Old story or new

If you prefer to listen then you’ll find an audio version of this article on my podcast site.

Yet again, the polls are being used to divert our attention from… the polls! The triumphant proclamation and ostentatious celebration of every upward blip in support for Yes is intended to disguise the fact that support for independence is around ten points below where we might reasonably expect it to be given the near-ideal circumstances for a campaign to end the Union.

The only reason the polls aren’t higher is Nicola Sturgeon’s failure to take advantage of these circumstances. It is a failure of strategic political thinking stupefying in its self-serving stupidity. A series of appalling misjudgements – such as committing to the Section 30 process and choosing to fight Brexit rather than the Union – has left the independence movement in disarray and Scotland’s cause in a precarious state.

Even disregarding the failure to capitalise on the momentum the Yes campaign had in the early years of Sturgeon’s tenure as First Minister and all the missed opportunities that predate the public health crisis, we need to be honest with ourselves about where we are at this time. Where we should now have been consolidating a significant lead in the polls in preparation for the final push using the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections to obtain a mandate for a Manifesto for Independence, we are facing the prospect of another five years without any progress towards restoring Scotland’s independence. Five years in which the British political elite will continue to systematically dismantle Scotland’s democracy and put new impediment in the way of Scotland’s cause.

Even if the margin-of-error ‘soaring’ of the polls above 50% could confidently be regarded as increased support for independence rather than fluctuations attributable to other factors, it is not enough to prevent the same polls as are now being hailed as the harbingers of victory being used to rationalise yet further pusillanimous procrastination after the election. Had polling been hovering around 60%, as it should, then Sturgeon would have had to find another excuse for delay. That might embarrass even someone who shows not the slightest embarrassment over the way she has failed to provide the independence movement with the leadership it needs. Or anything else, for that matter.

I totally reject the foolish notion that Sturgeon has forsaken the aspiration to restore Scotland’s independence. But I cannot do other than conclude that this aspiration has been overtaken by self-interest and an unwillingness to participate in the kind of confrontational politics which would necessarily be involved in any serious effort to end the Union. It is difficult to avoid labeling this reluctance political cowardice. Mostly, a fear of losing which severely impairs her judgement.

Time is short. Scotland’s predicament has never been so perilous. We simply cannot afford to let the weaknesses of one individual jeopardise our cause and our nation. If the SNP goes into the election now less than 50 days away without a manifesto which includes an unequivocal commitment to the actions set out in the Manifesto for Independence the opportunity of this democratic event will be lost as were so many others in the last seven years. We cannot be at all confident that another such opportunity will present itself. We cannot be sure of being able to create such an opportunity. We absolutely must seize this chance.

However these polls may be presented by those whose loyalty to Nicola Sturgeon is greater than their allegiance to Scotland’s cause, they tell a story of past and continuing failure. We have only days to ensure that this story ends here. We have only days to start writing a new story.

15 thoughts on “Old story or new

  1. I wish there was a button as well as ‘Like’ to indicate that I think your article is spot on but I hate the truth of what it’s saying. My husband who, at one time, thought Nicola Sturgeon was a good thing for the SNP now refers to her as ‘the jellyfish’. For myself, the only time I speak in her support is to people who oppose independence and that’s because I wouldn’t like to provide them with any ammunition

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that Nicola Sturgeon has not lost the aspiration for Scotland to be Independent.

    I just don’t think she cares about it enough – in her totem pole of priorities it’s on one of the lower rungs labelled under the generic the “nice to have” category.

    Regarding the forthcoming election the only ‘war’ that the SNP will be fighting is the one to retain Nicola Sturgeon in situ as FM and leader of the party.

    I will not die for that particular cause.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Let’s just finish the stale old story. Start the new story with the SNP reunited before the election, adopt Manifesto For Indy, and win a resounding victory for Independence supporting parties in May. In finishing the old story next week Nicola Sturgeon can leave government at least semi-graciously.


    1. I hope you’re right but at the moment I’m in the Slough of Despond as far as independence in my lifetime is concerned.


    2. Fine but for the “Independence supporting parties” bit. Only the government can act. Therefore only the party of government matters. The rest is pointless, ineffectual fluff. Voting for parties that have no chance of forming a government serves only to weaken the mandate. But some people have to see the damage before they understand the risk.


        1. The SNP is already governing with the support of the Greens. As things stand, that’s how it will be after the election. But we have to always bear in mind that these are not normal times and this is not just another election. This is the election which we are hoping will open the final chapter in the turbulent history of the Union. For that to happen we will need a government with a very powerful mandate. An exceptionally powerful mandate. The kind of mandate won in 2011. Or better.

          We know what the ingredients of such a mandate are. Unfortunately, we now have a Scottish Government that appears shit-scared of even asking for that mandate lest it be expected to use it. We have a party of government which has been taken over by a clique of crazies for whom restoring independence is not a priority. And we have a Yes movement which seems intent on finding every way possible to weaken the mandate.

          So, we’re all but certainly fucked.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel as peeliewallie does but who would be the new leader. I can think of no one within the SNP who would cut the mustard of having determination, a fighter, a concise rebutter, a motivator, an orator, a vision – in short, a leader.

    For me the biggest tragedy is the time wasted since 2014 to sell our vision and only then put it to the people.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sell which vision? There are hundreds. Maybe thousands depending on how fine we make the distinctions. There is not one of those visions which won’t be rejected by some section of the population.

      Change the mindset! Get away from the idea that the constitutional normality of independence is something which must be sold. Start from the certainty that the constitutional anomaly of the Union is something that has to be justified.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fair enough but I live in an area where there are loads of comfortable lifestyle No voters – some soft No’s but they need more than the constitutional normality of independence to bring them over.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Kate Forbes is the MSP for the constituency in which I reside. She was appointed to her cabinet position at the pleasure of Nicola Sturgeon and to my certain knowledge she has not meaningfully campaigned for Scottish Independence during the lifetime of this current parliament.

      The sycophantic follow my leader approach religiously adhered to by her and the majority of the SNP MSPs is there for all to see and the tragedy is there is no active campaign within the grassroots membership of her party to challenge that mindset and lack of commitment on her part.


      1. It is not true to say that there is no “active campaign within the grassroots membership” of the SNP trying to restore the party to what it was before Nicola Sturgeon and the clique of crazies took over. But it is not easy. All forms of democratic accountability within the party have been closed down or are so tightly controlled there is no way they can be used by those seeking to return control of the party to the membership. And the Covid crisis makes any kind of public protest all but impossible.

        I had high hopes of a group called SNP Members for Independence. I thought it might develop into a powerful internal lobby. But I quit the group when it became more concerned with promoting daft games on the regional ballot than with trying to get the SNP back on track.

        Now Scotland is the last remaining hope. We have a National Assembly tomorrow. If nothing comes out of that then I see only another five years of dithering an delay while the SNP sinks ever deeper into the mire of factionalism an Nicola Sturgeon, supported by what’s developing into a nice wee personality cult, grows ever more paranoid and vengeful.

        Liked by 1 person

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