Realism and honesty

When I saw the headline Nicola Sturgeon lists demands to Jeremy Corbyn the first word to pop into my head was ‘why’. Why is Nicola Sturgeon making demands of the leader of the British Labour Party? He has no power to deliver on any of those demands. More to the point, he is very unlikely ever to have such power. Recent polling indicates the most likely outcome of the UK general election is a Conservative majority government at Westminster. The British Labour vote looks a lot more like “crumbling” than the British political elite’s determination to prevent a new independence referendum.

The polls can be wrong, of course. But even supposing British Labour did pull of an electoral miracle, the reality is any minority British Labour government that wanted to deliver any of its policies and sustain itself in government would do anything rather than rely on the support of the SNP. The imperative to preserve the Union transcends ideological differences and partisan rivalries that are, in any case, mostly theatrical. We know as a matter of absolute fact that the British parties will collude to thwart Scotland’s independence movement. We know this because they have done so in the recent past.

In theory, the SNP would have “significant influence and significant power” over a minority British Labour government. In practice, even the Tories would contrive to come to their aid if this was what was required to protect their “precious” Union. And the same is true of the Liberal Democrats – who may also have “significant influence and significant power” in the event of a minority government under Jeremy Corbyn.

Nicola Sturgeon observes that,

Jeremy Corbyn is somebody who supports self-determination for literally every other country in the world, it would be quite strange if he didn’t support it for Scotland.

No it wouldn’t! It wouldn’t be strange at all. In the context of British politics, duplicity, hypocrisy and mendacity are perfectly normal. It’s what we expect.

The British Labour Party has been as slippery on the matter of a new independence referendum as on many other issues. Nicola Sturgeon chooses to see this vacillation as opposition to a new referendum “crumbling before our eyes”. But it is at least as likely to be nothing more than reluctance to be as explicit about such opposition as the other British parties. A feeble effort to find a distinct position on the issue. A forlorn attempt to appeal to independence supporting traditional British Labour voters in Scotland whilst avoiding heaping further humiliation on the local chap up there – what’s his name? – Richard something?

But why are we even talking about deals with British Labour when, if the polls are anything like accurate, Nicola Sturgeon will be facing a triumphant Boris Johnson on 13 December? What is her thinking about that scenario?

… this election is a great opportunity for us to show Boris Johnson exactly what we think of such a contemptuous and disrespectful attitude towards Scottish democracy.

Undoubtedly, it is. And undoubtedly we should. We most assuredly must use this election to demonstrate our rejection of imposed British governments and our determination to defend Scotland’s democracy. But let us not be under any illusions! If Boris Johnson – and British politicians in general – are as contemptuous of Scottish democracy as Nicola Sturgeon says, why would they be at all concerned about any message the people of Scotland send via the ballot box?

Nicola Sturgeon says,

… the position Boris Johnson articulated yesterday is not a sensible, serious or sustainable position – that he will block Scottish democracy forever and a day.

As with the comment about Jeremy Corbyn’s support for self-determination above, this fails to recognise the nature of British politics. A position doesn’t have to be “sensible” or “serious” to be totally “sustainable” in the context of British politics. Look at the Mad Brexiteers! If ever there was a position that defied logic and rationality it is the determination to take the UK out of the EU in the absence of any compelling reason; any viable plan; and any credible alternative. For all the self-evident insanity of Brexit, it is happening. An insane position has proven to be perfectly sustainable.

Boris Johnson is not going to back down in the face of Scottish public opinion. There is no reason why he would. The polls suggest a majority approaching 100. With such a majority, he can pretty much do as he pleases. He may well contrive a no-deal Brexit. He will certainly dismiss Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for a Section 30 order.

Nicola Sturgeon notes that,

Nothing Boris Johnson has said in his short time as Prime Minister has turned out to be the case, so perhaps that should give us all hope for the future.

I note that, despite what must be the most disastrous premiership ever, Boris Johnson is still there. The malicious child-clown hasn’t been harmed at all by all those defeats in the House of Commons and the courts. He has come unscathed through numerous scandals. He lies with total impunity. So perhaps that should bid us despair for the future.

This is not intended as an attack on Nicola Sturgeon. Although it will inevitably be portrayed as such by those who have nothing more meaningful to say. All I’m doing is attempting to inject a bit of political reality into the discourse. And, maybe, a bit of honesty into the election campaign.

Asked if she would compromise on the timing of the new independence referendum in order to strike a deal with the British Labour minority government that almost certainly isn’t going to be more than hypothetical, Nicola Sturgeon responded saying that the timescale is “not for Westminster politicians to determine”. The reality is that the Section 30 process to which she has committed means that Westminster politicians can determine the timescale. Committing to the Section 30 process puts that power in the hands of those Westminster politicians. They can drag out negotiations on Edinburgh Agreement 2 for as long as they wish. And even as those negotiations are laboriously conducted, they can implement all manner of measures to hinder or prevent the referendum.

That is the reality. And I see no reason why we should not be honest about it. All it does is prove, as if further proof were needed, that the Union is disastrously detrimental to Scotland. It makes voting for the SNP in this election even more clearly an absolute imperative. Because, bad as the reality may be with a massive vote for the SNP, it will be many times worse without it.

By voting SNP in this UK general election and sending 50+ SNP MPs to Westminster, we at least keep our options open. When reality hits and the fantasy of British goodwill, good grace and good faith evaporates, only such an expression of our determination to defend Scotland’s democracy will sustain Scotland’s cause. It may seem horribly ironic, but is only by voting SNP that we can be prepared for whatever happens when the Section 30 process fails.

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8 thoughts on “Realism and honesty

  1. Peter I don’t know what skills you have, however I’m sure that you’re not a mind reader. Not Nicola Sturgeon’s mind reader. Who knows what she’s thinking about or planning to do? Not you for sure or I. Maybe she’s playing them at their own game? Pushing the link with Corbyn, mentioning the removal of Trident etc, to scupper his chances of winning? After all if he depends on the SNP to support him, proffers an S30O in return, we win and walk away he’s lost his majority support. Obnoxious Boris as PM, with his hellish Brexit plans and of course no chance of a people’s vote, would result in even more sovereign Scots demanding Independence. And let’s not forget that it was Tory David Maxwell Fyfe (Scot), Lord High Chancellor, that under Churchill’s auspice included in the EC on Human Rights that a country should have free elections at least every five years to vote for the government of their choosing. Have a right to self determination. Would Johnston really be willing to be dragged down that route? As a mind reader maybe you’ll know the answer to that one?,_1st_Earl_of_Kilmuir


  2. The points you make are fairly obvious, so I find it hard to credit Nicola Sturgeon with the level of stupidity you seem to ascribe to her, Peter. My guess is that she is thinking along the lines touched on in your last paragraph, that it is only after all hopes the reluctant PSBs have for a possible preferable alternative are dashed that majority support for independence will finally be realised.

    That might or might not include the S.30 thing. In your understandable impatience, you are premature in dismissing it out of hand, since an outright refusal is a constitutionally-risky step to take, even for a chancer like BoJo, and politically risky also since it would drive a final stake through the heart of any notion that we are “equals” in this “voluntary” union. Maybe even this gross breach of trust would be necessary to change minds, but if so, you have to wonder why there is a BritNat goalpost-moving exercise underway over IR2, question re-wording and all. The Unionists themselves don’t seem to share your opinion over the likelihood of a new indyref sometime next year.

    This is a game of high-stakes poker, and one should always keep in mind an old NE saying, which translated from the Doric says “fools and children shouldn’t see things half-completed”.


    1. What makes outright refusal of a Section 30 ‘demand’ a “constitutionally-risky step”? Or a “politically risky” one? You, and others, make these assertions, but leave them empty. What does it cost the British Prime Minister to refuse a Section 30 order?

      Why is it we always seem to need one more iniquity to “drive a final stake through the heart of any notion that we are “equals” in this “voluntary” union”? Why is it always the next breach of trust that will change minds?

      The “goalpost-moving” exercise regarding the question is very easily explained without resorting to an otherwise unsupportable belief that the British political elite is resigned to a new independence referendum happening next year. The entire British establishment is mobilised to prevent that referendum ever happening. Each will contribute to that effort as they are best able. To follow your supposition to its logical conclusion any effort to block the referendum would have to be regarded as a tacit admission that all effort was forlorn.

      The thing about poker is that all hands are knowable. There are only 52 cards in the pack, and a finite number of winning combinations. Your metaphor only works if players are able to create their own cards.

      What you are doing is working backwards from a desired outcome. That’s more wishful thinking than political analysis.


  3. What a bunch of stupid people you attract Peter , people who still think Nicola has a clever plan. The same people have probably been saying that for the last 5 years in which she obviously has not has a clever plan. I know a double glazing salesman who would love to talk to these people

    Liked by 1 person

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