For Scotland’s sake, end this!

Yesterday I wrote an almost entirely tongue-in-cheek piece about lying politicians. Or politicians who lie. Or political lies. There are subtle differences here depending on one’s perspective and the words used. Much like in the case of politicians who tell lies and political lies told by (or on behalf of) politicians. A difference which seems to have more to do with the credibility of the politician doing the lying than with the veracity or lack thereof, in what is said.

What I’m suggesting is this: Suppose a scenario in which two politicians (or political actors) make identical statements simultaneously and in identical circumstances. The veracity of this statement – or should that be “these statements”? – is contested in precisely the same manner and terms in both cases. My thesis is that despite all this commonality it is still possible for one statement to be deemed true and the other not. Or at least, one more true than the other. The difference having nothing to do with the content or context of the statement(s), these being stipulated as identical. I contend that it is nonetheless possible for the truthfulness of the statement to be judged differently. One may be deemed a common lie, the other a political lie.

The political lie is a special class of falsehood. Rather like a white lie, but with some kind of legal standing. The political lie has been formally recognised as a special class of lie, perhaps most notably in the case of Alistair Carmichael MP (still!) and the so-called ‘Frenchgate’ affair. Readers may check the details of this incident for themselves – indeed I encourage you to do so – but it will be sufficient for our purposes to state only that Carmichael lied, admitted he lied, but was deemed not to be culpable. His lying was held not to be an “illegal practice” in term of electoral law such as would disqualify him from holding elected public office. He had told a political lie.

I recall that at the time of the affair referred to as ‘Frenchgate’ only because the ‘Alistair Carmichael is a Lying Bastard Affair’ identifies both the offence and the offender and that is against the rules of the British political game when the offender is a British Nationalist and the offence a political lie. Had it been some other political figure say for example and picking a name entirely at random, Alex Salmond, the incident would undoubtedly have been titled eponymously. That’s just the way it works.

Anyway! I recall at the time of the ‘Alistair Carmichael is a Lying Bastard Affair’ – this was during the post-referendum surge in support for the SNP that the party leadership made such a fine job of not exploiting – many in the Yes movement (OK! Me!) smugly maintaining that the political lie is a characteristic of British politics not found in Scottish politics. Which was nonsense, of course, because the political lie is a characteristic of politics. And politics is universal.

There are lies and liars in Scottish politics just as there are in politics the world over. Just as there are in life. And all of life is politics. Politics, as I have noted previously, is the management of power relationships. All human interactions at every level from the interpersonal to the international are transactions in the currency of power. We are all doing politics all of the time. We are simply accustomed to calling it politics only when it come to matters of public policy and the people charged with formulating and implementing public policy. All of life is politics. All of living is doing politics. And where there is politics there is dishonesty.

People cheat. In conducting those transaction in the currency of power people naturally seek the greatest advantage at the least cost. Cheating can be a way of doing this. Which doesn’t mean we all cheat all of the time; because there can also be costs associated with cheating which might outweigh any advantage. Being good at managing power relationships (politics) means having the ability to accurately and instantaneously weigh the pros and cons of cheating and make choices based on that assessment which turn out to be ‘right’ at a level higher than the average. There’s rather more to it, of course. But the ability to know when cheating is worthwhile is a hugely important part of politics; whether we’re talking about politics in the sense of parties and parliaments or in the sense of people and social situations.

This being so, it is easy to see how the political lie might evolve. A form of cheating with no or negligible associated cost is very desirable to those seeking extraordinary power. That is to say, effective political power. The power to effect change.

The political lie is ‘a thing’ because it serves the interests and purposes of established power that it should be ‘a thing’; and established power has the ability to make it ‘a thing’. It’s one of the ways in which established power becomes and remains established. Alistair Carmichael’s lie was deemed a political lie not because he is loved and respected or because he has something of worth to offer society, but because it is convenient that there should be such a thing as the political lie – the lie that can be told without unfortunate consequences befalling the lying bastard. Consequences, that is, beyond my being able to call him a lying bastard with total impunity, because he admitted to the ‘lying’ bit and the ‘bastard’ bit is fair comment.

There are liars, lies and political lies in Scottish politics. This will come as a shock only to those so credulous as to require the protections of a state institution. As electors, our role in the system is to identify the liars and distinguish between the lies and the political lies. We have to decide not only whether a politician or political actor is lying but whether the lie is such as should carry an electoral cost.

Either Sue Ruddick is lying, or Anne Harvey is lying. Either Nicola Sturgeon is lying or Alex Salmond is lying. Either Peter Murrell is lying or I’m a giant squirrel. Either lots of people are lying or lots of other people are lying. And I, for one, am sick of it!

I am well past caring what the outcome is, I just want an end to all of this. I don’t pretend to possess some cantraip capacity for discerning truth in words or truthfulness in people, but I sure as hell know a transaction in the currency of power that has gone disastrously wrong. It is beyond doubt that at the centre of this vortex there is a power struggle between Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond. We don’t need to know every detail of who said or did what to whom in whose company or when to recognise that what may well have started as a run-of-the-mill tussle has escalated to a point where there can be no winners, only losers. Everybody loses. The longer it goes on, the heavier the losses.

It’s not like we don’t have other and by any impartial measure more pressing matters to deal with. Scotland is under threat. It is absolutely no exaggeration to say that everything we understand Scotland to be and everything we aspire for Scotland to become and even the illusions of Scotland we cling to is in peril. Change is coming. Change is underway. If we don’t seize control of that process then change will be imposed on us in the same way that so much has been imposed on us over three centuries of an abominable political union that was itself imposed on us. We need to be dealing with that. We do not need the distraction of a war of attrition between two of our nation’s most able and distinguished politicians.

It was generally supposed, I think, that the two inquiries currently in progress would lead to a resolution – one way or another. The parliamentary inquiry has descended into a sub-Rixian farce. All it needs is for one of the lead players to suffer an embarrassing wardrobe mishap and the piece will be complete. The investigation led by James Hamilton QC into the behaviour of the leading lady is probably not going to be an end to the matter on its own. Particularly given the possibility of resort to the political lie. I just want them to bring down the curtain on a performance that shames our entire nation.

Pardon me as I refer to yet another of my previous articles, but in Where stoppeth the buck? I wrote,

It is time for somebody at the top of the party to step up. Somebody needs to take a grip of the situation. On the inquiries looking at the behaviour of the Scottish Government and the First Minister, let the truth come out. We can deal with it. In the medium to long term the truth however bad will be far less damaging than the suppurating sores of suspicion.

I echo that sentiment here but in the form not of an angry demand, but of a desperate plea to all involved. For Scotland’s sake end this!


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14 thoughts on “For Scotland’s sake, end this!

  1. But who could step up and end this?

    Michael Russell, possibly, as it’s his job to be the conscience of the party. I suspect he shall prefer remain in his bunker, hoping to ride out the mess without getting his hands dirty.

    His recent “pause for reflection” comment tended confirm this, whereas the man in the street knows he should be suggesting Murrell resign for the good of the country.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The absence of leadership from the SNP (from a party discipline perspective) – and the sense of chaos – is remarkable. Not just in this, but in all the issues surrounding the SNP.

    I wonder whether the FM’s inability/unwillingness to delegate (or indeed allow people with talent anywhere near the ;limelight) are coming back to bite her

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That tends to be a factor when a leader is weak. In this context it may be noted that Alex Salmond was strong and confident enough to promote talent around him. Although he may now be questioning his own judgement on that.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The complete absence of wise heads in the SNP leadership hierarchy with the vision to put the interests of the people ahead of their narrow career aspirations is terrifying and does not bode well for the future. Mike Russell’s comments were worse than useless. I expected much more of him. I do not want to be part of a nation that mimics all that is worst about the UK and thinks it’s clever.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Regarding Alex Salmond the facts are:

    1. An unfair, unlawful and biased procedure, as assessed by a judge, was used against him
    2. A jury acquitted him on (2 serious and 11 frivolous) criminal charges
    3. He continues to be tried and defamed by commentators/media, most of whom have vested interests

    I believe that Alex Salmond is not fighting Nicola Sturgeon for power or for political purposes. He simply wants justice.

    And given the hell he has been though and is continuing to be subjected to why wouldn’t he?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You are correct in saying that Salmond is now fighting for justice. What I said in the article was that it started as a power struggle. Salmond wanted to get back into active politics. Sturgeon and/or the people around her saw that as a threat and decided to try and nobble him. And it all went shitwards from that point.

      Like

      1. I read somewhere, maybe on Gordon Dangerfield, that Alex Salmond wasn’t going to return to front line politics and had a position of chairman of Johnston press lined up, which fell through after the criminal charges against him.

        What a mess eh! Every day it gets worse. My daughter just sent me a link to Peter Murrell’s performance yesterday, on youtube, and asked me what I made of it…where to begin lassie!

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I reckon he was wanting to get involved in pushing for Yes/Independence. He said as much when I saw him making what the press called later called his ‘Morningside Declaration’ in May 2018 at Church Hill Theatre, Edinburgh.

        My opinion is that he wasn’t interested in the party political dimension, simply Scotland’s Cause. The end goal.

        Either way it would appear that this fed the paranoia of the Sturgeon clique and triggered their action which led to the leak to the Daily Record in August 2018, a couple of months later.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I suspect you’re probably right. Although I’m not sure how much of a sense of ownership he had for the party. But it really doesn’t matter what his actual intentions were. He would be perceived as a threat anyway.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The fact that the higher echelons of the SNP now seem to contain as many liars as the tory party does, leads me in turn to suspect that this section of the SNP probably now prefer the safety of personal power under Westminster to the great uncertainties for their future careers which would ensue after independence.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. The people who entrusted the SNP to look after the interests of political progress towards
    Scottish Independence are being shit upon from a great height by the leadership of that party ably assisted in that process, it would appear, with the tacit approval of the Scottish judiciary.

    This disastrous situation will only be retrieved by the genuine Independence seeking activists taking back control of THEIR party and not by the obsequious bastards at the top who have laid claim to our cause in the interest of self aggrandisement. The shysters currently holding the reins are in no mood for reform, neither should they again be trusted. We owe it to future generations, and the change must be implemented from below with INTEGRITY being the watchword something which has been cast aside in the lust for power and control.

    At some point we have to callout the nodding donkeys who cravenly cower behind the convenience of collective responsibility whether they be at Holyrood or Westminster. They MUST NOT be permitted to come out in the future feigning ignorance. Ah didnae ken isnae gonnae save their collective arses and weel might it suit them tae remember it!

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I don’t believe that this will be resolved amicably. Justive needs to be done, and the way that things are looking at the moment is that the current leadership of the party is lying, obfuscating, and obstructing their way deeper into the mire. If that is correct then the only correct outcome is for the good guys to win, and the key core of the bad guys to resign from both government and party and civil service. Then what ? The good guys need to be as conciliatory and forgiving of those elements of the losers who are not totally incriminated, or who simply kept quiet to protect their seat on the gravy train in order to revive the party quickly. If that sounds simplistic, it is because it is simplistic. Is it too simplistic ? I don’t know.

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    1. Simple is not simplistic. You describe an ideal outcome. Or as ideal as might be possible now that the ideal of the shit not being thrown at the fan in the first place is no longer an option. Unfortunately, there are no good guys. Only less bad guys. And only that if you don’t look to closely. Life rarely provides ideal outcomes.

      Liked by 1 person

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