I attended an event yesterday (Sunday 29 September) organised by Yes Edinburgh & Lothian. Called ‘The Big Grassroots Conversation’, the even took the form of a number of workshops on various aspects of the independence cause and campaign followed by a Q&A session with a panel answering – or, at least, responding to – questions arising from the earlier workshops.
The following does not purport to be a factual account of proceedings. Neither, however, is it a misleading account. None of it is untrue. Most of it concerns my impressions of and reactions to what I saw and heard. I mention no individuals by name and do not attribute any comments to anyone other than those which may be attributed to myself.
If anybody who attended the event is reading this and recognises any of the attitudes and opinions to which I refer and is overcome by the urge to defend those attitudes and opinions, that is entirely a matter for them. I would say only that they might want to have a wee think first about what it is they are claiming ownership of.
Because I often use the writing process as a way of sorting and clarifying my own thoughts, brevity is not always my first priority. Readability, however, is something I strive for. To that end, I try to limit myself lest following the meanderings should become more trouble than it’s worth. In this instance, I intend to restrict my comments to three areas – the referendum campaign; the referendum process; and what it is all for.
I came away from the ‘Big Grassroots Conversation’ with the clear impression that the consensus within the independence movement is that the campaign should be conducted exactly as for the 2014 referendum. There is much talk of doing things differently. But probe what is being proposed and you find that it is no different from what was done previously. There is an acceptance, of a sort, that the 2014 Yes campaign was in some way defective or deficient. Not massively so. But there’s as sense that people realise it didn’t quite work. I don’t mean simply in terms of the end result, although the campaign obviously didn’t work well enough to secure a Yes vote. What I sense is more a vague unease about the strategy. Too vague and insubstantial to overcome a deep reluctance to consider the lessons that might be learned from a rigorous and honest analysis of the entire campaign – both sides.
I have previously dismissed claims that there was no ‘post mortem’ conducted on the 2014. campaign. I pointed out that there had, in fact, been interminable discussion of the way the campaign was conducted. What I came to realise, however, was that this discussion was almost entirely superficial. In many – perhaps most – cases it was more about rationalising the choices that were made rather than learning the lessons of bad choices.
I am not pointing any fingers here. The shallowness of analysis was a general trait across both the formal (political organisation) side of the Yes campaign and the informal (grassroot movement) side. No lessons were learned by anybody. I recognise that this is a generalisation, but it is one that I feel justified in making because of the evidence of my own experience at events such as ‘The Big Grassroots Conversation’ and in all my observations online and elsewhere. No lessons have been learned and the result is that the Yes campaign will be conducted precisely as previously – but maybe with a bit more polish. Nothing will be done differently in any meaningful way. So, whatever defects and deficiencies there were in the 2014 campaign, those defects and deficiencies will be replicated.
This may not lead to the same outcome. We start with support for independence at a far higher level than was the case prior to the 2014 campaign. And the political environment has changed beyond recognitions. These two facts alone suggest to me that a different approach is required. But nobody seems in the slightest bit interested in even considering a rethink. I guess rethinking is just too hard.
By way of illustrating my point, I want to recount a couple of things I observed at ‘The Big Grassroots Conversation’. I listened to people go on at length about how awful and alien the UK has become. I don’t think that comment requires any further explanation. Unless you’ve spent the last five years with your head firmly ensconced in your lower colon, you’ll know exactly what is meant.
What was curious, however, is that none of this often bitterly vehement condemnation of the British state fed into accounts of the preferred Yes campaign strategy. People would rail against everything that is happening in the UK and everything that is in prospect, but when it came to talking about the Yes campaign it was all back to ‘the positive case for independence’. It was like hearing people say, “Here is this massively powerful weapon we have! And here is how we’re going to avoid deploying it!”.
I also saw lots of people crowding around the table where reframing was being discussed. I heard, and continuously hear, Yes activists talking about the importance of reframing. Usually just before they offer some comment or ask a question which puts them at some astronomical distance from the entire concept of reframing. I hear people extoll the potential of reframing the arguments then immediate ask how we should answer the question of what currency Scotland will use. And I want to scream. Because no lessons have been learned.
But that’s because I’m odd.
I’m odd in that I analysed the 2014 campaign differently. I learned important lessons. I came to different conclusions. The very opposite conclusions, in fact. I don’t for one moment suppose that I was the only one to do so. But I can only speak for myself. If others learned the same lessons and came to similar conclusions as myself, I happily acknowledge that they too are odd. Like me, they are the exception to a very general rule. We are a tiny minority. I strongly suspect that each of us feels like a minority of one. A lone voice forlornly trying to make a dent in the armoured certainty of the masses. And increasingly wondering whether it is all worth it.
The issue of the process by which we get to a new constitutional referendum and then conduct it was little discussed at ‘The Big Grassroots Conversation’. at least, not in my hearing. It didn’t come up at all in the Q&A and I was unable to engage anybody in discussion on this topic. Which is not to say they were avoiding such discussion. But it did strike me as strange that something which is such a hot topic elsewhere should be so pointedly off the agenda. As I said at the outset, this may be no more than a personal impression.
The one occasion that I did hear the Section 30 process mentioned is likely to stay with me for some time. I heard the words ‘gold standard’, and cringed just as I always do when I hear such an obviously unworthy and untenable process described in such terms. But the jaw-dropping moment was when I was offered the bland assurance that continued denial of a Section 30 order by the British political elite was ‘unsustainable’.
Unsustainable!? No word about what prevents it from being sustained. No indication of when the evident sustainability would end, or how. Just believe that it is ‘unsustainable’. What a remarkable rationalisation that is for political folly! The demeaning, undignified, sovereignty-denying strategy of requesting a Section 30 order hasn’t worked up until now and shows no sign whatever of working at any point in the foreseeable future, but rest assure there will come a point sometime in the future when it will become ‘unsustainable’, so just put up with being demeaned and having you dignity trashed and your sovereignty compromised until then.
What could make the refusal of a Section 30 order ‘unsustainable’? What conceivable consequences could there be for the British establishment which would force the conclusion that they could no longer persist in refusing to ‘allow’ a new constitutional referendum?
What kind of persistence on the part of the Scottish Government might wear down the resistance of the British state? Will this resistance become unsustainable after five requests? Or ten? Or fifty? Will it be a matter of time? Will the denial of a Section 30 order become ‘unsustainable’ after a further year of waiting? Or five years? Or fifty?
Why would something become unsustainable when there is no cost? It costs the British Prime Minister nothing to say “Now is not the time!”. There is no effort involved. Every British Prime Minister for the next fifty years could repeat that phrase on a daily basis and it would be no more problematic for them at the 15,000th iteration than at the first. So how the hell does it become ‘unsustainable’?
Loss of democratic credibility? Is that it? Is refusal of a Section 30 order going to become ‘unsustainable’ because the British Prime Minister loses democratic credibility as a result? If that was a concern, would it not have been so from the outset? Does the British political elite look to anyone as if it gives a shit about democratic credibility or democratic legitimacy or democratic principles? I simply do not understand how refusal of a Section 30 order could become ‘unsustainable’. Or why anybody would believe it might. Although I can all too easily comprehend why politicians might make such a facile, vacuous claim.
But that’s because I’m odd.
I’m odd because I ask all these questions. Although I’m not quite so odd as to expect sensible answers. Most people don’t ask any questions at all. The individual trying to rationalise the Scottish Government’s commitment to the abominable Section 30 process uses the word ‘unsustainable’ because they know that their audience’s instinct is to agree. To the people in that audience, refusing a Section 30 order already is ‘unsustainable’. It is ‘unsustainable’ by their standards and from their perspective. They are primed to accept that it is ‘unsustainable’, so they won’t ask awkward questions. Unless they’re odd.
Being odd, they will immediately realise that the British state’s standards are not their standards. Being odd, it will occur to them that the perspective of the British political elite is hardly likely to match their own. Being odd, they will hear the claim that denial of a Section 30 order is ‘unsustainable’ and instantly recognise it for what it is – a pile of pish!
The commitment to the Section 30 process is part of the same phenomenon by which people are immovably persuaded the 2014 campaign strategy remains valid and relevant despite the defects and deficiencies and despite the drastically altered circumstances. Everything has changed. But the campaign strategy must not change. If you don’t get the logic of that, it may mean that you are as odd as me. Rejoice!
Ends and means
I’m not sure what term to use to describe what happened after I attended ‘The Big Grassroots Conversation’. Epiphany? Revelation? Realisation? Aye. That. I think realisation is the word. I realised just how odd I am.
It wasn’t just ‘The Big Grassroots Conversation’, of course. It’s just that this was where it happened. It may be what triggered it. The things I heard may have been the prompt for a realisation that had been coming anyway. The circumstances were just right. This may be due to the fact that the Yes Edinburgh & Lothians group invited and attracted such a representative swathe of the independence movement to their event. For which the organisers are to be congratulated. Part of my perception – a very large part and a very strong impression – was that I was listening to the voice of the independence movement in the Nelson Community Halls. As you will have gathered from the foregoing, I was not entirely enamoured of what I heard that voice saying.
Sitting in that hall listening to the voice of Scotland’s independence movement, I realised that I was alone in regarding the Union as an injustice. I was alone in regarding the ending of that injustice as a worthwhile thing in its own right. I was alone in regarding independence as an end in itself because it eliminates a grotesque injustice. I am, it seems, the only person who sees Scotland’s cause in this light.
But that’s because I’m odd.
I should stress again that this was a personal impression. A feeling, if you like. There may have been others in that room who felt the same as myself. I can say only that I saw no evidence of this. There are all but certainly others in the independence movement who share my perspective. But, again, we are a tiny minority. And each one who feels as I do will also feel as alone as I do. As odd.
Is injustice a matter of social consensus? Can an injustice be said to exist if only one person identifies it as such while others simply accept it as the ‘natural order’? If consensus is required, at what point does it kick in? If two people see an injustice and feel its impact – even if others are blithely unaware of it or inured to its effects – does that make it valid as an injustice? If not two, then how many?
Or is injustice an absolute? Do injustices differ only in terms of their impact on people? Is the injustice of slavery the same, in essence, as an injustice that isn’t even noticed or identified as such by the vast majority of people?
Is the elimination of an injustice an end in itself? If it is, then eliminating a relatively trivial injustice must be as much of a moral and ethical imperative as ending an injustice such as slavery. Eliminating injustice must be worthwhile in any instance or circumstances. That is my view. But I am odd.
Of course, an objective being its own end does not preclude it being also the means to other ends. Eliminating the injustice of girls being denied education is an end, not the end. Much else can surely flow from eliminating this injustice. But we would not demand that certain specified things must flow from it as a condition of righting the wrong of denying girls an education.
Thinking as I do, I would never have campaigned to give women the vote, had I been around at that time. I would have campaigned against the vote being withheld from women. I would have campaigned to end the injustice of women being excluded from the franchise. I would have demanded an end to this injustice. And I would have regarded the ending of the injustice as a worthwhile thing in itself. I would not, for example have qualified my demand by insisting on a guarantee that there would never be a Margaret Thatcher as a consequence of enfranchising women.
I was quite taken aback by the vehemence with which the idea of independence as and end in itself was rejected by the independence movement as represented at ‘The Big Grassroots Conversation’. Not that I hadn’t encountered this before. Only that circumstances conspired to bring home to me in a new and forceful way just how much of an oddball I am within the independence ‘family’. Naturally, I wondered why what seemed uncontroversial to me aroused such ire in others.
This essay was never intended to be an exercise in blame or condemnation. That’s why I have chosen to avoid names and other identifiers. But I have long been aware that ‘independence’ is regarded by some as little more than a convenient device by which to market their own ideology and policy agendas. It seems to me that those who reject the idea of independence as an end are motivated by a fear that to acknowledge this would risk their agendas being relegated.
Or it could just be that they genuinely don’t see the Union as being an injustice and, therefore, that they cannot see independence as an end in itself as well as the means to their own ends.
I hold the Union to be a grave and ongoing injustice imposed on the nation and perpetrated upon the people of Scotland. I maintain that the remedying of this injustice is Scotland’s cause, and an entirely worthy aim in its own right – just as is the righting of any wrong and the elimination of any injustice.
What I have now realised is that I am alone in perceiving Scotland’s cause in this way. Or, if not alone, then one among relatively very few. This realisation has quite drastically altered my perspective on the independence movement and my role in it. I have been in the company of people who represent the breadth of the independence movement, and I have felt that I didn’t belong.
I felt that their cause is not my cause. Their motivations are not my motivations. Our aims are only superficially similar. I am now aware of being on the outside looking in. I find that very unsettling.
I was content with being odd. I was resigned to being ineffectual. I’m not sure I can cope well with being irrelevant.
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38 thoughts on “Being odd”
Peter your are certainly not alone.
I will vote for independence even if it makes me poorer. I grew up detesting the union. Why? Because it stole my personal identity. I identify as Scottish not British. I detest when anyone refers to me as a Brit. I detest the fact that any Scot who achieves anything in athletics or cycling or tennis. Has to lose their public identity to suit their masters prejudice.
I detest the union that makes me have a British passport. A union which smothers Scotland and steals it’s unique culture.
Ending the union is why I joined the SNP 30 years ago. Everything else, after independence is up for grabs. In other words independence is what this is about, not politics.
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I don’t think you have worry about Independence making you poorer!
Not odd Peter. And not alone, not in any way.
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Faced with any issue, I try always to use 3 questions: What? How? Why?
An easy example would be to consider smartphones, they all allow you to make phonecalls, send texts etc etc – that is the What. The How is one level up, the number of camera lenses, the GB capacity – all have an effect. Then the Why – why do some choose say the most expensive I-Phone – is it rational, what is the motivation? That is not as well worded as I would want, but I use it to reflect on your comments Peter.
Can we apply those 3 questions to Scotland being independent?
Independence – is that the What!
Section 30 – is that the How?
For me it is the Why which must always be the first word on a blank sheet of paper, only then followed then by the How, and it is only in that sequence that I believe we will succeed in gaining independece for Scotland, and achieve – the What!
Then again, maybe I too am odd?
Section 30 is most certainly NOT the How!
Thanks, I enjoyed this post (‘enjoyed’ might not be right word, forgive me).
If the “movement” is afraid to look its failures in the eye, even now, 5 years later, and therefore has no plan to do something something about them, then for many of us the whole thing will end up being irrelevant.
“…I was quite taken aback by the vehemence with which the idea of independence as and end in itself was rejected by the independence movement as represented at ‘The Big Grassroots Conversation’…”
Indeed. It seems that every other independent nation on the planet may be independent just because it feels the need to be, but Scotland must always – always – justify itself and its desire for independence. Again, Mr Bell, this is the British/English Nationalist/Unionist narrative: make them justify why they want to be independent when we are so kind to them…we could be bashing in their heads for their impertinence…we could be shooting them down like dogs…but we don’t…we humour their vague feelings of injustice because we don’t actually allow them a voice or a say or even the right to set their own agenda on anything much, but tell them what we want them to do at all times…we make sure they hear the odd Scottish accent in Cabinet, but we never ever allow them to do anything even vaguely Scottish…tread the yellow brick road of ‘Britishness’ (Englishness, in reality) or sling your hook back to the caves up there in Jockland.
The lead was set by the SNP after 2014: be all things to all men; never assert your own wants and needs above those of the rUK voters whom we need to ‘persuade’. They were singled out as requiring extra petting and fawning over because they absolutely had nothing to do with scuppering the indyref. Absolutely not…it’s just that we need their votes next time, even though most of them did not vote against independence last time…no, they didn’t. It was a wee boy who did it and ran away. The very thought of just telling them to do one never seems to occur to the SNP. Take independence and see what they do. Declare it and defy them to gainsay it – all of the naysayers, Scottish Unionists, British and English Nationalists alike.
The unwritten and unstated rule is that most of us would never understand something like Scottish independence in its purest sense. Most Scots have no idea of what was actually agreed between the two sovereign, independent nation states of Scotland and England in 1707. If they did, they would be outraged (or perhaps not) that the Union we have was not the union that was agreed. The reason it is not the Union that was agreed in 1706/07 was because that Union was hi-jacked by England, just as everything is hi-jacked by England. If we could just stop reacting to what England does and says and go our own way, we might actually get to independence before the next millennium.
You are not odd, Mr Bell. You are right. Remember how many once believed that the Earth was flat; remember the overwhelming majority who believed that the Sun travelled round the Earth; remember how many believed that the First World War would last till Christmas (1914). Few ever want to put their heads above the parapet because there is comfort in naivety and not facing up to reality. Most operate on hindsight or when enough people actually believe in something do they dare to believe in it themselves. They want a messiah to tell them what to think. Some, very few, actually see what is coming, understand the patterns and can translate them because that is what it is – the ability to translate political patterns. No, you are not alone, although we do not agree on every aspect. I, too, and many others, feel as you do and feel as if we are whistling in the wind. I have become used to ploughing my own furrow, but it is a lonely and isolating option. Earlier, I shed a tear or two at the viciousness of two of the commentators on your ‘Scalp-hunting’ blog who were accusing you and others of being members of the ’77th Brigade’ – or agents provocateur. Sad. Stupid. But, sad. Time alone will vindicate us – or another failed indyref.
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I never accused Peter pf being a member of the 77th Brigade. He is obviously passionate about independence.
Some comments BTL seem to be longer than his blogs though. Almost as if they want to take over his blog, and deflect the reader onto another path. You in particular seem to twist everything into a call for the head of Nicola Sturgeon after every blog post. Your method used to be called ‘concern trolling’, as you praise Peter, then very cleverly shift the agenda.
Not fooling me.
If you believe that, you are a fool, Juteman, easily fooled by your own prejudice. I have no desire to take over Mr Bell’s blog. If I felt that way, I’d start my own. If I take a slightly different tack it is because I see things a little differently. I have been an independence supporter for any a long year – a lot longer than you, I’d bet. Mr Bell’s blog is always very clear and precise, and that is why I like it and why I contribute, but I will never put my name to anything that I do not believe to be the truth or the reality and pretend to believe in something that is an impossible dream if it is handled in the way that it is being handled. I have already told Mr Bell that I am taking a break to do other things, and I think it is up to him to tell me to F off, not you. People like you will be the ruin of Scotland because you are too blind to see what is happening at the end of your nose. Be my guest. As for Nicola Sturgeon, you are wrong. I will support her until I no longer, in all conscience, can. I believe she has been wrong in her approach to independence from 2014 onwards, but I also believe she has been the best FM Scotland has ever had, and we are privileged to have her. I don’t know who invented the word, sheeple, but, right now, it applies with unerring accuracy to many Scots, some of them independence supporters, apparently. The real agents of the state are much closer to the top of the SNP than you imagine, as well as being all around. If you believe I’m one of them, you really are naive and silly. This is real life, Juteman, not a Monty Python sketch. The British State does not need to lift a finger because people like you will do it all for them.
Reblogged this on Ramblings of a 50+ Female.
Please keep on being you, Peter There’s far too many sheep
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Independence is normal. Serfdom is abnormal. We should be asking the unionists why they think Serfdom is normal , desired or healthy.
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You are definitely not alone Peter, although I fear we are in a minority.
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Agree with you completely Peter As an immigrant, dual-national from two independent countries, who’s lived in Scotland for nearly 40 years and loves Scotland more than my original countries, the one aspect of the Scottish psyche I don’t understand is how can any Scot not feel the constant injustice of Scotland’s position in the union? The injustice of the union’s constant undermining of Scotland’s political and social will. Independence after all is normal! It’s a world wide, universal, normal aspiration of people who consider themselves a nation. And though I understand the psychology of the Stockholm syndrome, and the institutionalisation of prisoners who become afraid of being free, I don’t understand how all Scots don’t see that Scotland is a prisoner country, a cash cow, England’s last exploited colony. I do believe a small majority does see this, but it is not enough, not enough…
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I’ll continue to support the SNP so longs I think it’s moving towards independence. It’s like going to the bookies and doing an each-way bet. Find me something better to believe in …
I most definitely support independence. I desperately want to live in an independent Scotland before I peg it.
I hate viscerally what the Conservatives are doing down in Westminster. I want nothing to do with them. Corbyn’s only marginally better. A pox on both Westminster houses.
Am I allowed to think three separate things at the same time?
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I’m not sure it’s possible to get by without thinking at least three separate things at the same time.
I too will continue to support the SNP. I am still a member. I will be at conference next month as a delegate. But Scotland’s cause takes precedence over whatever loyalty I might own to the party. I cannot, in good conscience, refrain from speaking out when I see that cause placed in jeopardy by political folly.
But I tire of it all. I have been calling for a completely fresh approach to the independence campaign for five years now. In that time, Imay have persuaded a handful of people. But the main body of opinion in the SNP and the Yes movement has not shifted so much as one millimeter. The old habits of thinking are too ingrained. Trying to change anything seems like a totally wasted effort.
And it is probably too late anyway. Nicola Sturgeon’s apparently irrevocable commitment to the Section 30 process, coupled with her effectively declaring any alternative ‘illegal’ has probably sealed Scotland’s fate. There’s nothing I can do now. That’s a horrible feeling – helplessness.
I’m odd too.
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Scotland is a country.
The people who live here, the Scots, should run the place.
It is theft to remove that right and responsibility.
The Articles of the Act of Union – and I have read them – do not in any way relegate Scotland to the subservient, dependent position the country now holds.
We do not need to be a nation again.
We are and always have been a nation.
It is as a nation we claim the right to self government.
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We need a positive message, of course we do.
But we also need to try the union.
We need to win over some of the doubters & while Brexit might do some of that for us, we need to point out some realities on pensions, shipbuilding, defence spending, TTIP, UK decline & the uncertainty of remaining in a union which has brought us Thatcher, Boom n Bust, Iraq & Brexit.
Yes Scotland was very poor in rebutting lies & attacking our opponents’ weakness. Point out the inherent unionism of the BBC upfront. Do not allow them the cloak of neutrality, its foolish to pretend we net gain from it.
A more robust approach is needed, with simple messages on the threats Scotland faces.
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Well said Peter. I think there are more people than you think who believe in our country, detest the union and have no difficulty in pointing out the basic unfairness of the system. Perhaps not the type of people who attend these ‘talking shop’ meetings where many go to demonstrate how tolerant and forward thinking they are. I am old… but I desperately want to be that ancient and proud nation again. Don’t give up.
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Strong rumour that Nicola will be going after the Salmond case early next year.
Apparently the evidence will be aired and it will be devastating. She has been linked to a job at the UN.
Might explain the preoccupation with being England’s saviour and the foreign trips. Don’t shoot the messenger though as this stuff is all over twitter. Might be something in it.
Perhaps Indy ref 2 is not her priority? Given the current behaviour I can only suggest the evidence points to this.
Currently we have 30 days till Brexit. Yet Scotland still has nothing more planned than it did 3 years ago.
An utter dereliction of duty.
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Yet another poisonous character asassination from the usual suspect. After it’s shown to be unsubstantiated drivel, will you be back again to apologise? No, didn’t think so. That wouldn’t suit your nefarious purposes.
I wasn’t present at this gathering, Peter, but I’m surprised that you left it with the impression that you’re alone in feeling injustice at the present situation. I have the contrary impression. Sorry, but you’re in no way special about that; everyone in the indy movement (apart from the insidious Iagos) feels it burn just as much, it’s just that some, alas, don’t seem to feel an appropriate sense of urgency in taking maximum advantage of the current unique situation.
But then, it’s not me or you that still needs convincing. Certainly not either the “60%” or whatever other excuse or artificial obstacle is put in the way of acting purposefully, just some “Fingerspitzengefühl” that enough people are now open to persuasion in a full-on campaign that independence is the smart way forward. An exit from the megaguddle and rampant English Nationalism of London, but an exit that is safe and stable.
So we need that full-on campaign. (You may possibly agree. We have been huddled impatiently in a muddy trench far too long.) But we don’t have a choice of offensive, it’s going to be an all-UK election, like it or not. Which still means “Band of Brothers”, etc., not destructive back-stabbing with malice aforethought from the Iagos, whose activity can only benefit our common foe.
And in your case, Peter, if you don’t like the way things appear to be heading, rather than a continual series of depressive Jeremiads as of late, maybe for once offer some positive proposals instead…?
I don’t recall you having quite so much to say when I have offered “positive proposals”.
Thanks for your response below, but your memory seems to be failing you, Peter.The most recent occasion, as I recall, was to commend you for invoking the Precautionary Principle.
Conversely, are you entirely comfortable to be hosting scurrilous and unsubstantiated insinuations that the FM is planning to abandon us and indy for career advancement furth of Scotland?
The line between speculation and rumour-mongering is a fine one. I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt and assume speculation rather than malicious gossip. The speculation about Nicola Sturgeon’s future that I have seen seems not at all unreasonable. It is entirely possible that she may be considering moving on. She is perfectly entitled to do so. I would, of course, be sorry to lose such an excellent leader of party, country and cause. But I was distraught when Alex Salmond stepped down, and quite quickly got over it.
I’m certainly not going to start censoring comments about the possibility of Nicola Sturgeon stepping aside. There is a fund of talent in the SNP and I am confident a perfectly suitable replacement is already in the wings ready to carry on the work she, in her turn, took over from Alex Salmond.
I think the issue you are sensing is so fundamental….
If YES are not starting from what is the new issue/risk now to design the new campaign…..they are going to end up re-running 2014 and lose and lose harder than 2014. Sadly and tragically re-running 2014 now will just lead to cognitive dissonance in those on the fence (rhetoric just won’t match the reality)…That uncertainty will make undecideds pick the Union.
YES NEEDS A PRECISE LANGUAGE AND ATTACK….or you are funked. OMG…YES is funked….totally funked. 3 years have been pished agains the wall – all for “NS has a secret plan”.
Peter, you are definitely not alone, however, most people are unable to express themselves clearly and I do believe a lot of people are flooded with information so they tend to stay in a comfort zone.
I do not think it is too late to influence people.
.I think what is needed is some short clear messages that can be distributed through social media that people can grasp.
(Sorry it is just a fact nowadays few people read long blog posts.)
I mean short messages that explain:
What lessons can be learnt from the 2014 campaign.
What needs to change.
How do we change people’s attitude to the Union and Independence
Why they need to change their thinking.
We just need to keep chipping away to get folk out of the comfort zone.
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I like your thinking. Most of all, I like the fact that you are thinking. So many people seem stuck in old habits of thought. They appear reluctant to let go of ideas that they’ve grown comfortable with. And this is as true of ideas about how the independence campaign should be fought as it is about ideas of how Scotland should regard itself.
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I totally agree with the short, clear message idea.
The Leave campaign with ‘Taking back control’ and Trump with his ‘Make America great again’ worked, even though it was a pile o’ shite.
We need billboards all over the country to reach older voters who may have limited internet access.
Concentrate especially on how poor the UK pension is compared to most of the developed world.
Tell pensioners they will get an extra £50 a week to start with, and actually do it as soon as possible.
I am with you Peter. Whenever independence is questioned, I always reply with, ‘Why do you not want to be independent?’
We will never get another s30 either. When the SNP talk about a gold standard, I become furious. There was no gold standard! There was the complete abandonment by England of the normal purdah rules. Postal votes were counted in England! In the last week we had the 3 amigos and ‘The Vow’. We had wall to wall lies from Brown played constantly by the BBC in the last week. We had Jackie Bird & BBC promising us Devomax!
2014 was the biggest con ever perpetuated on a Scotland. So every time I hear this ‘gold standard’ shite from the SNP, I despair.
Whenever anyone asks ‘What currency?’ We should scream at them. ‘How effin absurd! It doesn’t effin matter a damn what effin currency we have’!
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You have my deepest sympathies Mr. Bell. Even after writting this clear and concise article, as well as ALL the others in the past which explained an other way, you are still receving these comments. You have my deepest sympathys as well as my support.
Most definitely not alone, either in the questioning of strategy or the fundamental reasons for wanting independence.
People don’t speak up because they don’t want to be seen to be rocking the boat.
I endorse Urapps comments about how to try to change the thinking.
Salmond was ready to honour a manifesto commitment when the polls were 27% Yes. Sturgeon is afraid to honour a manifesto commitment until the polls show 60% Yes. A monumental failure of leadership.
I think the general election, if it comes, is the watershed moment. If the SNP get 50+ MPs and don’t move swiftly to call a referendum, and get us out before Scotland suffers massive economic and social damage, it is time Scotland had a new independence party.
There are elements within the Yes campaign and the SNP, who will not take any advice or criticism.
They are fanatics, but not independence fanatics. Fanatics in the sense of believing a higher power is always right, and our leaders should never be questioned. That leads down the path of Labour in Scotland. Where people vote for monkeys as long as they are wearing a red rosette. Eventually that leads to complacency and failure.
I have been in the SNP for 30 years. In those thirty years I have had many disagreements about the role of the Queen , NATO and not enough direct action.
However over the last couple of years I have come to question their strategy on independence. I felt in 2014 they fought a campaign mostly on the back foot. They should have been attacking instead of continually defending. They should also have spent more time on the emotional reason for independence. It’s not about money, economics and left or right. It’s bigger than all of those things. It’s about basic democracy, identity and culture. Why base any independence debate on capital or social policy. Do you think Eire voted for independence because they thought they would be wealthy? The Irish voted for independence because it was in their hearts not their heads.
We need to go out and attack the unionists perceived mandate to hold Scotland in bondage. We need to make the emotional case for independence. Money to me is completely irrelevant.
Who ever voted for independence to get richer?
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Great comment, Jock.
Yes, totally that.
I must admit to being disappointed with how insipid the “‘re framing ” narrative reads as well ( I haven’t attended any of the event’s)
EG the ,section 30 .
As I understand it is not actually permission, it’s an agreement that Westminster wont/can’t legally challenge the referendum result…
It has been framed as permission by Westminster .
I had thought “reframing” would entail pointing out that it’s not Scotland that needs this section 30….. It’s actually Westminster who needs it in place
Westminster being as arcane as it is needs it’s procedures in place or some convention or other will hold the whole thing up and they would be obliged to challenge the result and get to loose twice.
Which in turn would weaken their negotiation position and harden Scotland’s negotiation position.
They are telling us we need something we don’t because it makes their system work better…
Why this hasn’t been pushed into the Indy narrative as soon as the ” now is not the time words were uttered ” is beyond me…. Mibbi I’m odd too,but the reply should have been ” fine if you’re sure Westminster doesn’t really need one we’re ok with that”!
As someone above indicated we should be telling them where to get off with the stupid currency questions too and I’m not adverse to starting the rumours that we’re thinking about pegging to the petro to dollar either….
As to the Campaigners themselves,yes they are now experienced campaigners,and yes, they did brilliantly in bringing the support up and maintaining it,but they do need told to take the gloves off this time round and turn every argument back around to why should we stay!
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I like your comment about Section 30. Not sure it would work. But the idea tickles me.
“…but they do need told to take the gloves off this time round and turn every argument back around to why should we stay…”
The reason why the gloves do not come off is the reason why we are in paralysis. The SNP will not challenge any part of the NO vote. They accepted – erroneously, in my view – that No voters were entitled to vote how they pleased. That part I would agree with. They are not entitled to get a free pass, though, and that was what the SNP gave them. I’m afraid that the smug, wide-eyed adherence to toleration of all things is so misplaced and misguided as to be positively unhinged in the circumstances. No one has the right to prevent the march of a people to independence. No one. That is written in the UN Charter, and I should imagine there comes a point when refusing even to allow them a return to the subject must become an infringement of their human rights. Does anyone say that? No. Oh, just go voting against everything, dear, because it’s your right, you know. No, it bloody well isn’t. It’s a shameful, immoral action that reeks of disgusting colonialism. That’s what we should be telling them.
Positively my last comment here, Mr Bell.
I agree with you. If that makes me odd, so be it.
Brexit means we are facing the biggest crisis since WW2 – not to face that, deal with that, and talk about that, and instead campaign with a clappy, happy 2014 yes message, is naively out of touch and would be seen to be so. Not that there is any campaign as such.
Better Together campaigned on a ration of 2 parts fear: 1 part positive (UK joint history, NHS, WW1 and 2, etc).
Brexit gives us a perfect reason to ‘borrow’ that ration and technique. With the positive that the danger is real.
It is clear now that a Section ‘fools gold’ 30 would not be honoured. WM is currently trashing the Good Friday international Peace Treaty. To pursue something that would not be worth the paper it is written on, rather than get the people of Scotland to the polling booth on time. It is clearly madness.
We cannot now hold a GE or a Ref before 31/10/19 and the only thing between us and a no deal brexit is boris – since the ‘opposition’ have declined to go for a VONC (which is hardly surprising since all apart from the SNP are likely to loose big time).
Once out of the EU on 31/10/19 I see no protection from WM shutting down Holyrood.
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