Changing the game

If Ross and Davidson turn the 2021 Scottish election into a plebiscite on the Union and indyref2, they stand to lose badly. Which will make it very difficult for Boris and Co to refuse a referendum.

This is how we know the Tories are about to play dirty

In the midst of George Kerevan’s otherwise excellent analysis we find the above unsupported assertion. George is far from alone in making this unsupported assertion. It has become a widely accepted, and hence seldom questioned, assumption that a decisive victory for the SNP in the next Holyrood election is essential because this “will make it very difficult for Boris and Co to refuse a referendum”. But I question it!

That a decisive victory for the SNP is absolutely essential is certainly true. And the notion that this will make it difficult – or even impossible – for Boris Johnson to refuse a Section 30 request is a very convenient explanation for those who consider that decisive victory for the SNP an end in itself and those who are strongly committed to the Section 30 process. It will not have escaped your notice that both these categories are populated almost entirely by the SNP leadership and its most loyal servants.

There is another way of explaining why that decisive SNP victory is essential. A way which finds considerably less favour with the party leadership and those most loyal to it. But we’ll come back to that.

First we must examine the claim that the Tories and other British parties losing badly enough in the Scottish Parliament elections might be enough to force Johnson to change his stance on refusing a Section 30 order. We start that examination by asking why. Why would it have this effect? Regardless of what he claims – and what others claim on his behalf – is the reason Boris adamantly refuses permission for a second referendum that there is no demand for it? Because only if that is genuinely the reason might a massive win for the SNP cause him to change his mind.

Who actually believes that British Nationalists are determined to block a second referendum because they feel bound by what they choose to believe is the will of the people? Who actually believes that British Nationalists would not continue to be determined to block a new referendum even if it was demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that the will of the people was to have such a referendum?

Whatever the reason(s) for the British political elite seeking to deny the people of Scotland the exercise of our fundamental and inalienable right of self-determination we can be absolutely certain it has nothing at all to do with what the people of Scotland want. When was that ever a consideration?

So why believe that even the clearest and most undeniable demonstration of popular demand for a new referendum would change anything? It wouldn’t! So that cannot be the reason for a decisive SNP victory being so crucial.

To understand the real reason we need the SNP to win and win big I want to refer you to something said in a comment on my blog and my response. The comment was as follows.

Politicians may delude themselves that they have the power to change history. They don’t. Only the people can do that.

To which I responded –

Sentimental drivel! The people have no power. The people have strength. It is the political class which translates that strength into effective political power. Commonly, they will seek to persuade the people that it was popular power wot won it. All too many will be taken in by the stirring rhetoric. Strip away the deceptive varnish, however, and what you find is that as an all but invariable rule revolutions are initiated by the middle classes – academics, artists, professionals, civil servants and minor politicians – who then enlist the strength of the people.

Were you to find any exception to this rule – a true popular revolution which was successful – then what you would also and absolutely without exception find is that the success of that ‘people’s revolution’ came only after it engaged the same middle classes.

The reason a massive SNP victory in the next Holyrood election is important to us – the people – rather than to the SNP hierarchy is not because it changes anything about Boris Johnson or the British political elite or British Nationalist ideology and the determination to preserve the Union at any cost, but because it changes the SNP. More precisely, it changes the relationship between the party and the people.

We, the people, want and need an unprecedented SNP landslide not because it will stop Boris Johnson denying our right of self-determination but because it will stop the SNP denying it. We want and need that political and constitutional game-changer not because it will force Boris Johnson to grant a Section 30 order but because it will force Nicola Sturgeon to stop asking for it.

We want and need that SNP victory not because it will somehow cause the British political elite to respect Scotland’s people but because it will oblige Nicola Sturgeon to respect us. Not because it will require the British establishment to facilitate the end of the Union but because it will force the SNP to be the lever which prises Scotland from the Union despite the continuing and intensifying anti-democratic efforts of the British state.

We want and need that SNP win because it would represent Scotland’s popular independence movement engaging Scotland’s political class for our purposes as opposed to the political class laying claim to the strength of the popular movement in pursuit of its own agenda.

Neither the British political elite nor the SNP leadership want you to recognise this political reality. Not because they are in league, as I see some fools suggesting, but because there is a coincidence of interests such as happens in the real world. Otherwise we wouldn’t have so many dumb conspiracy theories.

In my response mentioned earlier I went on to observe that,

Perhaps more than anything else what Scotland’s cause needs right now is several heavy doses of hard-headed political realism. Fuck knows we’re not wanting for sentimental drivel.

Here is your first dose of hard-headed political realism. The British state will do whatever it reckons is necessary to preserve the Union. The British political elite will continue to deny the sovereignty of Scotland’s people and subvert Scotland’s democracy regardless of what happens in any election or referendum. That is why Douglas Ross and Ruth Davidson are being placed in the vanguard of the British state’s efforts to quell democratic dissent in its annexed territory.

Ross and Davidson are being put in place precisely and solely because they can be relied upon to follow orders without hesitation, absent any reflection, unimpeded by scruples and unhindered by principles.

There is no route to the restoration of Scotland’s independence which does not require that this aggressive obduracy is confronted with assertive determination.

There is currently no way to channel the strength of Scotland’s popular independence movement and translate that strength into effective political power other than through the SNP. And no time to find or create an alternative way.

There is every reason to assume that the coming Scottish Parliament elections represent our last chance to rescue Scotland from the forces of anti-democratic British Nationalism.

I urge and implore everyone who aspires to more for Scotland than an increasingly subordinate status with a ‘reformed’ Union to heed these words.

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12 thoughts on “Changing the game

  1. Any thought that an increased majority for the SNP will change SCs course rather than reinforce her position is sentimental drivel. However, your comments about engaging the middle classes is very pertinent given the rise of list only parties, which I hope can do this very thing.


    1. I may from time to time do drivel – at least in the estimation of those not well-disposed towards my views. But I don’t do sentimental in relation to politics. If we do not have the strength to force a change of approach by the SNP then we certainly don’t have what it takes to succeed against the massed forces of the British state.

      Even if you were correct in your perception of the situation, unlike you I am not prepared to give up without even trying.


  2. I tend to the view that if you give a bully your lunch money, they’ll just come back for it the next day too.

    If the bully has repented it will be reflected in its manifesto. But I’m not holding my breath. I’ll take my lunch money to the chip shop where food is simple and honest and virtue signalling banned.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really the SNP are starting to be between a rock and a hard place. How long do they continue trying to work within the UK framework? How long can they rely on the broad support of the Indy movement if they appear too comfortable in Holyrood under the present arrangement? What do they know that we don’t ???

    I’m reminded of the sign that was supposed to be displayed in every wildwest saloon, “Please don’t shoot the pianist — He’s doing his best!”


  4. I agree with your sentiments re FORCING NS and the SNP to recognise the STRENGTH behind the YES movement and to utilise that power and strength to CONFRONT WM

    BUT and it is a BIG BUT ,NS has had MANY opportunities to CONFRONT WM and has conceded and capitulated every time, e.g.brexshit for one , she was more interested in trying to FORCE engerland to remain rather than look after Scotland’s interests and TELLING WM that SCOTLAND will not be exiting the EU as that is what the people of Scotland demanded with their 62%

    I KNOW we need the SNP to be the SG but I also think NS will take the support for the SNP as an indication that we also support her reviled policies and we are happy with the pedestrian route to indy and nothing could be farther from the truth in my case , I have stated openly on here and other blogs that the SNP NEED the threat to their hegemony and comfortable lifestyles to realise that if they don’t get off their arses they will LOSE the majority of independence voters

    I want NS and SNP to STATE OPENLY that the HR election in 2021 will be a plebicitary election and if they gain 50%+1 of the votes cast they will immediately declare the union dissolved , no ambiguity , no sect 30 , no jam tomorrow, no gradualism , and if WM wants to challenge the decision through the ICJ OR UN let them , ALL OR NOTHING


    1. There is no such thing as a “plebicitary election”. An election cannot be a referendum. It might be somewhat similar to a referendum. But only if all the parties standing in the election agree – and abide by their agreement. Surely nobody is so naive as to believe this is going to happen. There is a very easy way the British parties can counter any attempt at a unilateral plebiscitary election. I read reports that the Tories are already considering doing this. See if you can think what it is. It will be good practice at thinking beyond the bit where you feel comfortable.

      And why would you bother? There is this daft notion going around that the whole thing has to be complicated in order to be real. Or at least in order to be credible. If fact, it stands to be disproved that if you have the capacity to do the complicated stuff, you have even greater capacity to do the simple stuff.

      For example. When Nicola Sturgeon was talking about “demanding” a Section 30 order I found it remarkable that neither she nor more than a handful of others realised that if she had that power to “demand” a Section 30 order then she had the power to proceed with a referendum without a Section 30 order. It’s precisely the same power in both instances.

      It is extremely difficult to have a proper referendum. Or so it would seem. Neither the 2004 independence referendum nor the 2016 EU referendum qualify as proper referendums. In order to qualify as a referendum there must be two totally distinct, tightly defined and readily deliverable options. In neither of these ‘referendums’ was this the case. If, as it seems, it is beyond our ability to hold a referendum as a referendum, what chance is there that we might perform the significantly more difficult trick of holding an election as a referendum?

      Here’s a novel idea! Why not put the proposal to hold a referendum in your manifesto and seek a mandate from the electorate then, on gaining that mandate hold the referendum you’ve been mandated to hold but do it fucking right! Wow! How come nobody thought of that before?

      You, of course, respond that the SNP has been given such mandates before. You can’t help yourself. You have a script. So why bother actually thinking? Were you to throw away the script and actually think then you would realise that the SNP isn’t the first party to renege on a manifesto commitment. You’d also realise that this doesn’t make it a hard and fast rule that all manifesto commitments must be reneged upon. It only seems that way because you are not taking account of all of the history of manifesto commitments. You are looking only at the manifesto commitments that have been reneged upon. But look at that history of manifesto commitments with an open mind and what you see is a multitude of manifesto commitments which have NOT been reneged upon as well as numerous manifesto commitments which were only reneged upon until they weren’t. You didn’t see these categories before because they conflict with the conclusion you were seeking.

      While daft folk are running around looking for complicated magical solutions they are ignoring the simplest solution of all. You even get close in your final paragraph but add in unnecessary complication of a plebiscitary election. Why would it need to be? Even if it were possible – which it absolutely isn’t – why would you go to all that bother? Just let the election be an election. Let the SNP stand on a Manifesto for Independence. Let that Manifesto for Independence state that, if elected, an SNP administration will immediately move to assert the competence of the Scottish Parliament in all constitutional matters. Let the Manifesto further state that, having so asserted the competence of the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government (SNP) will, in timely fashion, propose that the Union be dissolved subject to a referendum to be held no more than three months after the Scottish Parliament has given consent.

      Let the Manifesto for Independence also stipulate that said referendum shall be entirely made and managed in Scotland without the involvement of or interference from the British government in accordance with internationally accepted norms.

      That’s it! All that’s left is what may well be the most difficult task of all – getting the Yes movement to work with a totally reframed campaign. But if the Yes movement can be persuaded to combine in order to force the SNP to adopt a Manifesto for Independence, then there is hope that at least some part of that movement will realise that the movement is not the campaign and stick to the reframed strategy. And if we can’t get the Yes movement to combine and cooperate then the whole thing becomes academic as the SNP will not be forced to adopt the Manifesto for Independence and – long story short – we’re fucked.

      One last thing! Reading this, people will immediately want to jump in with a skip-load of what -ifs. Don’t! Just don’t! Because the answer is the same regardless the specifics of the what-if. The answer is, we cope! We deal with it! We meet the challenges!. Because if we are not prepared to do that, we are not ready for independence.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay setting apart your usual denigrating dismissive comments you will be surprised that I agree with what you say and your proposals , however you will probably be aware that I have been on various websites including this one entreating SNP members to take back control of the party whose supposed raison d’etra is independence , unfortunately many members are more concerned with keeping NS and the SNP in power than challenging her FAILURE to move in ANY WAY towards independence . So the route appears CLEAR and MANAGEABLE BUT the figurehead is immovable


  5. The Davidson and Ross double act has got Gove’s fishy lips all over it and I am more fearful than I have ever been on our long, long road to Independence.
    I posted many times in The Guardian ‘Wake up England before it’s too late’. but I think they are now gone and have accepted their fate.

    But we still have a chance so:

    ‘Wake up Scotland before it’s too late’ or should that be, ‘Someone wake the SNP up before it’s too late and
    as Peter says, we have given you the strength now use that power. And for the life me I don’t know why they haven’t.

    I wish more people would listen to you Peter, past and present, instead of having blind faith in the SNP.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The only way we are going to make the SNP listen to us is boot them up the goolies.

    Our support is being taken for granted.

    There is no doubt we need to give them unequivocal support in the coming election, but only in the constituency seats,

    We need one other independence party, preferably led by a firebrand to contest the list seats.

    The d’Hondt system guarantees that our SNP votes in the list are depreciated and allow all those puppets of the occupying power into our parliament,

    We need to burn them out, and then apply that flame to the feet of the SNP so they stop wasting time on peripheral issues and get on with what we have voted them in for.


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