Having somewhat redundantly reminded us how the British government has ignored every mandate won in every relevant election Mhairi Black asks “why on earth will it be any different after next year’s Holyrood election?” Her answer, more than somewhat disappointingly, is that we should keep on doing what we have been doing on all those other occasions when the mandates won be what we’ve been doing have been contemptuously brushed aside by the British political elite.
Her advice is that we should keep on “demonstrating that no matter how hard we try to change Westminster and the UK as a whole, Scotland will always be an afterthought and never the priority”. Meanwhile, there is absolutely no reason to believe that the British political elite will change its attitude as a result of por-independence activists continuing to do what pro-independence activists have been doing for many decades – demonstrating what should already be obvious to all but those who will deny any evidence to preserve their ‘precious’ Union.
The word from Mhairi Black seems to be that the SNP’s battle cry going into the 2021 Holyrood election might be mildly paraphrased as,
“Onward and onward! Then onward some more!”
Inspired? Nor I!
What we are not seeing is a single word about what the SNP intends to do with another mandate. Hopefully, the biggest one yet. There’s the boilerplate rhetoric urging Yes supporters to keep on doing what they have been doing and for the most part would continued to do without any urging from Mhairi Black or anyone else because they actually want Scotland’s independence restored. But there is not a single word about how the SNP in government intends to set about restoring Scotland’s independence.
What Mhairi does promise us is that Scotland shall continue to be treated with casual-to-vicious contempt by the British state. And that, we are assured, is a good thing. Because it gives the SNP in government an endless supply of slights and insults and abuses and denigrations to protest.
The problem an increasing number of Yes activists have is that they see no end to this. Worse! They see that the SNP is unable or unwilling to show them an end to it. The British state has an endless supply of slights and insults and abuses and denigrations. It can continue to provide these for as long as the SNP Scottish Government is content to run a grievance mill rather than the engine that will drive Scotland onward to independence. There is no end in sight. No end in prospect. No end planned. Not even the promise of an end.
Unless, that is, you accept the assurance that if we just keep on doing what we have always done and the British state keeps on doing what it has always done, then the Union will one day spontaneously collapse. What will make it collapse is not clear. What is clear is that the SNP is not proposing to do anything to precipitate that collapse.
Yes activists are frustrated and exasperated because they see no end. The SNP points excitedly to poll results as if these are what will make the difference. As if 60% or 65% or maybe 70% will be the magic tipping point at which the British state just gives up – without the SNP Scottish Government actually doing anything. But, just as increasing numbers of Yes activists see before them only an interminable cycle of campaigning for mandates that aren’t connected to any action, so they see themselves endlessly campaigning for better poll standings that aren’t connected to any process.
More and more Yes activists are looking for the action that will break the cycle and the process that will connect that hard-won support to the exercise of Scotland’s right of self-determination. A few have just given up completely. Some have gone off to search for a ‘holy grail’ solution in the courts or the electoral system. The sensible ones see that it’s all meaningless unless the SNP in government is prepared to take the action that Mhairi Black so conspicuously disdains to describe as she strives to convince us that it will be different after next year’s Holyrood election. Strives and, as far as this writer is concerned, totally fails.
It will only be different if we make it different. If we make it different! Not if we wait for the British state to make it different. Because we sure as hell ain’t gonna like the outcome of that! Not if we wait for the polls to make it different. Because like the much-hyped ‘super-majority’, polls can’t actually do anything to bring about the restoration of Scotland’s independence. Only an SNP Scottish Government can do that. Only an SNP Scottish Government with a ‘super-mandate’ can take the necessary action. Only an SNP Scottish Government can formulate, initiate and prosecute a democratic process that can lead to the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status.
Only an SNP preparing for government can connect Yes activists and public support to that process. Only if the SNP is openly preparing to be the government that is instrumental in restoring Scotland’s independence – only if the party declares an unshakable determination to take specific action for that purpose – will we all be able to see an end to the waiting and hoping and the disappointment and frustration.
That commitment to action must feature most prominently in the SNP’s manifesto for the 2021 Scottish Parliament election. Then the party will have a meaningful answer to Mhairi Black’s rhetorical question,
“So why on earth will it be any different after next year’s Holyrood election?”.
Because we are going to make it different.