aim of gaining and maintaining sovereignty over the homeland. It should not be confused with racism, supremacy or a hatred for multi diverse cultural society. It is about people who value the homeland, the history, the culture, the traditions, the future, the environment, the education and the wellfare of the people who live there no matter what religion, sex, age or origin.

    A lot people think or would like to instigate that Scottish Nationalism means ‘anti british’, ‘anti english’ or anti any other culture but its not…..

    All I personally would like to have is a proper, shared and fair system of development and democracy.

    I agree that the banner that was used was not what I see as a beneficial way forward for the group.

    However bearing in mind the outcomes of the conservative policies especially on our more vulnerable members of society I don’t think we should be too harsh on them for feeling bitter.

    I think at this time it would be detrimental to the cause for independence for groups to not work together no matter how large or small the members and that each person should be valued for their own worth and input as a member of our society.


  7. Your message is so correct, clear and simple. The time to sort out what kind of nation we are politically is AFTER we have restored sovereignty.


  8. If you want the narrative to be, “we accept extremists and ethno nationalists” charge on and appease wee pretendy gales. But make no mistake you give amunition to those who will spin and propagandize again us.
    So, who else should we appease, I am interested how far you will go?


      1. @ Proctor Lewis; His response to you is typical *Peter Speak.* When he realises he cannot answer a direct question, he will accuse the questioner of not understanding the issue. He insults then when his lack of knowledge prevents him from debating. He insults quite a lot.
        He asks: “Who, in the Yes movement has the authority to conduct such scrutiny? Who has the right to pass judgement?”
        Mr Bell is of the opinion that that person is Peter A Bell.


        1. That’s a bloody stupid comment given that the whole point of the article is that nobody has that authority. Obviously, you didn’t read and understand the article. You’ve nothing meaningful to say about it. All you have to offer is this childish whining.


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