Defying the bully

The Amritsar massacre

The National and social media being replete with prematurely triumphalist tales of how the Union is on the verge of crumbling in a terminal spasm of panic not on account of any action taken by the Scottish Government, but because of “soaring” support for independence and the serial incompetence of the current British regime, Andrew Learmonth’s exclusive in today’s National provides a timely reminder that the British state is a beast that is never more dangerous than when it is cornered. The surge in financial support for British Nationalist organisation Scotland in Union is just a small indication of how those with a vested interest in keeping Scotland bound in the Union will respond if the campaign to restore Scotland’s independence looks like gaining ground.

Reports of the British state’s imminent and strangely spontaneous demise are, of course, greatly exaggerated. They serve only to convince the credulous that the SNP’s strategy of doing absolutely nothing for six years is working. That the party’s approach to the constitutional issue is actually a cunning ploy. That it’s not the catalogue of missed opportunities we’ve witnessed since 2014 but a crafty waiting game. That the inaction isn’t to be explained by timorous inertia but by covert scheming only ever referred to using quotes from Sun Tzu or a mish-mash of metaphors drawing on allusions to sport or chess or poker or whatever. Apparently, we should not be deceived by the fact that Nicola Sturgeon not only isn’t doing anything on the constitutional front but has stated with some pride that she has no intention of doing anything. Ostensibly, this is her playing a long game; waiting to see the whites of their eyes; keeping her cards close to her chest and not interrupting her opponents when they are making mistakes.

Seemingly, the daily Covid-19 briefings are the latest and most powerful weapon being deployed for Scotland’s cause. Just a few more of those impressive presentations and the polls will “soar” to 55% or 56% or – whisper it! – maybe even 57% and then… what? That’s the bit we’re not allowed to know. We cannot be told how Nicola Sturgeon proposes to take the seven loaves of her approval ratings and the two fishes of Boris Johnson’s unpopularity and produce a democratic feast for the multitude of Scotland’s people. We must simply have faith. We must believe! The less evidence there is of a viable process by which popular support for independence can be turned into a democratic vote for independence, the stronger must be our belief. If it turns out that Nicola Sturgeon has no such process, it will be the fault of those who did not have enough faith and most definitely not because our political leaders are paralysed by a powerful disinclination to engage in the kind of hard, aggressive politics which Scotland’s predicament demands.

If you think I’m being overly cynical – or shockingly heretical – heed the wise observation made by author and poet Charles Bukowski.

The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.

The British state is not hampered in its actions by any reluctance to fight dirty. The British political elite will do anything to preserve the Union and the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. Blood and soil British Nationalists recognise no ethical or moral constraints as they pursue their ideological goal of a new ‘One Nation’ in which the periphery and annexed territories are subsumed into a ‘Great Britain’ that is truly ‘Great’ because it is purely British.

The British state is not about to simply roll over. The British political elite has massive forces at its disposal and an almost literally inexhaustible supply of cash. British Nationalists are not going to readily concede that their ambitions must be denied by Scotland’s aspirations. They will fight to maintain jealous Britannia’s grasp of Scotland. We must fight even more determinedly to prise Scotland from the clutches of that malignant hag.

This is not to say we should emulate the methods and tactics used by the British state. But our own methods and tactics can be informed by theirs without descending to lies and smears and the like that we recognise so well from memories of how Better Together/Project Fear behaved during the 2014 referendum campaign. It’s not about fighting fire with fire. It not about taking an eye for every eye lost. It is not about responding in kind, but about responding appropriately. It is a matter of making the best use of the resources we have rather than wishing we had the same resources as them. They have a few rich financiers. We have many people prepared to give what they can. They have the old media. We have the new media. They have raw power. We have noble principle.

When they demonstrate that they are determined to deny our sovereignty; prohibit the exercise of our right of self-determination and impose British authority over Scottish democracy, we must consider how we can keep open a democratic route to the restoration of Scotland’s independence.

When they are prepared to do anything to preserve their precious Union. We must ask ourselves what we are prepared to do in order to save Scotland.

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12 thoughts on “Defying the bully

  1. Thank you Peter, for saying what has to be said.

    I know I bang on about this at great length, but I am genuinely at a loss to know what are the most appropriate strategies of the moment.

    Clearly the Scottish Government is not about to grow testicles (metaphorically of course) and stand up for the country with its existing mandate.

    It is also reasonably clear that anything the independence movement does that is not scrupulously in keeping with British Nationalist morality (I use the term very loosely) will be depicted as verging on, if not actual, terrorism.

    I sometimes feel I am living through an answer to the question, often posed by people who do not properly understand the lumbering processes of history, as to why nobody stood up to Hitler. I am also often reminded of one of the most powerful scenes in Game of Thrones, in which Little Finger declares to Sercei that he knows of her incestuous relations and that during his rise to high rank he has come to learn an important principle, that knowledge is power, whereupon she orders her armed entourage to seize him and cut his throat, before changing her mind and telling that no, power is power.

    Like you said, the British state is not going to roll over and it will under no circumstances let control of its killing fields and copious natural resources fall into the hands of a bunch of grubby Jocks.

    In response to another of your pieces, I expressed the opinion that the so called long game has now been appropriated by the British state, so that the new Scottish state will become incorporated into the same systems of security, and perforce power and patronage, that have been at work in the UK for the last two or three hundred years.

    Which emphasises something I have believed for a while; that the Scottish independence movement is so violently derided because it is a direct assault on British capitalism, that an independent Scotland is equivalent to the final demise of the British Empire, we are its last imperial possession – apart from assorted inhospitable rocks, seabird colonies and tax havens.

    Which leads me to wonder if the most sensible strategies now are perhaps less focused directly, or ostensibly, on gaining Scottish independence, than on attacking the last bastions of imperial power, My own favourite would be kicking off the landowners in the highland estates and beginning processes of rewilding and repopulation. More immediately, I can think of a number of ways of rendering inoperable the new imperial offices of the British state in Reekie and Weegie.

    It seems to me too that there is another rather unpleasant elephant in the room; whether or not the orange moron is returned to the White House, the UK, of which we are still a part, will become completely dependent on trade with the US. Under which circumstances, the rural economy here will tank, land prices will fall, people will be dispossessed and corporations will buy up millions of acres to exploit as they see fit. Mass production of genetically engineered livestock and produce will gradually replace our more ecologically responsible husbandry. Pollution will become even more disgusting, attitudes will decline further, stupidity will flourish. Genuinely I fear for the future.

    We must stand up to this …. but how?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You make an important point. All too few people understand just how crucial Scotland is to the British state. It goes much deeper and wider than mere money and resources. Although that too is more important than a lot of people suppose. In that regard, I will mention just one resource that is rarely referred to – water!. Water is set to become one of the world’s most sought-after commodities. Scotland has vast supplies of the stuff. More importantly, our water is accessible.

      Speaking of access, another vital aspect of Scotland’s importance to the British state is access to the North Atlantic and the Arctic. Scotland is so located as to be of massive geopolitical significance. In truth, the British state derives most of whatever global significance it has from its ‘possession’ of Scotland.

      It is vital to understand all of this for two reasons. Firstly, it totally knocks on the head any suggestion that Scotland is ‘too wee, too poor, too stupid’. Scotland is wealthy in ways that people aren’t even cognisant of. Secondly, it helps us realise how hard the British state is going to fight to prevent the restoration of Scotland’s independence.

      But there is another facet to this which is worth mentioning. It is because Scotland is so important to the British state that they will back down in the face of a determined confrontation from the Scottish Government. They will most certainly NOT back down because of public pressure or, even more ridiculously, out of grudging respect for democracy. They will back down because so long as the Scottish Government shows no sign of weakness or wavering in its pursuit of #ScottishUDI, there will come a point where the Brits conclude that getting the best deal possible in independence negotiation is a weightier consideration than trying to stop it happening. There will come a point at which they realise it’s going to happen and that continued opposition only makes a good deal less likely.

      But I cannot stress enough that this requires absolute determination and persistence and resilience on the part of our (necessarily SNP) political leaders. The slightest sing that they are beatable and the British will go for that weak spot wherever it may be. It’ll get rough. I suspect that is why Nicola Sturgeon and her colleagues are not going for it. They must know that there is no route to independence that does not involve acrimonious confrontation with the British political elite. But they keep trying to avoid that confrontation. Because that’s not the kind of politics they do.

      They’re going to have to learn! And fast!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Absolutely! I think that is precisely the point. Anybody with a brain, even those in government, realises that there is no route to independence that does not at some point involve direct confrontation with the British state. To some extent, all sorts of little versions of this are happening all over the place all the time. Most folk realise too that when independence happens it will only be because the Brits have seen some advantage in it and have their own people in place. Under such circumstances, our leaders are not only to be found in politics but must surely also include popular commentators, bloggers and other influential folks. Of whom, your good self 🙂


  2. That it’s not the catalogue of missed opportunities we’ve witnessed since 2014 but a crafty waiting game”.

    What are these missed opportunities we keep being told about? When has there been a point where independence was there for the taking? When has independence been the undisputed majority view of the Scottish people making a speedier bid for independence anything but doomed to failure?

    There is nothing “crafty” about the SNPs “waiting game”. It has been their avowed policy since indyref1. They have always said they would only go for indyref2 when they were almost certain of winning it. It is only now that that is looking likely to be the case. Independence, the SNP and the FM have unprecedented levels of sustained support that bodes well for next Spring’s Holyrood elections. The “non-intelligent” Indy supporters have every right to feel a tad chipper about that.

    Had the SNP just thrown caution to the wind and gone for it on the back of a favourable poll or two, with no guarantee of even being able to deliver the referendum never mind victory, it could have destroyed any hope of independence for decades to come …. if ever.

    It can be argued that it is the impatient doom-sayers who are becoming increasingly “desperate” as their prophecies of SNP failure look like crumbling before them. Perhaps the SNP were right all along …. oops!


    1. June 2016, when the Brexit vote was announced, was one sure missed opportunity.
      There have been others.. Like when SNP MPs walked out of House of Commons.
      There was Theresa May’s non reply to Nicola Sturgeon’s first request for another Independence vote, and other points since now and then.
      The fact Northern Ireland was given a special status within EU and UK, etc, etc, etc.
      There has indeed been plenty of missed opportunities.
      The Borders concerns over the Coronavirus being another glaring example.

      In fact, with each passing day, we begin to wonder if this SNP leadership is actually doing everything it can to oppose Independence, while still trying to hang onto the votes of those who do want it, Labour style.
      The problem for us, being there is no proper alternative as yet.
      Not one of the recently formed pro Independence List Parties, seem up to it at this moment in time.
      But SNP simply cannot just keep expecting us to vote for them, to get nothing in return.
      Actions speak louder than words, and just now, SNP actions leave far too much to be desired.
      And the present situation cannot be allowed to go on indefinitely, at same time.

      We all still hope SNP will see sense, and take the initiative, but the longer they keep up their current path, the more we are bound to wonder.

      Something new has to happen for this country. What and how that new thing will be, I don’t know, but continuing as it is presently, is not an option for Scotland.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I reckon the biggest opportunity missed was the 2015 UK general election. The momentum from the first referendum and its aftermath carried the SNP through that election – without any special effort from the party – and on to a stunning victory. It should have been clear then that this momentum had the potential to do much more so long as it was sustained. It wasn’t. The SNP let all that energy go to waste.

        It should be said that it wasn’t just the SNP. As ever, a large part of the Yes movement was also involved in and/or supportive of these errors of judgement. It wasn’t just the SNP saying it was too soon to launch a drive for a new referendum. It wasn’t only the SNP that mocked and derided people like myself who insisted a new date should be set – #Referendum2018. There were plenty of voices in the wider Yes movement urging a softly-softly approach then, just as there still are now.

        Only a blinkered fool – or a shit-stirring troll – would deny the missed opportunities. Or someone who is just plain ignorant of the facts and too stupid to work out the implications of those facts even if they could recognise them.

        It fills me with despair to think of what might have been had the SNP been led by someone who possessed imagination as well as all the undeniable abilities which Nicola Sturgeon has in abundance. A little imagination and a dash of boldness. The momentum from the 2015 UK general election would have been maintained and boosted by the EU referendum campaign which in turn would have taken us into the campaign for a new referendum in September 2018 riding the crest of an unstoppable wave. We would have celebrated our Independence Day a year later and wouldn’t have Brexit looming over us now.

        It could all have been so different.


      2. So I’m a “blinkered”, “shit stirring troll” who is just too “ignorant” and “stupid” to have noticed what the apparently enlightened ones have seen as glaring opportunities to have achieved independence before now then? Cheers😞

        All you and Gordon have done is list “events”. You have not explained how these “events” would have easily translated into slam dunk independence. Throughout all the time period in which these “events” occurred, barring a short lived spike after Brexit, support for independence remained stubbornly below 50%, as did support for the SNP. Any opportunistic dash for indy under those circumstances would have been a long shot at best. And in any case, you have not outlined what form this “dash” would have taken. Only that, somehow, magically, it would have led to independence.

        Without sustained majority support for independence, any gung-ho, up-and-at-em, death or glory snap dash for indy (whatever that might be) would have been the political equivelant of sending the troops over the top on the Western Front into withering fire. There would have been no way back for the Indy movement for decades at least if, as was overwhelmingly likely, the cause was lost.

        I would rather build support for indy steadily and achieve Indy within 7-8 years of indyref1 than go for a hopeful punt at the first “opportunity” (sic) and probably never see it in my lifetime. If you can explain to me how these “opportunities” “should” have led to independence, I’ll change my mind. Personal attacks don’t convince me of anything …. politically at least.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. One thing is for sure.

    If we do nothing they will crush Scotland. They will make sure we can never be independent.

    If we go for it and lose. They will crush Scotland anyway.

    So we need to win. Because option 1 and 2 above are the end of the road.

    The strategy needs to be right. But doing nothing (waiting), is not a strategy. That just leads back to scenario one.

    We have to face this battle sooner or later.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I reactivated my account and reinstated the Fecaboko share button to try it out after reports that the ‘issue’ had been resolved. It has for others, apparently. But as you note, not for this site. Whether I delete the account again or not is something I’ve yet to decide. For the moment, it costs me nothing to keep it. It would be just my luck if I deleted it only for somebody to tell me again that the issue was resolved and… well… so it goes on.

      It does seem now to be possible to post a link in a Fecaboko comment – as opposed to using a share button – without it being refused or deleted. It’s an option. Thanks for at least trying.

      It may be worth noting in passing that the URL blocking doesn’t seem to have affected my stats. Not that I’m an expert. I barely look at site stats. But the view count seems to have remained fairly consistent.


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