I see Pete “The Postponer” Wishart has issued his call to inaction again. All across Scotland his battle-cry echoes, “Once more unto the waiting room, dear friends, once more!”. Apparently, the fight to restore Scotland’s independence must wait while Pete trains a troupe of line-dancing ducks. As rationalisations for indefinite delay go, this has the advantage of novelty. But it is otherwise less than persuasive. Don’t get me wrong! I wish Pete well in his duck-choreographing efforts and I’ll probably watch the YouTube video when he finally manages to get them all in a row; but I may not be alone in holding to the opinion that of all the things that Scotland needs right now, performing farmyard fowl comes pretty low on the list. Just above a second spike of coronavirus infections.
I am curious, however. I’d like to know what he means by “another dead end”. In the title of his latest paean to procrastination he asks ‘PLAN B. PANACEA OR ANOTHER DEAD END?’. What might be the first “dead end” implied by the question? What else could it be but PLAN A? So we must assume, as no other candidate plans are mentioned. Is this Pete Wishart acknowledging that the Section 30 process is a “dead end”? Or is it just more evidence that he talks – and types – faster than he thinks. Never mind the meaning! Look at the cleverness!
Why ask if ‘Plan B’ might be a panacea anyway? Has anybody claimed that it might have the power to cure all ills? Come to that, has anybody claimed that it might be the “solution to all our indy woes”? Or that it could “break the constitutional stand off and get us swiftly and easily to independence”? Who has described ‘Plan B’ in such terms? When? Where?
Don’t ask Pete! (No! Seriously! Don’t ask him. He doesn’t like being asked questions about anything he’s said or written. He gets very upset if people don’t simply accept his pronouncements as gospel. Don’t you know who he is?) It seems he doesn’t know either. Having just told us what he insists people have said it is, he poses the question, “But what exactly is plan B?”. Call me picky, but should he not have asked that question first? Should he not have told his readers what was about to get the benefit of his disparagement? Did he not just give the impression that he knew what ‘Plan B’ was? Or at least enough to know what it was described as? Confused? Just wait! (To coin a phrase.)
Pete Wishart then tells us that “no one has actually outlined what the exact proposal is”. But we know that’s not true. And so does he. Because he goes on to refer to and describe the proposal that Chris McEleny and Angus MacNeil had developed in sufficient detail to be put to conference – and be met with boos from the audience and behaviour from the party bosses that was hardly less reprehensible. Having said that ‘Plan B’ had never been explained Pete Wishart then goes on to explain ‘Plan B’ in the very terms of the explanation he says has never been given. Aye! I know!
To confuse matters further, Wishart then makes some fairly good points about the proposal he says he’s unfamiliar with because “no one has actually outlined what the exact proposal is”. Don’t ask me how that’s possible. More importantly, don’t ask him. Anything. Ever. He doesn’t like it.
I have always been supportive of Chris McEleny and Angus MacNeil not because I agree with their proposal or think it a workable idea but because they at least want to have a discussion about the SNP’s approach to the constitutional issue, while Pete Wishart and others want only to close that discussion down. Wishart says he proposes to “ask a few gentle but searching questions” about ‘Plan B’. We might wonder how he proposes to do that when he says he has no way of knowing exactly what ‘Plan B’ is. We might also wonder why, if it is considered essential that “gentle but probing questions” are asked of a proposal that’s more caricatured than described, similar questioning of ‘Plan A’ is strictly prohibited.
As my regular readers will both be aware, I have been asking searching and latterly non-too-gentle questions about the Section 30 process for years. Just as I have been asking probing questions about Pete Wishart’s notion of an ‘optimal time’ to act on the independence issue. I have had no answers on either matter.
The strategy will be familiar to those who paid attention during the 2014 referendum campaign. The approach taken by the SNP and the Yes movement then was that we had to ‘make the case for independence’. Having put the onus on ourselves, the anti-independence campaign immediately and predictably set about demanding answers to questions asked only because asking them suggested doubt. As any sensible person would have anticipated, the questions were endless and the answers never sufficient even if they were acknowledged as having been given.
Meanwhile, there was no questioning of the Union. The entire campaign proceeded – with the full concurrence of the SNP and the bulk of the Yes movement – on the promise that the UK is unquestionably satisfactory and independence has to be proved a worthy and workable alternative. But no proof could ever be enough. No test could ever be passed. The case for independence can never be made to the satisfaction of the British establishment. And the SNP insist that the British establishment must be the ultimate arbiter.
Pete Wishart insists that “the SNP will enter the next Holyrood election with a route map to secure our nation’s independence”. Why, then, will he not explain that “route map” at least as well as he wants ‘Plan B’ explained? If he is so confident that the SNP’s approach is the right one and that it is winning, why the refusal to set out the steps in the process? He says the SNP has a “route map”. But there are only two points on this so-called route map. The destination – independence – and a starting point which is wherever he needs it to be in order to make that destination seem reachable. A route map, as the term suggests, portrays a route. It lays out all the critical points which must be passed through in order to reach the destination. Nobody in the SNP leadership or the second tier that Wishart occupies is able (or willing) to tell us what any of those critical points are, far less how we get by them.
He dismisses ‘Plan B’ as impossible because the British state can and will just say no and we must accept that refusal because to do otherwise would give them further grounds for saying no.
Isn’t that the very definition of the Section 30 process?
One thing Pete Wishart says caught my attention for reasons other than its evident ridiculousness.
There are only two ways to pursue independence, one is with the participation of the UK state, the other is through a unilateral declaration.
He almost gets it here. Quite unwittingly, I’m sure, Pete Wishart comes tantalisingly close to pinning an essential idea. It may well be true to say that there are only two ways to pursue independence. But then he succumbs to his inability to question his own assumptions and preconceptions. That he accepts the ‘right’ of the UK state to participate in the process is symptomatic of a colonised mind. That he finds anathema the very idea of Scotland being proactive and assertive speaks of a mind that has fallen prey to British propaganda portrayal of Scotland as ‘Too wee! Too poor! Too stupid!”.
If there are only two ways to pursue independence then one – the one favoured by Pete Wishart and those above him in the SNP hierarchy – is not merely with the “participation” of the UK state, but with the full, honest and willing cooperation of the British state. That is what the Section 30 process requires.
The other way is for Scotland to take responsibility for itself and its own future. To reject the Section 30 process as a constitutional trap laid by the British state and recognise that the only process by which we can successfully pursue the restoration of our independence is a process which we create for ourselves.
One other thing is worth remarking on. When I visited Pete Wishart’s blog there were several comments on it. Not one of them favourable. Many of them highly critical. This is a marked change from a year or so ago, when he could confidently anticipate a sympathetic audience for his brand or timorous complacency trying to pass itself off as political nous. A tide is turning. Given that Wishart dutifully parrots the party line, might we hope that he will notice the rising waters threatening to sweep him away along with all the other worshippers at the altar of the ‘Gold Standard’. Might he recognise that party members, Yes activists and voters will not much longer tolerate the SNP leadership’s obdurate adherence to a process that simply cannot move Scotland’s cause forward.
Maybe. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Take a number. Mr Wishart will show you to the waiting room.
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13 thoughts on “It’s the waiting…”
Ducks in a row or rabbits caught in the headlight of logic? The waiting game seems to have become a career strategy for too many independistas.
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Is it Pete Wishart or Pete Wizard as he’s obviously hoping to deploy some form of magic to persuade Westminster to agree to the S30 request.
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My Plan B. Don’t know if it makes any sense.
I believe the Treaty of Union has a section that says that one partner can take no action that changes the treaty without the others consent. Before we leave the EU at the end of the year, the ScotGov lays out its case that by removing Scotland against its will, the treaty will be considered ended on Dec. 31. A referendum will follow to ratify the action.
It doesn’t matter whether it is possible or not. (Although it isn’t.) The way we restore our independence is almost as important as restoring it. That importance may not be apparent now. But it will be very obvious to future generations. It is vital that we TAKE our independence back. It will be a different thing if it is ‘granted’ by the British state or secured on our behalf by some external agency.
Who wants to celebrate Independence Day as marking our inability or unwillingness to take what is rightfully ours? I know I don’t. And I don’t want that to be my legacy to future generations.
Wishart is a surrender monkey and he expects voters to get right behind him and follow him over the edge of the abyss where you just go nowhere and never land. He has got fat off the lamb from the English table and loves his wee trips to Londons poshest restaurants so why would he want to give it all up. The people of Scotland, do not exist to provide him with money and position. If the SNP do not act to break this unholy union then there will be no SNP………but perhaps that’s the plan. When the truth about what happened to Alex Salmond breaks the SNP might just break as well.
You better hope the SNP isn’t seriously damaged. We still need the effective political power that only the party can deliver.
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Aye agreed, but I would expect a changing of some of the guard and a reinvigorated party and resurgent yes movement followed quickly by independence. As the the treaty of union was built on a fraud and the U.K. parliament was rigged to favour England, then to quote your phrase it must be desolved.
We should also be clear that the terms of the Edinburgh Agreement, the inter-governmental document that committed Westminster to a Section 30 order, was violated by Better Together with its last minute enhanced offer, otherwise known as ‘The Vow’.
We should also be clear that the terms of ‘The Vow’ itself were then disregarded in the months following the Referendum.
I have no doubt that if the result had gone the other way, the part of the Edinburgh Agreement that committed Westminster to respecting the outcome would also have been disregarded somehow. It is naivety in the extreme to imagine that Westminster, having made a catastrophic misjudgement, would just meekly live with the consequences.
We only went through a Section 30 process because it was offered in return for a Yes/No question and for limiting the timetable of the Referendum. At the time, it seemed we had nothing to lose by signing up to it and potentially much to gain.
It turns out that this was a mistake, not in the context of 2014 but for now, as it is held up as some mythical process that was always planned rather than a make it up as we go along device contrived by Westminster to frustrate us.
The bottom line is that any notion of ‘requiring’ a Section 30 is a fundamental acknowledgement that Independence is not our sovereign right but a matter to be acquiesced to by Westminster. It is a signal to everyone, including the all-important international community, that even the Scottish Government accepts the Westminster veto.
People generally seem to think that this veto can only be applied to prevent a Referendum. This is a deep misunderstanding of what the Section 30 process represents. We have already seen how Westminster, with the full co-operation of the Supreme Court, is able to retrospectively change the rules in the context of the Scottish Parliament’s relatively trivial EU Continuity Bill. Don’t be at all surprised if a clear Yes vote is subsequently invalidated in a similar manner and, because it was delivered via a Section 30 order, we will have agreed to the right of Westminster to do so.
But none of this amounts to a hill of beans. Westminster has learned the lessons of 2014 (how I wish I could say the same of others) and will simply not allow any of the above to transpire by repeating the mistake of ‘allowing’ an Independence Referendum again.
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All this clamoring for an immediate Indyref2 , reminds me of casual punters investing in the stock market.
They always get lured into the prospect when times are good, skies and sunny and share prices are high, hoping that they will go ever higher.
off course this is the very worse time to invest , when euphoria drowns out reason.
Yet when the storm clouds gather and the market falls they then sell at the very bottom when prospects are dimmest.
Indeed often the darkest hour is the most propitious for investment, to buy when everyone is selling and then sell when everyone is back into the market is good business.
If Indyref2 had been called this year can you imagine the anxiety as Lock- down prevented campaigning , who was to know ?
When was the time over the last 6 years when Indyref2 could of been called and won ?
The best would have been 2015. But given that you imagine me to be euphoric, I’m not betting on you understanding that.
The aftermath of 2014 and the year when the SNP campaigned on “holding feet to the fire ” and upholding the VOW?
In the GE they got 1.5 million votes. As a result of this conciliatory manifesto (they never got so much since )
So they were to make the GE manifesto about Independence and a referendum or they were to rail road one through Holyrood for the Autumn 2015 rematch ?
The FM is correct. there has been no favorable moment ever since.
I disagree, the view there was “no favorable moment since”.
Soon after June 2016, after the Brexit vote in was the proper time to go for Independence.
As for Indy Refs, of any kind, I don’t accept that is the only way to get Independence, and in fact, as we have since 2014, is being used to stop Independence.
As for the ultra cautious MP Wishart, he seem to think Independence can come along at some time in the future, maybe when it might suit London.
But as we have seen, with a Kent tory MP, it will never sit London, and that Kent MP’s views are the majority of English MPs on the matter.
They will do anything they can to stop Scotland going it’s own way.
So, Scotland has to make its own way regardless.
There is now, no other choice for this country.
She should hire you. But she probably has enough apologists.
I pressed for a referendum in September 2018 or no later than September 2018. That date wasn’t picked out of a hat. It was the product of long consideration and analysis as unfettered by assumptions and preconceptions as any individual’s might be absent specialised training. My thinking on the matter was not, for example, shackled to any notion of a ‘right time’, as yours appears to be. I considered the matter on the basis, not only of what conditions and circumstances would most closely approach some ideal, but on what circumstances were more or less likely to arise and how conditions were more or less likely to develop.
I do not claim to have foreseen the SNP’s present travails. Nor do I claim to have predicted any aspect of the British government’s frighteningly erratic and irrational behaviour. But I did take account of the ways in which circumstances and conditions could worsen as well as improve over time.
I do not claim to have foreseen the Alex Salmond affair. But I knew with something approaching certainty that something like that would happen. If the British state is determined to dig some dirt on a leading figure in a cause then eventually dirt will be dug. If a party stays in power long enough than it will eventually suffer the effects of internal tensions and external pressures. If a movement survives long enough the energy which drove it will weaken and it will eventually succumb to factionalism as some try to renew that energy while others seek to scavenge what remains for personal or partisan gain.
In short, I foresaw that things would start to go all to fuck at some point and knew that it was essential to move forward the fight to restore Scotland’s independence before that happened – regardless of what other circumstances prevailed. Either we got it done by September 2018, or the chances of it getting done started to diminish.
I was not wrong. Nicola Sturgeon got it wrong. I could take a stab at explaining why she got it wrong. But I’m depressed enough about it all. There is no satisfaction in watching events unfold as you feared they would. And little comfort in saying, “Ah telt ye!”. That said, I must take what comfort I may. If people had listened to me (and a few others who I won’t presume to speak for) we would not be where we are. We would by now have restored Scotland’s independence and would be congratulating ourselves on having the foresight to move when we did.