Our First Minister’s stubborn insistence on abiding by the British state’s rules combined with the British Prime Minister’s unsurprising but equally obdurate determination to use those same rules for their true purpose of preserving the Union has provoked extraordinary levels of frustration among independence supporters. Which frustration has, in turn, led to the development of myriad schemes for taking Scotland cause forward despite these twin obstacles. Some of these schemes are more imaginative than others.
Without commenting on the extent to which any of these cunning plans depart the realm of realism, they share a flaw in that it is not possible to fit the timeframe of their execution within the timeframe of the British state’s less subtle but more evidently effective project to make permanent the Union which we seek to dissolve.
In order to seriously consider the idea of using entryism to change the policy position of the British parties in Scotland on the constitutional issue, we must first be convinced of the feasibility of persuading the leopard to abandon its British Nationalist Union Jack spots in favour of a fetching outfit in Scottish nationalist tartan.
We must then accept that it might be possible to fit the camel of a timescale defined by party policy development procedures through the needle’s eye of a timescale that can be whatever the British state wants or needs it to be.
The Yes movement may be regarded as having fully matured when we stop trying to devise fanciful schemes for going over under or around the reality of Scotland’s relative powerlessness within the Union and focus our energies on driving our cause right through the barriers to democracy inherent in the Union using the tools we already have – the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament and the Yes movement.
The limits of the human imagination have barely been tested. I don’t doubt the ability of independence supporters to devise a near-infinite list of schemes by which Scotland’s independence might be restored. I seriously doubt whether there is more than one way in which this can actually be achieved. Once we leave the distractions and diversions behind and start discussing the finer details of the ultimate solution then we can be said to be making progress rather than running on the spot hoping the terrain might spontaneously become more conducive to the final sprint.
I don’t doubt the good intentions of those who seek routes to independence through the courts or through the intervention of some external agency or through a conveniently dramatic transformation of the British political landscape. But they are asking the wrong questions if they’re asking how the rules devised for the protection of the Union can be forged into a tool by which the Union can be broken. And they are addressing the wrong issue if they are considering ways to weaken the imperative which drives the British state’s efforts to lock Scotland into a political union with England-as-Britain which formalises Scotland’s annexation.
My own cunning plan involves deciding on the things that would define Scotland as an independent nation and then devising ways of seizing these things against and despite the determined opposition of the British political elite and the entire British establishment. Start from where we want to be and work backwards to where we are discovering the steps which comprise this path.
Ultimately, the restoration of Scotland’s independence requires the dissolution of the Union. Ask how this can be achieved. Ask what must be the final step taking us to this destination. Ask how we got to that place. The answers to this series of questions within the context of a severely restricted time-frame, will be our route to independence.
I’m sorry, Craig, but your entryism scheme isn’t an answer to any of the pertinent questions.
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