Lost moments

There is a whiff of desperation about Mike Russell’s continuing efforts to provoke the elusive “Brexit Bounce” which was supposed to push the polls high enough to perhaps overcome the inertia which has left the independence campaign in a parlous state and Scotland’s predicament more precarious than ever. Mr Russell does a pretty good job of describing that predicament. But I see nothing here that suggests a plan for rescuing Scotland from the looming threat of British Nationalism, not to mention the latest and most ominous incarnation of the ‘Greater England Project’.

The Scottish Government, it appears, is still pinning all its hopes for the campaign to restore Scotland’s independence on anger at a catastrophic Brexit being imposed on Scotland. The impact of this public outrage on the polls is always just around the corner – except when it’s just over the horizon. It’s been imminent for long enough to have necessitated repeated revision of the time-scale to which the term applies. That time-scale has been expanded from months to years and could well be further stretched to decades.

If there was to be a “Brexit Bounce” then it should have started to be apparent within days of the EU referendum as it became evident that Scotland’s democratic will would be treated with customary contempt by the British political elite. Yet here we are, approaching four years later and those polls have barely twitched out of margin of error territory. Taking account of the fact that the entire Brexit debacle has been considerably worse than foretold by all but the most woeful Jeremiads, it would not be unreasonable to expect that the polls would be favouring Yes by around ten points more than they are.

But still Mike Russell clings to the hope that the “Brexit Bounce” is just waiting in the wings ready to make an appearance calculated for greatest dramatic effect. It seems that this “Brexit Bounce” was a crucial element of the administration’s strategy. Without it, the strategy stalls.

We are entitled to wonder why the Scottish Government chose to be so totally reliant on something that is so much out of its control. Public perception of Brexit was always going to be more important than the reality. And the machinery for manipulating public perception is almost entirely in the hands of the British establishment. Thus, despite all the doom-laden rhetoric from Mike Russell and Ian Blackford and the rest what the public has perceived is, not an unfolding disaster, but an ongoing farce. Brexit is seen more as a tediously unfunny comedy than as an alarmingly developing catastrophe.

The SNP has been trying to keep Brexit in the exclamation marked headlines while the British propaganda machine has been deployed to relegate it to the ‘meanwhile’ section. We know which is the most effective.

There are a perhaps surprising and certainly disturbing number of people ‘out there’ who fail to realise the importance of understanding the problem in order to develop a solution. How often do we see criticism of the SNP’s approach to the constitutional issue met, not with a considered response to the critique, but with vitriolic condemnation of the critic’s ‘disloyalty’ and diversionary demands for their alternative? How often do we see people insisting that no criticism of Nicola Sturgeon’s strategy can possibly be valid unless it is accompanied by a suggested alternative strategy? How often do we see that alternative itself declared invalid so as to avoid the need to respond meaningfully to the concerns being expressed?

How might it be possible to develop an effective strategy while the attitude prevails that only the existing strategy can possibly be effective? Even in the face of the increasingly evident failure of that strategy?

Instead of obdurately depending on the phantom “Brexit Bounce” and persistently promising its appearance Mike Russell and his colleagues should be asking why it has not happened. And they should be prepared to entertain posited explanations – from whatever source – rather than ignoring or dismissing them.

My own explanation would be that the SNP has made the same mistake as the party made in the 2014 referendum campaign. It has let the Brexit issue be taken into the realm of economics rather than constitutional politics. The crucial point about Brexit was (is?) the fact that its imposition on Scotland in contemptuous disregard of the will of Scotland’s people represented a particularly egregious manifestation of the constitutional injustice of the Union. Rarely has there been a clearer demonstration of the inherently anti-democratic nature of the Union.

That is what the SNP should have focused on while encouraging the Yes movement to do likewise. The imposition of Brexit on Scotland by the British state should have prompted an immediate all-out attack on the Union. The economic stuff could have been left to the Scottish Government.

Instead of a short, sharp, focused onslaught against the Union, we’ve had a prolonged ‘poor us’ moan-fest about Boris Johnson and the Tories accompanied by a litany of economic doom-mongering of the very sort that was deployed by Project Fear and which we had urged people to ignore.

Instead of an assault on the cause of the problems we’ve had a repetitive recounting of the symptoms and accounts of the prognosis which are no less monotonous for being ever more horrific.

All of which is grist to the mill of the portentous rhetoric that has become Ian Blackford’s favoured schtick in the British parliament and excellent material for Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp’s presentations. But it bores the skitters out of your average punter. It fails to engage the disengaged. It fails to inspire the apathetic.

If there was to be a “Brexit Bounce” it would be driven by righteous and justified anger at a constitutional outrage. It was never going to be provoked by cold calculation of economic consequences.

The opportunity to boost the independence campaign offered by Brexit has been squandered. The moment is gone. And there is nothing Mike Russell can do to bring it back.



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16 thoughts on “Lost moments

  1. Sometimes I think the SNP leadership are trying to make a niche for themselves by making out the UK could be OK as long as SNP is always power saying they’re Stronger for Scotland and Hope slogans.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am an economist and statistician by academic qualification and in my career. These disciplines are abstract, a bit nerdy and are an acquired taste. Talking about supply and demand, savings and investment, government expenditure and taxation, imports and exports, currency etc are dry and most probably extremely boring for those not schooled in the subjects. Without being disrespectful and condescending I imagine that would be the bulk of the population.

    In addition arguing for independence with the emphasis on economics and statistics simply allows opponents the opportunity to easily pick holes in the case being advocated and plays on the fears and (unsurprising) ignorance of the detailed technicalities of these matters. Without being disrespectful and condescending I imagine that would be the bulk of the population.

    The debate should always have been about whether the people can get to elect a government that reflects the beliefs and values, as well as employs policies likely to meet needs and which go some way to facilitating aspirations, of the people that government is elected to represent. When the government fails in this respect the people can deploy the leather on their footwear to boot them out. That footwear would be well polished and shiny through repeated exercise and practise. That’s called Democracy.

    The message should be kept simple and straightforward.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. If the situation is apparent to so many of us way down the political ladder, why isn’t it so to the political leaders of our country? I should imagine they know perfectly well that nothing is going to work now except a direct confrontation with Westminster, and that can come in one of only two ways: domestically, by civil disobedience and refusing to do anything in any way that aids Westminster; or by asking for the help of the international community. They appear very reluctant to try either. We have to keep on asking: why?

    The former would involve our MPs in refusing to leave Scottish committees, invading Scottish committees, if they are blocked, speaking over the Speaker and any English MP who stands to speak and creating mayhem by gatecrashing England-only affairs. If that doesn’t work after a few weeks, then walk and refuse to allow any of Scotland’s business in any sphere to be carried out at Westminster, through Westminster or at the British Government in Scotland Office. Stage sit-ins by activists at the BGinSO. If, within one calendar month, the UKG has not agreed to talks, then we move on to the latter, and take a case to the ICJ on the grounds of the breaching of self-determination (now, patently, independence rather than devolution) and human rights, both under the auspices of the UN Charter, to which the UK is a signatory. Ask for our case to be heard and the Treaty of Union referred to a tribunal for older treaties, to be resiled, and for the whole procedure to be expedited in light of Brexit, to allow rUK to carry on with Brexit and to allow Scotland to declare her legal independence so that a ratifying referendum might be held to give political and democratic authority to that independence.

    The reason that we are languishing is less to do with bums polishing seats as it has to the SNP’s insane lurch into minority rights, I think, but, even then, there is something we are not being told. You can have respect for minority rights without rolling over, showing them your belly and pointing to be tickled. That is what has happened with the constitutional question and with GRA (self-ID) where the rights of those who voted for the SNP, the party of independence, whose votes have won every election since 2007, are being ignored in favour of the supposed rights of minorities to ride roughshod over long-fought-for rights in both cases. Women’s rights are at stake with GRA and independista Scots’ rights are at stake with allowing the minority Scottish Unionists and the minority rUK NO voters (2014 psephological results) to dictate the script, particularly when, in both cases, international law, to which the UKG and the SG are signatories, prevails.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Och, what I also wanted to say in my comment, and forgot, was that we have at least been shown that there is no way we can ever get through to Westminster. Mass resignations like this, whatever excuses are given, are the sign that things are falling apart. I have always liked and supported Nicola Sturgeon, and I believe her record and her colleagues’ has been excellent, despite the negativity of the Unionists. It is on the constitutional question that the party has floundered. That’s it. Now, we either grasp the thistle or we don’t and take what’s coming. That’s the only choice now, and if we get more of the same nonsense from the new lot coming up, the party is finished – at least, the SNP is. A new movement will start up and it will be far more hard-nosed. Maybe this will be necessary, anyway, sadly. Just remind the gloating Unionists/British and English Nationalists in our midst that they will be facing something that will not let go and that will be going for their jugular next time.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. i do think we need a new Political Party of Independence, now.
        It seems a lost hope that SNP leadership will change tact any time soon.
        We no longer have time.
        We have trusted SNP for long enough.
        If the leadership insist on going by London’s rules, etc, we have to turn to others who will put Scotland first, and actually mean it, and not just talk about it.
        SNP could help save things, tho, if they get a bit roe aggressive, like withdrawing from House of Commons.
        There is no point them being in that place. today.
        They must also abandon this insane, and ineffective Section 30 path,
        otherwise, they are wasting everyone’s time.
        If they can’t or don’t want to see that, then as I say, we need a completely new group.

        Like

      2. If we “no longer have time” using the SNP then how can we possibly have time to get a new party into a position where they might be of use?

        Like

  4. The near-comical incoherence of the Westminster Government tends to lead to an underestimation of its powers and its malice.

    In a period of less than 7 years, without even gaining a majority of votes, a government with internal competition as its modus operandi managed to move from gaining power to plunging Europe into war. It had gained the complete backing of the media and all those civil societies that still existed.

    The EEC was created in the expectation that structures could prevent that from recurring. The UK is no longer party to those structures. This isn’t a question of economics or law, and it may soon be beyond a question of politics – as anyone who has seen the Westminster MPs walk out as Mr Blackford rises to his feet will know. He may be no Otto Wels yet, but the same path is being trodden in Westminster.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. “Instead of an assault on the cause of the problems we’ve had a repetitive recounting of the symptoms and accounts of the prognosis which are no less monotonous for being ever more horrific.”

    This is it in a nutshell.

    The day after the EU referendum, when NS came out with all guns blazing, I thought we had a courageous leader who would not be cowed by the British establishment, and we were on our way.

    Independence was apparently ‘on the table’ that day, but since then it has been spirited away and will only return if Boris himself lays the table and folds the napkins.

    The biggest impact I can think of in the period since was Blackford’s ‘walkout’. The irony is he didn’t actually walk out, he was ordered out by Bercow. That is not to take away from the fact that he was immense that day, standing his ground in the face of the braying contumely of the British establishment. In any case, it played in the media as the ‘SNP walking out’. Suddenly they had the right kind of coverage at last, and applications for SNP membership soared. Surely this taught the SNP leadership something? Apparently not.

    The recent economic work done by GMK is very powerful. Scotland’s economic fundamentals are incredibly good, giving us the tools to drive forward on a Green Deal, and stop the selling off of the NHS.

    But while the economic arguements matter to a lot of people, there is a large demographic who are more swayed by Scotland being defecated upon, and the xenophobic animus of Brexit.

    The SNP could be doing much, much more to rouse these people and turn them into commited supporters of independence.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Mr Bell, it won’t come as ‘getting into position’. This has happened in almost all independence movements where the prevaricators drag their feet. It happens by a kind of osmosis, and, indeed, it is happening to the SNP right now. I’d say that, long before the end of the year, the prevaricators will be given an ultimatum. The leadership can postpone and cancel, but they cannot stop it. The new candidates will be keeping their powder dry right now, but they must be supremely lacking in wit if they cannot see that much of the membership will not put up with much more of this.

    Liked by 1 person

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