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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18 thoughts on “Many schemes. Little time.”
I agree that working backwards from where we want to be is about right. But I have little hope that independence can be arranged within the next two years or so. I feel we are at the mercy of events now, having thrown away a number of seriously useful opportunities.
Be that as it may, it too had an idea that might I though, assist in the general movement. I wrote a letter to the paper about and tried to share it for discussion at a group on the Facebook purporting to be a forum for discussion of where to go now, and which appears to be dominated by followers of Mr Sherridan.
My letter to the paper was not published and the post on Facebook has not been approved by the group’s moderators. Which strikes me as quite interesting in itself. It was just an idea. With your indulgence, I reproduce the letter to the paper here.
In light of ongoing changes in political positioning, I would like to express my support for the setting up of a new political party. This I would propose to call the Scottish Independents Party – a name easily confused perhaps with a Scottish Independence Party, but this would not matter, certainly not as much as the difference between nationalist and national.
I envisage this new party to be less centralised than traditional parties, more of an agreement to work together among those who would stand in elections as independents.
I do not see any reason why such a party could not stand candidates in both constituencies and on the list. Indeed, independent candidates could stand as independents and then align themselves with the SIP thereafter.
Nor do I believe it would be any threat to the SNP, to its position in government, or to the independence movement more generally; rather I see the SIP as a complement to the SNP and even a relief from a degree of pressure from hostile forces. Primarily it would be a place for those who believe passionately and without reserve in Scottish independence, but who are dissatisfied for whatever reason with the party system.
It has been said that unifying the independence movement behind the SNP has been an error of strategy. Perhaps. Perhaps not. History will judge. Though I believe the SNP will always have its place, but the time has come for something new, working alongside what we already have, celebrating the diversity of the movement.
All SIP business could be conducted in secure online spaces, where there are already many connections with assorted autonomous independence supporting groups and independent writers, thinkers and strategists.
I would be very interested to communicate with anybody interested in such a project.
It was just a thought.
Let’s start with the problem that stops this in its tracks before it even starts. There is not the faintest chance of gaining Electoral Commission approval for a party name which could possibly be confused with another party. You may think this of no importance. But I assure you the EC takes such things very seriously.
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Is the Scottish Independents Party so close to the Scottish National Party? Or is there a Scottish Independence Party already out there?
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Thanks Peter. That would rather put the boot in to that idea. Maybe I can persuade them to change the name 🙂
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I too would also like to see a new Party of Independence, and would be more consider committing to it, if it is a half decent group.
I would have another, easier to use name, however, hat is easier and simpler, and straight to the point.
and one doesn’t clash with SNP, name, or any other existing groups.
However as you say, it doesn’t have to be, and shouldn’t be seen as anti SNP, but different, and a different outlook. But be practical too, and with proper policies, etc, on a range of things, to make it attractive to voters..
The Greens are proving themselves to be a bit of hindrance, and their insane campaign against road improvements in places where roads must be improved,or even new roads were necessary, is not helping things.
I don’t think, however, you can have a new Party, that is as loosely organized, and online only, as you suggest. For any such group to be effective, there must be some kind of proper central structure with someone in charge.
Simply asking folks to stand at elections as “Independents” with no official party affiliation will get most candidates nowhere. That would be a waste of time in most areas. Voters would easily be confused.
Something more concrete and structured with a particular vision, is what is needed.
But a political Party where not following London rules, is of course the main difference from SNP.
The problem we had until recently, being that most of us didn’t want to split the Independence vote. And that was clearly the case in the December General Election. There was no possibility of having another pro Independence block in 2019, at that time, without doing just that. but also, most of were hoping there would be no need for any new pro Independence grouping, but alas………
We now know we have a certain timescale to set up such an new organization in time for the Scottish Parliamentary elections next year, regardless of what path SNP decide to take.
One would have expected such a new political group to emerge in due course with Independence anyway, but as things stand, I think we need this now. If for nothing else, to help galvanize SNP into more action om Independence, than we are seeing presently.
For it is clear, none in the SNP leadership, are going to change their minds in the near future.We would love to proven wrong, but it seems unlikely.
Besides, Scotland cannot afford to wait around for them to change.
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It would hardly be possible to think of a worse idea than splitting the pro-independence vote.
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A succinct, I find, summary of where the SNP and the wider ‘Yes’ movement stand at present with regard to the fight for independence for Scotland.
As the Author and Mr Bell write, Westminster will not allow Scotland’s independence via any Westminster mechanism. It will be up to the ‘Yes’ movement to galvanize the people to request that the SNP dissolve the Union with England.
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There exists a ‘Scotland’s Independence Referendum Party’
perhaps others could contribute any other similar that they know of?
If you go to the website of The Electoral Commission
page “View current applications”
and scroll down to the section
“Date we published the following notices 21 January 2020”
One can find notice of the application for recognition of
“Independent Scotland Party”
Part of the UK that this application applies to: Scotland
Proposed name: Independent Scotland Party
The SG could simply refuse that Scotland be taken out of the EU by force (the end of 2020 will see us enter the negotiations stage) and refuse to allow our powers to be usurped by the UKG. By placing a case against England-as-the-UK in the ICJ, making it absolutely plain that we will not abide by any negotiations carried out in our name and/or using our powers, that we would seek to repudiate any deals done in our name without our sanction, and trumpeting that world-wide, we would be half-way there. There is nothing illegal in seeking to resile the Treaty.
There is no way we can win anything under the gaze of the UKG: it must be taken out of their hands and out of the hands of the domestic courts. The only reason that Joanna Cherry won against Johnson and the UKG in the UKSC was because the UKG was acting illegally – and patently acting illegally. For any court to rule down an illegal act would be insupportable and wreck all faith in British justice. Similarly, for the iCJ/UN to take England-as-the-Uk’s part without diue process of law would ruin any hope that any smaller nation might have that the UN will offer its support in times off need.
The Chagos Islanders’ dilemma has been duly noted by the UN and the ruling handed down that the UK must vacate Diego Garcia and hand it back to the Islanders. Likewise, the UN has repeatedly condemned Israel for its taking of Palestinian land against UN sanction. Both the UK and Israel are behaving like rogue states, and, without American backing, neither would be able to do what they do. I cannot see how placing a case before the ICJ and the UN will make our situation any worse, and it might just make it better. To not even consider this route because it might take a wee while is to repudiate the only legal route we have that does not require a majority. How long does anyone contemplate a second indyref will take after the 2021 election, assuming that we win it? A year? Two? Three? Five? Ten? Fifty? Meanwhile, what will be happening? Won’t be be cemented into the Tory One Nation State? I have to keep asking? Why the obsession with aa second indyref that is not even necessary in International law or in domestic law? No one seems willing to answer that question, and I believe it is because the only answer that can be offered is the very reason we are in this mess in the first place – trying to pander to the very worst instincts of the assorted Scottish Unionists, British and English Nationalists in our midst. We ddid that once and look where it got us. Circumventing their malign influence is not undemocratic: it is the only sane thing we can do now.
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I watched last night on YouTube an interview of Gerry Adams by Peter Taylor in the 1980s. What struck me as I enter middle age is how articulate, astute, clever and cognisant Gerry Adam’s actually appeared compared to the Thatcherite parodic character the BBC presented during my formative years.
Gerry Adam’s articulations were considered, moderate, measured and prophetic. He expressed the opinion that the issue that confronted and continues to confront Ireland in the 1980s and today no doubt ..was and is the continued British interference in Ireland as if she were a British colony with the concomitant schism in the population. Rather surprisingly, at least to me, given the propaganda we have been subject to, is that Gerry Adam’s articulated the view that he regarded the people of Northern Ireland, regardless of religion, as unitary and that the divisions within the country have artificially created, fomented and propagated.
The interview is worth watching to see what we are up against…
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The history of the Irish Question is that, when Ireland gained its Free Irish State status, the Protestants (English and Scottish settlers) demanded that the six Counties be retained to Britain. A bitter civil war between North and South would have taken place then, and the Republicans under De Valera believed that it should have been fought at that point. Life is full of ‘what ifs’, but had the South defeated the North, there would have been a wholesale return of NI migrants to Scotland, mainly, and England, and Ireland would have remained one country.
Truth be told, the British government did not actually want the Six Counties because they would always be a bone of contention – and how right they were. At various times throughout the 20th century, they did try to off-load NI, but on each occasion the South repudiated any such deal, also being of the opinion that NI was a poisoned chalice. Re-unification will have to come with the consent and co-operation of the Protestants (who were never persecuted in Eire as the Catholics were in the Six Counties, quite the opposite), and I believe it will come eventually, with those opposed uprooting and returning to their original roots. For Scotland, this would be disastrous. Hundreds of thousands of avowed British Nationalists descending on a Scotland trying to gain its independence and end the Union would be akin to political suicide for those who want independence. That is the hard truth.
The other hard truth which few, even on this blog, will admit to, if, indeed, they see the contradiction, is that, to insist on a second indyref that is not necessary and certainly far from expedient or even sane, given that the first was lost through the knee jerk prejudices of “New Scots”, when a perfectly legal and democratic (resiling, ending the Union and holding a ratifying referendum) option exists in the shape of theTreaty is suicidal. A second indyref will not be won even if, by remote chance, it comes about; of that I am quite convinced. So many in the independence movement do not see why we are essential to the post Brexit Tory One Nation State. It has everything to do with colonialism and nothing to do with our rights. It is wholly English, with sycophantic and me-ist Scots tacked on. Therein lies the rub.
As in NI, we have pandered to those who are ‘New Scots’ and those who are me-ist sycophants, to the feart and to the malign, giving little thought to the longer-term consequences. Like the Irish Republicans, we will save ourselves a lot of pain and bother later if we bring the fight to them now and challenge them to try and partition our country along ethnic lines – because, folks, that is what it will come down to eventually, believe me, and we will be on the losing side. Five million against 55 million. Think about that, and think about English Manifest Destiny, no matter how it sticks in the craw. Then think about how England has always – but always – behaved when it wants what it wants. Think about Diego Garcia. Now, I know. I keep saying it, but that is my final comment, for a while anyway. I’ve tried.
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I would agree, Scotland needs to Dissolve the Union, by revoking the Treaty of Union, then we can have some kind of vote. Also, we must become Independent before Ireland is re-united in my opinion.
Or will Scotland find it is bounced into Independence on seeing Northern Ireland rejoin the Republic?
For that is surely going to happen in the not too distant future.
I don’t think huge numbers of Ulster unionists will come over to Scotland en masse. There would be nowhere for them to go, if large groups came over all tat once. There might be a gradual movement, but most of them see NI as their home.
But they must know too, Scotland would not be fond of a huge influx of from there, and they would know, again, this country is a different place. Similar, but different.Most would in fact prefer to stay where they are now.
Another thing about unification, is I think it would help a great deal, if NI still had its Assembly, and remain Devolved, but this time within Ireland.
As for Scotland, it has been disappointing the course SNP has chosen of late.
And also, it is a pity, Lorna, you feel the need to step back a bit.
The Wings guy seems to be of the same frame of mind.
In the circumstances, that is understandable.
However, that is what the Unionist here, want from us.
We must prove them wrong.
Peter I presume to understand your dismissal of the various schemes and ideas which people propose to end this stalemate or drive forward the cause , but it is understandable when so many are frustrated at the lack of urgency and ideas being utilised by the FM and the SNP SG . I and many others are sick of the complacency and broken promises uttered by the FM and her cabal of it will be alright on the nighters . It is one thing to appeal to people to be patient and supportive of Nicola’s stance but when there appears to be a complete lack of planning or preparation in response to bozos outright refusals it does not engender confidence in the messenger or message
To me the statement on the 31st Jan was a tired defeatist message of ( well I tried but he said NO ) there was no positivity , no determination , no battle cry , no rallying of the troops , merely one of acceptance that our colonial masters rule the day
What frightens me more is the number of people who are willing to accept this procrastination and caution and believe that Nicola does have a cunning plan
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…”First Minister’s stubborn insistence on abiding by the British state’s rules”…
Isn’t it more that NS has tied herself to only one of the rules (Section 30)…and then falsely equated that option as THE legal one.
This is even worse than just playing by British state rules. its giving up on using the rules to any advantages and taking their taking points as gospel.
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What i have been advocating to anyone that will listen to me, quite simply we should start up a Social democratic English Independence party,using much the same policies as the SNP have now. What would this achieve, it would absolutely put the shitters up the Union political establishment. (Ref UKIP forcing the EU election).If we cant beat there rules, join there rules..
NS has rather naively painted herself into a corner. Not only that, even before she started painting there was no indication of any plan. Now, it is absolutely clear there has been no strategic thinking whatsoever beyond a risible belief that they will eventually surrender to the force of our mandate. If that mandate disappears next year, or even if it is confirmed, we will be no further forward. We are not dealing with a “normal” person in No10, we are dealing with a maverick who frames everything in terms of what will be to his ultimate benefit.
Peter may be unwilling to put forward a plan, but plenty of others have, some more realistic than others. As I’ve said before I favour the Craig Murray idea – a convention that declares Independence followed by a confirmatory plebiscite.
But also, to give that convention a kick-start we should embark on a grass-roots campaign of activism – for example, start writing letters to every SNP MP, MSP, Councillor urging them to give the party hierarchy a bollocking, telling them that time is running out, that we must seize the moment, that we must take the route established in International Law, ie that we don’t need the permission of the overarching State, ie the UK (embodied in WM) to secede and that is what we should do and do now.
I fear if we are not independent in a year or two the SNP will be finished and with it any hopes of an independent Scotland “for a generation”, or two or three – to coin a phrase.
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