When Mhairi Black describes the Scotland Office as “little more than a Tory propaganda unit” she reveals a significant part of the misguided thinking which has made the SNP so woefully ineffectual as the political arm of Scotland’s independence movement. It is clear from this and other statement made by Mhairi Black and many of her colleagues that they the constitution issue – if at all – only through an ideological fog of partisan anti-Tory sentiment. The reality is that the Scotland Office – or the ‘UK Government in Scotland’ – is an unelected and unaccountable shadow administration-in-waiting. What Mhairi Black refers to as a “tory propaganda unit” is actually a British Nationalist propaganda unit.
This British Nationalist propaganda unit is not there to help spin Tory policy, although it may do so incidentally. Why would the British government need to ‘spin’ policies it has the power to impose regardless of what the people of Scotland want? It’s main purpose is to help prepare the ground for a transfer of power away from the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government to the UK Government in Scotland. It is tasked with undermining the Scottish Government and delegitimising the Scottish Parliament as part of the process of rolling back the devolution settlement and, ultimately, recreating the UK as a single unified state, indivisible and indissoluble.
It is not difficult to understand Mhairi Black’s detestation of the Tories. It is a sentiment I share. But I do not let my abhorrence of the Tories distract me from the fact that the enemy is the British state. The enemy is the structures of power, privilege and patronage which persist and wield power regardless of which of the British parties is in office. The two-party-and-a-bit system of British politics helps keep those structures of power, privilege and patronage intact and functioning to the benefit of a few and at whatever cost to the many by serving as a distraction. Mhairi Black appears to be distracted.
The whole SNP leadership and senior management as well as most of the party’s elected representatives in Holyrood and in Westminster have allowed themselves to be distracted from their primary role as the political arm of the independence movement by this anti-Tory agenda and other agendas only tangentially related – at best – to the constitutional issue. Four years of obsessing about Brexit stands as a perfect example. And if further evidence of this loss of focus is required then we need look no further than the parties internal policy disputes.
Some will point to the fact that Mhairi Black followed her pitifully shallow and totally misguided assessment of the Scotland Office and its propaganda operation with a statement about independence. Look at that statement.
“It is clearer than ever, that the only way to protect Scotland’s interests and our place in Europe is to become an independent country. People in Scotland deserve the right to choose our own future instead of having it dictated to us.”
Doesn’t it look familiar? It should. Because it is almost word-for-word what we hear from all those in the higher echelons of the SNP as dressing on some attack on the Tories – or on those within the SNP and the Yes movement who decline to support whatever agenda is uppermost in the minds of those reciting that passage above as if it is something learned by rote and drained of meaning by repetition. All the sincerity is in the anti-Tory sentiment, not the anti-Union sentiment. All the emotion is used up on denouncing and decrying anyone who presumes to prioritise the constitutional issue over the fight against the Tories or some reform hobby-horse. There is little or no passion left for Scotland’s cause.
We must reignite that passion. We must refocus the SNP on the constitutional issue. We must demand that they set aside the various distracting agendas and concentrate on the primary objective as set out in the party’s constitution.
Some say that we should give up on the SNP. They insist that there is absolutely no possibility of persuading the party leadership to put independence back at the top of the agenda where it belongs. They suggest various cunning plans for proceeding without the SNP. But what none of these ‘alternatives’ takes due account of is the inescapable fact that whether we like it or not the SNP is and will for the foreseeable future remain the de facto political arm of the independence movement. Scotland’s cause cannot possibly succeed without the active participation of the Scottish Government and only the SNP can possibly form that government. Follow the logic!
Any ‘alternative’ to the SNP must inevitably lead back to the SNP. There is no ‘alternative’ which does not in the end require the effective political power that only the SNP can provide. The choice is not between getting the SNP back on track or something else because whatever the something else is it will still eventually require that we get the SNP back on track.
My argument is that the Yes movement should not allow itself to be distracted in the way that the SNP has. We should not waste time and resources pursuing cunning plans which can only bring us back to the same problem of getting the SNP leadership re-focused on the constitutional issue. If we are going to be obliged to do this anyway down the line, why not do it now?
The British will not be wasting any time. Their plans to subsume Scotland into the latest iteration of the Greater England project proceed apace. It is frankly astonishing that the SNP can be so evidently blind to what is happening right under their noses. They need to be reminded. They need us to remind them.
9 thoughts on “Distracted”
An excellent article and echoes my thought entirely. The SNP and those who want independence must get to grips with the fact it is not just the Tories. The British state, the unseen elite will fight tooth and nail, will fight dirty and use every trick at their disposal to keep Scotland in the Union. Given Faslane, Scottish Water, oil, and land resources Scotland is too valuable to let go . People will say to me ‘don’t you think the Scot. Government know this? ’ . Hopefully they do and are prepared.
Absolutely perfect assessment .Labour led by SIR Keir Starker is equally a fully paid up establishment figure succinctly and aptly described by Kevin McKenna as Tory minister without portfolio
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I don’t think they are blind to the takeover Peter. They know exactly what is happening!
I think they are just clueless and feart to do anything about it. You have written many times about how waiting became Nicola’s strategy. That is it in a nutshell. She is not pro-active, she is re-active. I am not sure she has the guile to take the necessary steps to protect Scotland.
Indeed I am beginning to think she no longer cares about anything other than her own PR and the Covid machine. Nicola is the greatest obstacle on the path to independence.
The question is , what can we do?
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Big Jock, in order to achieve progress Nicola Sturgeon must be removed from office and that must be at the behest of the SNP MSPs who we elected to Holyrood. To date they have shown no appetite to challenge the strategy being imposed by Nicola Sturgeon, her husband? and the cabal with which they surround themselves.
That suggests to me that some form of cult of the personality is dictating party policy which by its current form will not in any way permit progress towards Scottish Independence. What must be of greater concern is that those same SNP MSPs might agree with this process and quite gladly hide amongst the petticoats of their Blessed Nicola Sturgeon in the full knowledge that they are collaborating in the capitulation of Scotland’s standing as a Nation State to the British Establishment represented by a parliament not of our choosing in another country.
Nicola Sturgeon will not lead our country to Independence. She has deliberately blocked that route by her considered and consistent approach in insisting that a Section 30 order must be first of all begged from a Westminster Parliament carrying no mandate in Scotland. As for Mhairi Black she was subsumed by the Westminster cult long ago.
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Good assessment, with which I agree, with one addition
There are two ways to influence a political party or movement
1 via internal democracy and lobbying.
Now difficult in the SNP as internal democracy as been dismantled by the current leadership clique. The recent NEC election was a step in the right direction, but until Conference and National Council are restored, and given how supine the MSP group are, it’s difficult to see how that will be achieved. Hat tip to Gerry Fisher by the way. He lost his long battle to protect the constitution of the party and the rights of the membership, but at least he saw the danger and went down fighting
2 create an external electoral threat.
That’s one of the functions of ISP. To be the little engine that starts the big engine. The rabid hostility shown to us during the last few months by the more excitable end of SNP support showed me that such people are, in their hearts, insecure about the direction of the SNP. We will ONLY be a threat to the SNP if they fail to deliver, and we survive, and then only a fair way in the future. The reaction was exactly how Labour used to respond to the SNP, in the early days. Rabid tribal hostility out of all proportion to the actual threat. As an aside, it was Labour’s deranged hostility to the SNP that caused me to join the latter in 1988. History has repeated in that regard for me as it was the same hostility to ISP that caused me to join them! haha! Anyway, I digress.
3 Do both! Somehow we have to get the SNP back on track, or we are in for a long haul.
The ISP is NOT an electoral threat to the SNP. The only thing these snake-oil ‘parties’ threaten is the pro-independence majority. Fortunately, that’s not a very serious threat. These carpetbaggers and ego-trippers are a pointless distraction. Unfortunately, as with RISE, a lot of people won’t learn until it’s too late.
There is another way to bring pressure to bear on the SNP. A united Yes movement speaking with one voice and representing perhaps tens of thousands of voters would be a powerful force. So it’s a pity the movement is riven with the cancer of factionalism, of which ISP is one malignant cell.
I’ve no time for fantasy politics. We can’t afford it.
LOL. On the subject of ‘rabid hostility’.
Again. ISP are not a threat to the SNP AT THIS TIME. And won’t be for an electoral cycle at least.
So why the OTT response from the SNP end of the ground?
Answer: because more SNP members than care to consciously admit it know that the SNP has lost it’s way, just as Labour did, long before it fell.
I see that underneath your subsequent post regarding the strange stance taken by the SNP on the EU deal you suggest we might need another party for the next WM election and on. I agree. Some of us have got started on that. SNP 1, even if you have to hold your nose to do it. ISP2
That “rabid hostility” remark should tell folk all they need to know. They too might notice the similarities to the kind of hectoring, derogatory, pejorative language favoured by the Woke mob. That similarity is not so surprising. They are just different manifestations of the cancerous factionalism that kills causes.
I’ve heard all your arguments. I’ve had all my questions dodged. I’ve looked at what you’re flogging. And I am not fucking interested. I’m nobody’s sucker.