Telling it how it isn’t

I’m sure readers of The National are obliged to Angus Robertson for pointing out that “Scotland’s future is currently not in the hands of the people in Scotland”. We should all be grateful to him for reminding us that “Our future is being determined by people we did not vote for and [who] do not care about majority opinion in Scotland”. Where would we be without such inspired insights?

Did Mr Robertson suppose he might shock us with these revelations? Does he imagine we are unaware of Scotland’s status as part of the British state? Or could it be that he reckons we need to be reminded? If the latter, he may have a point. Perhaps he wasn’t being offensively patronising after all. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

We need to be reminded because we, the lumpen proletariat, so quickly come to accept our lot. Present us with a new reality and we’ll be wearing it like a favourite old cardigan in no time at all. It’s an adaptive trait. Being powerless to influence our reality we either adjust to it with alacrity or suffer the stress of being confronted with our powerlessness. However immediately discomfiting each new reality may be, and however frequently that imposed reality may change, we pride ourselves on our capacity to be unmoved while moving on.

Being moved to offence or anger by a newly inflicted reality is perceived to be a sign of weakness. Objecting to the new reality reveals a shameful inability to perform the emotional and intellectual contortions demanded of those who live in the ‘real world’. Refusing to accept circumstances as they have been created for us is the mark of the dangerous radical. The misfit – in the truest sense of that term.

There is no more subversive idea than that the purpose of all civic organisation and political effort should be to create a society that is fit for people, rather than people who will fit themselves to whatever form of society is presented to them by those with the power to shape it for their own narrow purposes.

Politicians, and the forces behind them, are very well aware of how readily the populace adjusts to each new reality. Techniques have been devised which take advantage of this malleability. The techniques are familiar to most of us. So familiar we rarely notice their use on us. Which is part of the technique. We all know, for example, that among the most favoured of weapons in established power’s armoury is ‘divide and rule’ – the use of social fragmentation and alienation and demotivation to preempt and neutralise the countervailing power of popular combination.

If there is strength in solidarity then there is power in division.

But it doesn’t matter that we know about ‘divide and rule’; how it works; and what it does. The fact that people generally are aware of the concept makes them no less susceptible to the technique. Because social fragmentation and alienation and demotivation are all abiding characteristics of the reality to which we have become inured. We either don’t perceive it as affecting us, or we don’t regard it as something we can avoid.

What can’t be cured must be endured.

Then there is the ‘fait accompli’. The ‘done deal’. It’s happened! It’s pointless trying to change it! We can’t go back! We have to move on! Move on!

The technique is to effect change in small increments, allowing people to grow accustomed to each small change before moving on to the next. Using the power of the media, the changes can be portrayed as too trivial to make a fuss about. Resistance to these minor alterations can be made to seem like aberrant over-reaction. Talk of incremental change can be dismissed as ‘conspiracy theory’ madness.

This is ‘boiled frog syndrome’. We are all frogs. We are all being boiled.

Related to this is the technique of ‘dragging and spreading’. Drag something out long enough and it becomes easier to alter perceptions of it. Last week’s outrageous behaviour is next week’s minor mischief. Wallpaper people’s lives with something and it becomes too commonplace to provoke any strong emotion. Public anger is diluted by time and familiarity.

Last on this far from comprehensive list of techniques by which we are manipulated into meekly accepting our fate is the ‘on-off’ and its cousin the ‘natural process’. Catastrophes are portrayed as singular, discrete events unconnected to anything else. Thus, the system which has produced the catastrophe remains invisible. And should the system become visible, it is presented as a natural process.

You fight the natural law, and the natural law wins.

So maybe Angus Robertson is right to remind us of the fact that “Scotland’s future is currently not in the hands of the people in Scotland”. Maybe we need to be reminded. Maybe it doesn’t matter that we heard the same thing last week and the week before and the week before that. Maybe we need to be constantly reawakened to the reality of Scotland’s predicament.

Except that it has the opposite effect. The warnings themselves, however dire they may be and however portentous the rhetoric in which they are couched, become part of the political furniture. They become a mundane part of our mundane reality.

What may not be perceived is that, while the warnings remain constant, the situation to which they relate is changing. Indeed, the repetitious nature of the warnings may serve to mask the fact that the situation is worsening rapidly. Rote phrases such as those wearisomely recited by Angus Robertson are habitual – almost ritualistic. It’s just what you say on these occasions if you’re an SNP politician or spokesperson. The words long since ceased to relate to or reflect the circumstances to which they refer.

That “Scotland’s future is currently not in the hands of the people in Scotland” is a truism. A 312-year old truism. A truism so often repeated as to have taken on the character of a banality. It fails even to adequately convey the incontrovertible fact which it states. It is inadequate to the task of communicating the appalling injustice of the Union. It doesn’t provide any impactful sense of the reality to which we are being habituated.

It says nothing of the future that is now promised to Scotland by the Union. It tells nothing of how that future has darkened under the pall of looming ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism. It speaks of Scotland’s future as if that term refers to the same thing now as it did the very first time anyone thought to point out how it was threatened by the Union. It neither takes nor gives any account of how Scotland’s prospects as part of the UK have worsened massively over the past decade. Nor how those prospects continue to worsen at an accelerating pace.

The trite gobbet of politician-speak proffered by Angus Robertson utterly fails to get across the fact that what once was “not in the hands of the people in Scotland” is even less within our control now. It doesn’t show the situation as deteriorating, It doesn’t help us see that our control is diminishing. It gives no indication of the real and imminent threat to the institutions and processes of democracy which function as the “hands of the people in Scotland”.

Why not? Why the restraint? Why the reluctance to spell out the truth? Why are SNP politicians not shouting from the rooftops about what is happening to our nation, and what is inevitably going to happen if our elected representatives do not immediately act to prevent it? Where is the urgency?

If the SNP can’t do better than redundantly point out how awful everything is, then they might at least have the courage to say how really awful it really is.

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12 thoughts on “Telling it how it isn’t

  1. I think this is probably one of the best pieces you’ve written. I’m certain it will chime with the vast majority who read it. I honestly didn’t think the SNP would allow itself to be trapped by its own inertia. But it has…NS’s promises at the Conference seems now to be a panic measure to assure the restless natives that really, we’ve got this under control. But the more articles like this one from Blackford, the more I realise they haven’t. They’ve been outsmarted or faced down at every turn, and so resort to cliche. It’s worked before, so . . .etc etc.
    The party has governed Scotland well, better than any of the other 3 countries in the UK have done. That truly is commendable, but is no less that I would expect from any decent party in govt. Me and my family voted SNP to help gain independence. I suggested to my MP that perhaps he was becoming complacent in his well paid job. He went ballistic. I thought he did protest too much. (McKenna today says it much better than I can).

    Liked by 4 people

  2. That is the story of Scots summed up. The boiled frogs.

    We get angry for a while and then reach despondency. Uch well nothing we can do ,is the cry. We need to move on , come together. Shut up and take our medicine.

    The other ones say it can’t be that bad. It’s all scaremongering. Surely England wouldn’t take away our human rights, workers rights or shut our parliament.

    Well they can and they will!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yes – remember the polls saying 53% would support Independence if Boris is elected PM. Now he has been elected PM support for Independence sits at 50%. Go figure.

    The same will happen with Brexit. The thought of it will make some people kneejerk to say they would support Independence but once it happens and they get used to it, well, why bother?

    I am sick of hearing Sturgeon saying she has campaigned for Independence all her adult life. She has not lifted a finger to campaign for Independence since September 18 2014. All she and her husband have done since then is try to shut down and discredit anyone who dares step into the void they have left. It is utterly shameful.

    Support for Independence will only budge significantly and, more importantly, permanently on the back of a concerted campaign. That is what the SNP should have been doing alongside all this so-called governing they seem to making an increasing hash of.

    5 totally wasted years – all of them under the leadership of Sturgeon and she stands on the brink of having absolutely nothing to show for it. No wonder the rhetoric is being cranked up.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Salute for this. It’s absolutely 100% correct. Sometimes people just need to take a hundred steps back and look at the bigger picture over the longer time period. Scotland is being systematically smothered by a laughing, psychopathic Westchimpster, and the SNP don’t seem to either notice this, or are powerless, due to lack of visionary leadership and wackjob identity politics division, to acknowledge and combat this.

    Holyrood will soon be a casualty of their sixth-year-high-school-level political complacency. Your kind of outside-the-box thinking and writing is very much needed, especially when so concise, and clearly anger-motivated, as this. Somebody needs to get the weans telt what time it is. Write on. Things are coming to some sort of eternal head. And not before fucking time. Sick of it all.


  5. Do you think that Angus Robertson is only talking to you? I pass my National newspaper on to people who don’t have a clue about what’s going on. They don’t normally read political articles, don’t watch political programmes and are turned off by elements of the news. Reading the National, at my bequest, has been real an eye-opener for them. Maybe you’d rather we did away with that newspaper too and all just listen to you? One of the Unionists favourite bloggers, blogging away in line with the right-wing newspapers.


    1. I have to disagree.
      The fact is, next to everyone knows Scotland is totally ignored by Westminster.
      They don’t need “The National”, or anyone else to remind them.
      The only folks who see it differently, are certain pro Union politicians, and perhaps, those fanatical pro Union voters.
      And today, in House of Commons, in London, we see it glaringly.
      We see the Prime Minister of United Kingdom, openly defy the Court of Session. He told MPs he was not Legally bound, to continue within EU,.
      Despite him having telling told very Court, he would honor he Law.
      The fact is, the SNP has left many of us disillusioned, with their apparent capitulation the London regime.
      We have every right, to speak out against this present incomprehensible policy path of SNP.
      We do not see it leading Scotland to anywhere.


  6. Well I don’t agree with you Gordon when you say that, “next to everyone knows that Scotland is totally ignored by Westminster.” I’ve met not just hundreds of people, who don’t have a clue, but nigh on thousands now, since 2014, through knocking on doors and more so through my work (mostly with elderly people) that’s carried out the length and breadth of Scotland.

    “They don’t need the National or anyone else to remind them.” So are you saying, that the National should just stop reporting the latest news if it concurs with the status quo as WE know it? Or maybe you reckon that we don’t need the National at all because we Scots are so knowledgeable.

    And do you really think that the people that I’m talking about saw anything glaringly obvious yesterday? Were they following the Commons shenanigans like you and I? More than likely they were washing their cars, in the garden or out shopping, so hey missed it all. As they no doubt do, day after day … month after month, etc, etc. Many of them also read Unionist newspapers or watch BBC news. What do you reckon that they get from doing that? Learn that Westminster is ignoring Scotland? Know that the Tories walked out of the Commons, enmasse, yesterday when J Cherry rose to her feet? Or read and hear about the same SNP Baadness as we read on here?

    And by the way, I’m not one bit surprised that you feel so disillusioned, Gordon. I would too if I’d to believe even half of what you read on blogs such as this. “The SNP capitulating to the London regime.” If this wasn’t so serious, you weren’t being so serious, I’d be laughing my head off. Thank God Indyref2 will be held next year and put an end to this. Put so many out of their misery and in some cases put some propagandists out of a job.


    1. No one is saying “THE NATIONAL” is not doing us a favor with its expose of the UK Establishment. But even for those who wash their cars, rather than pay attention to politics, I am pretty sure, most of those folks also do know, Scotland is being ignored by Westminster.
      Many of the Labour voters in Scotland, for example, knew that, Labour politicians in Scotland told them as much, for long enough.The Daily Record tabloid never lets go a moment to remind hem, too.

      What some of us are complaining about here, is not that SNP figures like Angus Robertson repeat this fact, but that they are doing nothing about it. Just like the Labour politicians during the Thatcher years before them, did nothing,but complain plenty, this and that was unacceptable. This and that was an outrage, etc, etc.
      But of course, they were for the Union, and so could do nothing useful against all those policies they disagreed with so much, that was causing such destruction in our country.

      SNP has been capitulating to London over a range of issues.
      Allowing a lot to take place, while saying there is nothing they can do. We see that with regards Social Security policy most especially.Reserved matters, true, but ones that could have, and should have been challenged more forcefully.
      Also, this asking “permission” of London for Section 30, is the most notable example
      Waiting until next year for an Independence Vote, is actually another example.
      Why wait ’till then?
      We should have been Independent by now, while still within EU. Not wait until we are no longer in EU, or wait, and wait further, while UK possibly has another EU Referendum.
      So long as SNP leadership play this waiting game, the more it will be negative for Scotland.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. If the Indy campaign can’t get a fairer exposure on TV then nothing will change. Why the SNP are not complaining long and loud for pro Indy views to get equal time on the box beats me.


  8. Petra, in paragraph 3 of your second comment you do Peter justice by promulgating the very point he is making and by so doing you encapsulate and endorse, albeit unwittingly, the very basis of his concern.


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