A home for hope?

Like many people, I have come to regard Joanna Cherry as the person who might jolt the SNP leadership out of the cloth-eared inertia which has beset the party since 2014 and left the independence campaign run aground on a reef of obdurate hyper-caution. I saw in Ms Cherry someone who might look at the increase in support for independence indicated by polls over the past year and rather than unthinkingly accepting this as a vindication of the SNP’s approach to the constitutional issue, would ask the awkward questions. Such as, why only over the past year? Circumstances have been close to ideal for an anti-Union campaign since Friday 19 September 2014. Since then, there have been numerous opportunities to further Scotland’s cause. All of them were missed. Why? If the SNP’s approach to the constitutional issue is appropriate and effective, why was there no evidence of this over a period of five years or more?

I thought Joanna Cherry might be the bold voice within the SNP pointing out the unpalatable facts. Such as the hard reality that high and rising support in the polls is utterly meaningless in the absence of a process by which that support is connected through actions and decisions to an outcome. Strength of public opinion alone changes nothing without the means to translate it into effective political power. The SNP in government is supposed to is supposed to provide that means. Instead, the party’s leadership remains absolutely committed to a process – Section 30 – which does not connect to anything. And now has indefinitely postponed action even on a process which suits only the purposes of the British state.

I was encouraged in my hopes of Joanna Cherry when I read that she was urging the SNP to accept that the anti-Brexit campaign was over and lost. I would have been happier if she were to explicitly acknowledge that the obsession with Brexit should never have been permitted to supersede and supplant the commitment to restoring Scotland’s independence which gets top-billing in the party’s own constitution. But we take what we can get.

Some will say that it is pointless harking back to the past. Generally, these would be the people who stand to be embarrassed by the past. Their sensitivities should not be allowed to stand in the way of learning lessons from past mistakes. Not only has the current leadership of the party failed to learn any lessons, it is in denial about there being anything to learn. Nicola Sturgeon – for it is she as First Minister and party leaders who must shoulder the blame – has ignored and/or denigrated anyone who suggests alternative approaches which take due cognisance of past errors.

But we are where we are. Even if all too many in the Yes movement imagine we’re in a different place altogether. We must move on. With each passing day the need to extricate Scotland from the Union grows more urgent. Only the SNP can provide the means to translate popular support for Scotland’s cause into effective political action on behalf of that cause. I had come to look on Joanna Cherry as the individual who, with popular support of her own, might snap the SNP leadership out of its Brexit-induced torpor and make it fit for purpose.

Imagine my disappointment when I got to the final third of Joanna Cherry’s column in The National only to find something that reads like it has been pinched from Pete Wishart’s blog. She does that thing that so many SNP politicians do. She reaches out to the British state’s propagandists and validates their carping. She hints at fresh thinking, then proceeds to trot out stale material left over from the 2014 referendum campaign. She says, “we need to advance a fresh positive case for an independent Scotland”. No we don’t! We need to advance the idea that independence is simply normal. We need to make the case that it is the Union which is the constitutional anomaly and that Brexit isn’t the problem. The problem is the Union which allows the British political elite to ignore the democratic will of the sovereign people of Scotland in all matters and at all times!

She goes on,

This means providing answers to the questions that in the full glare of an independence campaign will come into focus…

No it doesn’t!

Joanna Cherry needs to ask how these questions are brought into focus, by whom and for what purpose. Only by asking such questions might the realisation dawn that these questions are brought into focus through British propaganda fed to us through the British media on behalf of the British state for the purpose of manufacturing doubt about independence.

She says,

From my experience talking to voters these questions revolve around three issues: the economy and concern about what currency an independent Scotland will use, including whether we could be forced to join the euro; how the process of accession to the EU would actually work, and how to maintain cross-border trade with England.

But where did these people get the questions form? The got them from the British media! The vast majority of voters have neither immediate interest in nor any knowledge of these matters. They are told by the media that it is absolutely vital that they get an answer to the ‘What currency?’ question. So the think they need an answer to that question – notwithstanding the fact that even if any answer they could be given constituted real knowledge, it would be knowledge that they could do nothing with. And whatever answer they are provided with and however comprehensive and convincing that answer is, the British media will tell them that they didn’t get an answer and they will thereby suppose that they didn’t get an answer and they will be outraged despite the fact that they had previously accepted an answer that is of no real use to them to a question it would never have occurred to them to ask in the first place.

Even if the ‘What currency?’ question is answered there is no answer that can be given that doesn’t spawn a score of other questions. Merely by being asked every one of those questions generates doubt. By attempting to answer them the SNP validates the questions asked, amplifies the doubt and prompts further doubt-inducing enquiries.

Joanna Cherry says,

These are all legitimate questions.

No they’re not!

The ‘legitimate’ question would be is Scotland capable of managing its monetary affairs? Why doesn’t that question “come into focus”? Because attempting to answer that question would cause the British political elite considerable and obvious difficulty. So they use the facile ‘What currency?’ question to divert attention.

The same or similar applies to every other question. Politics for Dummies! When your opponent asks a question the purpose is rarely if ever to elicit useful information. Always assume malign intent. Always ask yourself what question is not being asked. Then ask it!

How do I know all this? Because it is exactly what happened in the first referendum campaign!

I have grown accustomed to SNP politicians and Yes activists behaving as if Scotland needed to pass an exam to even be allowed to exercise the right of self-determination that is ours by absolute right. I had hoped that Joanna Cherry would be different. I had hoped that she would understand the need to reframe the constitutional issue and rethink the campaign strategy. If not quite dashed, that hope is now seriously undermined. Which leaves me with a genuinely legitimate question. If not Joanna Cherry, then who?

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7 thoughts on “A home for hope?

  1. “And whatever answer they are provided with and however comprehensive and convincing that answer is, the British media will tell them that they didn’t get an answer and they will thereby suppose that they didn’t get an answer and they will be outraged despite the fact that they had previously accepted an answer that is of no real use to them to a question it would never have occurred to them to ask in the first place.”

    This really sums up why we should not be getting distracted, deflected, side-tracked or sucked-in by questions of Scotland economic capability and competence.

    It’s a waste of time and energy – why? Well there are a number of factors I guess, of which I imagine the following 3 are a sample of:

    1. Embarrassment

    Significant numbers of people who have apparently been asking these questions are simply the Scottish that voted NO in 2014 and still hold the same views. They are discomforted – rightly so – that they are folk whose views ensured that Scotland is the only nation to reject statehood when offered the opportunity to take it (by peaceful means). The questions are merely a shield for their shame.

    2. Gullibility

    Unfortunately many people only have time to read/watch/listen to the headline and/or standfirst in the BritNat press/tv/radio and regurgitate the material that they have been fed. They vote first and think later (if at all). Given that the vast majority of media outlets are pro-Union, who invariably have high profile BritNat sycophants screaming their ‘too wee, too poor, too stupid’ propaganda across the airwaves or from their highly paid newspaper columns, it is little wonder that either the loudest or latest opinion this cohort hears is the anti-Indy one and, therefore, the one that registers with them.

    3. Fear

    For some, simply getting up in the morning or crossing a road represents danger. They want certainty, where none can possibly exist. They forget that their parents never made them any promises when they were born. Or, if they did, those now mature offspring still haven’t realized that they were lied to. But any change from the status quo and that which is known – although not with any context as to whether this is good, bad or indifferent – represents risk and uncertainty. The BritNat scaremongering about how life will be in a post-Union Scotland will always find fertile minds amongst this group for sowing their nasty little seeds of fear and loathing.

    There will be other factors but the above will serve to illustrate the folly in wasting time on attempting rational detailed argument.

    But the point is surely thus: It doesn’t matter how many ‘answers’ that are provided to spurious questions on economics and statistics these people will not be swayed. If you are to reach them at all then you have to inspire them:



    1. If they haven’t been inspired yet then they’re not going to be. The way to go about getting them over to Yes is to exploit doubts about the Union. Go on the attack. Deploy the negative campaigning which was missing from the 2014 Yes campaign.


      1. Yes, and in the process remind them that all the deceit, lies, mendacity and perfidy of the British would not e allowed to happen if we elected our own government.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “whether we could be forced to join the euro”

    Apart from anything else, I do not understand the issue about “being forced” to use the Euro. That seems to me a particularly English “horror”. In any case if Scotland were to re-join the EU, it would simply have to promise to adopt the Euro at some stage.

    Anyway, what’s wrong with the Euro as currency? Millions of people use it across national frontiers – no need to change money for holidays, no need to pay bank charges for changing, it simplifies cross-frontier pricing and trade

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The trouble with her position regarding currency questions etc. is also that it gives the impression
    that once independence is achieved that’s the end of politics for Scotland. I thought the whole idea was that after independence we would do what other democracies do and continue with elections. We would then vote for those candidates whose policies we thought best, see how well they lived up to their promises and then vote accordingly in subsequent elections. A country’s policies change and develop over the years as circumstances change (something over which we don’t always have control e.g. Covid-19!)

    Liked by 1 person

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