The handy lie

The phrase “once in a generation” does NOT appear three times in the Edinburgh Agreement. It doesn’t appear at all in the Edinburgh Agreement. It doesn’t appear anywhere in any legally binding document relating to the 2014 referendum.

How difficult would it have been to check before making this claim? It’s bad enough that we have British Nationalist mouthpieces like Alister Jack lying about this without The National joining in.

Did it not occur to Andrew Learmonth or whoever wrote the last three paragraphs that if the Edinburgh Agreement DID contain three instances of the phrase “once in a generation” then the British Nationalists would actually have a point?

FYI – The White Paper ‘Scotland’s Future‘ contains two instances of the phrase “once in a lifetime OPPORTUNITY”. There is no mention of a once in a generation EVENT. Nor could there be. For reasons that should not need to be explained to anyone who understands the fundamental principles of democracy.

It would be good to think this woeful error might be rectified. But it almost certainly won’t. There will, however, be numerous complaints about the fact that I have drawn attention to the blunder. I wonder how many times the article will be quoted by BritNat trolls.

I despair!

Rather than the now routine outrage at some British politician’s lies it might have been more interesting and thought-provoking to consider why this phrase is being so enthusiastically weaponised by the British political elite and their lackeys in the British media. Nobody imagines they actually believe there was a solemn undertaking that the referendum would be a “once in a generation event”. As if anybody would commit to a term so vague as to be meaningless. So why are people like Alister Jack and his boss so keen to get that phrase into the media at every opportunity?

They are not, of course, addressing the SNP when they say this. Or the Yes movement. Surely everybody in the Yes movement is aware that there talk of a “once in a generation” clause is all lies. (With the exception of the folk at The National, obviously.) Nor are they addressing the lie to the people of Scotland. At least, not directly. They are talking for the benefit of the media. They are hoping to manufacture truth by means of repetition. If something is said often enough it becomes as familiar as things that are generally accepted as true. It takes on the aspect of truth through usage. Perhaps sufficiently to be indistinguishable from truth in the minds of those who don’t think to deeply about what they read in the media.

Which still doesn’t explain why the British Nationalist are working so hard to imprint on the public consciousness the idea that the SN promised there would not be another referendum for whatever number of years pops into Alistar Jack’s head when he’s spouting the “once in a generation” lie for the 43rd time since breakfast. Why would they bother with this given the other manufactured truth about Scotland needing Westminster’s permission to exercise our right of self-determination?

Thinking back, deployment of the “once in a generation” thing by BritNat trolls had begun to decline. It was always a lie that must lose its potency over time. There’s little point in bringing it up when a generation has already passed. So to some extent this may just be a case of the British Nationalists milking the lie while it still has some potential to influence voters.

But there may be more to it. It may indicate that the British government is less certain of their power to just say no to another referendum. They may be having some doubts. They may have perceived the possibility of a challenge to the British state’s asserted veto on Scotland’s right of self-determination. Not from the SNP, of course. The party remains committed to the Section 30 process by which they recognise Boris Johnson’s authority to overrule the sovereign people of Scotland. Why the self-styled party of independence would compromise the sovereignty of Scotland’s people is a question for another time. Right now, we’re asking why the British would suppose they need a backup for a power which is supposedly absolute.

Maybe the British are listening to the Yes movement more than the SNP is. Which wouldn’t be difficult given that the SNP has totally blanked all dissenting voices in both the party and the wider movement. They just ain’t listening. But the Dom Cummings-like advisers to the British political elite just might have been paying attention to the growing clamour for a different approach to the constitutional issue. They will have gamed to implications.

The British state’s strategists charged with preserving the Union will have asked themselves what happens if the campaign to force the SNP to adopt a Manifesto for Independence succeeds. They will have thought through what happens if the Scottish Government renounces the Section 30 process and decides to create its own democratic process by which the people of Scotland can exercise their right of self-determination in a free and fair referendum. Maybe they’re a bit uncomfortable with the conclusions.

If the ideal scenario were to play out and the outcome of the 2021 election was an SNP administration with a massive mandate for a Manifesto for Independence – a clear majority of seats and over 50% of the popular vote on both ballots – what options would the British have? They could challenge the Scottish Government in court. But they would have to argue that the British Prime Minister really does have the legitimate authority to overrule even the kind of popular mandate described above. They would effectively be arguing that it doesn’t matter what the people of Scotland vote for, the ultimate power to decide rests with the British Prime Minister. That’s not an enticing prospect for the legal team involved. Although the thought of the fees might make it less daunting.

If the British propagandists were casting around looking for something to buttress the argument that democracy doesn’t exist in Scotland then they might well light on the idea of the Scottish Government being in breach of an agreement. It’s not much. But it’s difficult to see what else they might have.

What we should be asking ourselves is this. If the British are so worried about the SNP / Scottish Government renouncing the Section 30 process, why is the SNP still refusing to even allow proper discussion of possible alternatives? Why is Nicola Sturgeon so determined to do what the British want her to do and so reluctant to do the things they fear?

6 thoughts on “The handy lie

  1. It’s been half-corrected, but still half-wrong, as it implies the word “event” is used, not the actual word “opportunity”. Two totally different meanings. Three times by the way, the third as an answer to those questions had hyphens for some reason:

    “A once in a generation opportunity to follow a different path”
    “A once in a generation opportunity to follow a different path”
    “a once-in-a-generation opportunity”.

    That constant carelessness in the one paper that supports Indy makes me feel like giving up.


  2. My question to The National is why they allot any newspaper space to the lies, mendacity and perfidy of Jack, Johnson, Davidson, Mundell et al?

    Are they trying to rev us up, infuriate us and fill us with rage so that we reject the British?

    People who buy the newspaper are not would-be converts – the readership are already in the Yes fold and utterly committed to The Cause.

    So what’s the point?

    Engaging with these bogus suggestions that we had our chance in 2014 (and blew it) only serves to lend legitimacy to illegitimate claims and normalise the abnormal.

    The rebuttal is quite simple and the National should print in formatted in red ink, bold, italics, block capitals and ginormous font size:


    Memo to The National: It’s Democracy, Stupid.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t fault the NATIONAL for reporting what the tories, and Labour, etc say.
      This has to be reported, and we have to learn what such traitors in Scotland say.
      However, The NATIONAL does have a tendency to appear more a mouthpiece for the SNP leadership, and their failed strategy, than as a newspaper that reports all that is happening both within the general Independence movement, and in Westminster.
      It is not a good idea to for them to be too closely linked to that failed SNP strategy.

      As for those who continue to flog the “once in generation” mush, we see plenty of avid supporters of the lie, the in The Glasgow Herald discussion pages. They focus more on a mere bit of opinion, and commonly used terminology, than the actual (and once again failed) promises made to Scotland, especially that one about staying in EU.
      However, it is a disappointing thing, that this “once in Generation” garbage was ever allowed to get to this level in the first place.
      Senior SNP politicians have failed often enough to repudiate it, thus allowing the anti Scottish element to get away with their lies.
      This stuff should have been condemned outright and loudly enough when the likes of Ruth Davidson started off with it, while ignoring her own broken promises on EU. Instead, we had a miserable lackluster response for too long.
      And so we end up with Secretary of State Jack, making up his mush over the past few days.
      And still, not a proper rebuttal.
      That is not good enough, and must change.


  3. Constantly looking back is a useful weapon deployed by a compliant UK media as it puts us constantly on the defensive where history can be rewritten through the same false or misleading repetitive assertions and through perseverance of funded organisation such as the SiU.

    As long as we are kept in this holding position the further away independence becomes, as over time it provides space for the gradual dismantling of Scottish institutions now being observed through the Westminster Internal Market Bill. Added to that the Internal SNP fighting now taking place with no end in sight, there is the potential for ‘death by a thousand cuts’ to our morale and resolve.

    The National should rightly spearhead our move towards independence but right now that is not happening simply because no-one is moving forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. While it’s not unusual for one side in a conflict to weaponise an untruth , the ludicrous aspect in our situation is that it can be 100% proven to be an untruth , it’s not as if we’re talking about an event in the distant past , subject to unreliable recollection , it’s only 6 years ago , EVERYBODY KNOWS this canard is a dead duck walking ( or quacking ) so it’s gormless repetition must be a desperate attempt to cash-in on Trump’s – at least partially – successful blatant contradictions of reality , as you say , and we’ve all seen in multiple scenarios , unrealities can be made to resemble truth simply by sustained repetition . Don’t start me on the SNP leadership’s passivity on this , and just about everything else concerning our aspirations !!


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