Can trust survive?

Lesley Riddoch is correct, of course. The stock of trust that the Scottish Government has built up over the past months and years must be used. But Lesley doesn’t go so far as suggesting how that substantial nest-egg of trust might best be employed. She rightly points out that matters are coming to a head. Again! Surely if it is time to deploy that stock of trust it must also be time for frankness about what must be done with it. Surely, if time is against us as it certainly is, then we can’t afford to be at all mealy-mouthed in the advice we offer to Nicola Sturgeon – or the demands we make of her.

The not-too-distant past offers lessons that are relevant. What is true of the political trust to which Lesley Riddoch refers is also true of political momentum. Indeed, the two are cousins in the family of political dynamics. Although it is perhaps more intuitively obvious why momentum must be used before it is lost. We all can easily imagine a car, for example, rolling to a stop when the engine is turned off. Newton’s scientific insights have great explanatory power because they express in words what we already know to be true.

In the period between the tragic result of the 2014 constitutional referendum and the EU referendum in 2016, Scotland’s cause had momentum in spades. It can be persuasively argued that this momentum peaked at the 2015 UK general election which saw an SNP landslide. Although some would say the peak came in the wake of the EU referendum when Scotland’s voters were told that their votes only count if England’s voters agree. Whatever! It cannot sensibly be disputed that the momentum was there. In the months immediately following the tragedy of Thursday 18 September 2014 that momentum was palpable. Scotland was thrumming with an energy just waiting to be harnessed and applied to the cause of restoring our independence.

It didn’t happen.

I don’t need to tell you it didn’t happen. Every thinking person in Scotland is aware that it didn’t happen. Everybody in Scotland who thinks for themselves remains to this day angry and bitter that the momentum we had back then was so casually squandered by our political leaders. Unused, the momentum dissipated. It succumbed to other political forces – the friction of time; the air resistance of events; the political inertia of the SNP.

Two years on, the loss of momentum was felt in the UK general election of 2017. By all relevant metrics, the SNP came out of that election as it went in. But the SNP is held to a different standard. The British apply different standards to themselves and others. It is an identifying characteristic. So, despite the fact that the SNP remained the largest party and all the rest, by the special ‘British’ standard it was a defeat for them and a victory for the Tories. Go figure!

I recall at the time the effort I and others put into countering the British state’s Goebbels-style portrayal of Ruth Davidson as the new ‘Hammer of the Scots’ and ‘Queen of the BritNats’. McBoudicca, anyone? But always in the back of my mind as I struggled to hold the bright banner of truth above the roiling mire of British propaganda was the thought that instead of the new referendum that was made possible by the momentum we’d had, we got this election. Instead of being on the front foot in an all-out attack on the Union, we were on the defensive yet again. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!

We shouldn’t get hooked on the the past. It’s not a trusted source of news. It is a questionable reference. We cannot replicate the past. History does not so much repeat itself as do impersonations which are often only convincing to those who want to be convinced. But there are lessons we can learn. We can find some guidance in the past. Memory is one of the inputs to the process of creating the mental maps by which we navigate from the present to the future. History may provide clues to the best route. It may also offer hints about paths we definitely should not follow.

The path chosen by the Scottish Government/SNP four, five or six years ago – according to preference – led to the loss of the momentum Yes had after 2014. The lesson to be learned is that the trust the Scottish Government/SNP has now should not be similarly squandered. Momentum can be restored. Trust, not so much! The former is, even in the political context, analogous to a mechanical force. The engine of the Yes movement is undoubtedly powerful enough to get Scotland’s cause rolling again. Trust is an emotional force. When trust is betrayed that betrayal is indelibly etched on the mind and heart of the betrayed. It may fade with time. It may be worn away by efforts to compensate. But always the betrayal remains as one of those historical warning signs telling us not to go there again.

There are more ways to lose trust than there are to earn it. And no way to fully restore it when it is lost. How wisely Nicola Sturgeon uses the trust she has banked – and it is very substantially personal – will determine Scotland’s future. It will determine whether Scotland has a future. If I am not being too cryptic, it will determine whether the future has Scotland.

Is it therefore not incumbent on those who offer analysis and commentary from the perspective of Scotland’s independence movement to ensure that the ways of losing trust are properly signposted in order that they may be avoided? Do we not all have a duty to ensure that our analysis and commentary aims to identify what is a wise course of action – both in terms of using the fund of trust for the benefit of Scotland’s cause and in the hope of retaining that trust for further use in Scotland’s interests?

Many of you will be aware that in the period of maximum momentum discussed earlier, I strongly favoured a new referendum in September 2018. The 20/20 vision of hindsight allows us to see the advantages. Critics respond by declaring with strikingly misplace certainty that we would not have won a referendum in September 2018. But this foolishly supposes that nothing is changed by the fact that the referendum has been called. Had the momentum counter-intuitively born of defeat in 2014 not been squandered it would have been available to be utilised in a referendum campaign. Calling the referendum would have increased that momentum. I am firmly persuaded that it would have been sufficient to take us across the line. Circumstances were never going to get better. They could only get worse. As they have. As they are still doing. Lesley Riddoch acknowledges that the SNP is heading for some difficult times. This was inevitable. It’s what happens in organisations unless the management is remarkably talented.

Just as political momentum can be lost to the various forces that work against it, so trust can be destroyed by errors of political judgement and other ingredients of the political explosive known as ‘scandal’. For this reason as well as the urgency imposed by Scotland’s worsening predicament under the Union, it is essential that Nicola Sturgeon acts quickly. It is also essential that she act as boldly and assertively as her stock of trust allows while that stock remains at her disposal.

Nicola Sturgeon is perfectly placed and well armed. The circumstances are amenable. The time to confront the British state is now. I’d love to say I trust Nicola Sturgeon to do so. I’d be delighted if she were to prove that she is worthy of my trust. It’s up to her.

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11 thoughts on “Can trust survive?

  1. Never agreed with you on 2018, i always felt that we needed Brexit confirmed. That’s why January 31st stuck in my craw. This should have been the year for the referendum (we didn’t know about lock downs on January 31st). Now instead of being united behind one cause, the yes movement & SNP could implode at any time ( indyref2,Alex Salmond, Joanna Cherry, Woke,NEC, GRA, Hate crime etc). You are absolutely correct that N.S needs to act quickly, as we are a runaway train heading for the cliff edge IMO.


    1. Look on the bright side. At least come the turn of the year you’ll get the Brexit confirmation you’ve been waiting for. Of course, those REALLY dedicated to the waiting strategy will then insist that we must wait some more just to see how bad it gets. The logic of the thing pursued to its necessary conclusion is that the people of Scotland will only be ready for independence when the country is lying in ruins and they are starving in whatever’s left of the streets.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Knocking it out the park with your recent posts big fella , another cracker here . Just wondering … you have any idea if blogs like your own are read by NS ? With these ” issues ” gaining more traction and respected members of the SNP becoming publicly vocal on the need for them to be addressed , quickly , it would be good to know they are being acknowledged by those that have power to do what’s necessary to stop the rot and recover the sole focus of Independence , at what is beyond doubt the 11th hour


    1. I seriously doubt if my blog is being read by Nicola Sturgeon. It may be among those read FOR her by aides who then provide her with a single-sheet, double-spaced precis of what they’ve read. That’s a single sheet of A4 for ALL the blogs, not each of them. Whether the FM reads the precis will depend on how busy she is, I suppose. But it will come along with similar ‘analysis’ of the mainstream media, so we can be fairly sure she’ll make time.

      There’s a big question mark over how aware this might make her. She’s not getting the criticism in the raw, so to speak. She only gets it cooked and strained by people who have a vested interest in not upsetting her. It’s similar to that old saw about the Queen thinking the world smells like fresh paint.

      In short, it is quite possible that the bubble around Nicola Sturgeon has become an armoured shell and that not much gets through. It is possible – even if unlikely – that she could be blissfully unaware.

      As I write this, however, I recall an occasion when she made a very derisory reference to the old #DissolveTheUnion hashtag. So she must have been aware of it. Although she clearly didn’t have a clue what it meant.

      Isn’t the apparent absence of awareness part of the problem. People have genuine concerns and valid criticism which seem to be being ignored – or grossly misrepresented as in the recent Wee Ginger Dug column. When people see that their frustration is being dismissed and that their words are being treated with disdain then they are going to grow more frustrated and start to use stronger words in the hope of getting through.

      The fact is that SNP members can’t even expect respectful acknowledgement from the party leadership and management any more. Something we used to take for granted.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes , the apparent lack of awareness is a BIG part of the problem and the idea that NS is being insulated from the growing unrest in the ranks is frustrating beyond measure , if that is indeed the case : hard to imagine also that she’s completely unaware of what’s becoming a tide of criticism from within the wider Yes Movement . I just hope it’s not too late for her to turn things around , personally and politically, if not she has to go – no individual is bigger , more important than the goal of Independence and if NS is incapable or unwilling to further that objective it’s time to step aside and let someone else take-up the challenge .

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I must say she has lost me and countless others. I used to think she had Scotland’s best interest at heart but her actions during this covid nightmare have shown her to be a true globalist and intent on bringing UN agenda forward. I have never been so disappointed in someone I used to admire. I was a fool. She could not care less about us and is crashing the economy with all her senseless restrictions.


    1. Senseless restrictions? If you really want to crash the economy then the most effective way would be to abandon those “senseless restrictions”. Pretty soon the entire budget would be required just to keep some kind of health service running. You really need to inform yourself about the way viruses operate in a population if unchecked. Start by looking up the word “exponential”.


  4. I am as frustrated as ++=+ the EU spokesperson has announced the EU are taking the uk to court citing the breach of the WA agreement which is an international treaty , in introducing the IMB which infringes the GFA and therefore negates the WA and is ILLEGAL in INTERNATIONAL LAW

    Yet Joanna Cherry who is a QC announced in the HOC that the IMB also BREACHES the TOU between Scotland and england which is also a recognised international treaty and all the SNP hierarchy talk about is the next HR election , Fuck the next HR election as soon as the IMB receives lizzies assent DECLARE the union has been dissolved , lodge a case at the UN and ICJ and inform them and the international community that due to the WM govt breaking the terms of the TOU we are once again an independent country

    Why are the SNP intent on ignoring this opportunity and why are independence supporters not SCREAMING at the SNP to take this route instead of the corrupted referendum route which EVEN if granted a sect30 it enables WM to knobble it


    1. “lodge a case at the UN and ICJ”

      No! No! No! This is the mistake far too many people make. Their first thought is to go look for some external agency that’ll sort the problem for them. Think! Why would we “lodge a case” anywhere? Our argument is that what we are doing by asserting the sovereignty of Scotland’s people and the democratic legitimacy of our Parliament is NOT illegal. It is not for us to prove that we are ‘innocent’ of doing something illegal. It is for our opponents to prove that we HAVE done something illegal. If the British want to seek help from an external agency to keep Scotland bound by the Union then let them! Let THEM “lodge a case”. Let THEM try to prove they have the authority to override the democratic will of a neighbouring nation. Why the fuck would we “lodge a case” and put the burden of proof on ourselves?

      It is a POLITICAL issue. As such, we keep it in the realm of democratic politics. To resort to the courts is to admit that you have no solution within the realm of democratic politics. Why would we admit that when our entire position is that we DO have a resolution within the realm of democratic politics? How can we assert our nationhood and all that it implies whilst simultaneously asking a court if we have a right to do so? Why would we make our nationhood the disputed issue when it is the Union that is and must be the disputed issue?

      The appropriate action happens in the appropriate place. The appropriate place for democratic politics is not a courtroom but the chamber of our democratically elected Parliament. It is our Parliament that acts to dissolve the Union. We are restoring our independence ourselves because it is what we want. We are not having it restored by some court because of something the British have done. Our Parliament TAKES power. We don’t look for some external agency to GIVE us power. Because real power is only ever taken. What is received as a gift can be lost as a penalty. Our independence is NOT in the gift of anyone. Not the British state and not the courts and not the international community.

      We DO NOT go to court. We go to the people. We DO NOT concern ourselves with legality but with democratic legitimacy. We put all our energies into ensuring that the process by which we restore our independence is impeccably in accordance with the democratic principles enshrined in various international laws and conventions. We CHALLENGE the British state to prove that its local laws take precedence over those principles. We create and control the process by which we restore our independence. We DO NOT hand control to a bunch of lawyers. We’ll never get it back!

      We DO NOT “lodge a case at the UN and ICJ”. We dare the British state to do so AFTER we have restored our independence. We dare them because there is a very good chance they will not accept the dare. There is a very good chance that their advisers will tell them they’d lose. There is an excellent chance that seeing our independence as a fait accompli and recognising that they have no way to prevent it, they will decide that there own interests are served by negotiating the best deal they can get.

      Why would we “lodge a case at the UN and ICJ” when there is no need for any court case? And if there does turn out to be a need, it is THEIR need and not ours.


  5. I have NO PROBLEM and AGREE with your reasoning and assertions , BUT NS and the SNP hierarchy are FUCKING up the opportunities we do HAVE , As you may be well aware I have asked and begged on this site and others for SNP members to take back control of their party, the ones who have tried have been ignored and sidelined the others are still of the Nicola has a grand plan mindset, ffs even some MP’S and MSP’S are getting skittish and cautiously being critical of the whole clusterfuck, BUT that is NOT even impacting on the great leaders direction, anyone who disagrees is railed against and accused of heresy (as you are aware) it is NOT the dissenters, the impatient, or the SUPPOSED fake indy supporters who are FUCKING UP our chances of indy , it IS NS ,The hierarchy of the SNP and NS apologists who WILL NOT deviate from her chosen path who will LOSE us our chance , and for that they should hang their heads in SHAME THE BLAME IS ON THEM AND HER


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