There is a fallacy underlying all that Ruth Wishart says in her column in the Sunday National which means that while she may get pretty much everything else right in her analysis, she cannot quite get to the logical conclusion. It is the fallacy which informs the entire #WheeshtForIndy effort – to which Ruth has recently added her own not inconsiderable influence. It is the fallacy that the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon is fit for purpose.
Note the risibly simplistic notions concerning those who try to point out just how unfit for the purposes of Scotland’s cause Sturgeon’s SNP is. According to the #WheeshForIndy mob we are all either too stupid to recognise the realities which make an SNP victory in May essential or we are all fake independence supporters who are wittingly or otherwise aiding and abetting some kind of Unionist plot to undermine Scotland’s independence movement by destabilising the SNP.
Question! Why would the British need to conspire thus when Nicola Sturgeon is already doing such a bang-up job – presumably without any assistance from the British?
The Unionists didn’t destroy the internal democracy of the SNP which was crucial to party unity. Nicola Sturgeon and the senior management of the party did that. They did it to protect Sturgeon from a threat that didn’t exist. Nobody was trying to depose her. Nobody stood a chance of doing so. Sturgeon was as secure as party leaders normally only dream of being. Yet she behaved as if under siege.
Alex Salmond didn’t go hunting for Nicola Sturgeon’s political scalp and bring all of Scottish politics into disrepute with a toxic mix of incompetence, dissembling and bungled arse-covering. Salmond may not have behaved impeccably while in office. But nothing he is known to have done could possibly justify the gargantuan effort mounted against him, or excuse the dreadful consequences. From the outset he has sought to introduce a sense of proportion into proceedings. He is the one who has shown concern for the impact of the whole sorry business on the party and on the independence movement. Sturgeon and her accomplices have exhibited no such concern.
Yes activists – including SNP members – didn’t remove Nicola Sturgeon from her role as the de facto leader of the independence movement. She never showed any sign of wanting that role other than for the purposes of helping win elections. She never gave the slightest indication of wanting to pursue Scotland’s cause. She allowed that cause to languish for nearly seven years giving rise to the frustration among Yes activists which is now becoming anger.
Ruth Wishart, like many other commentators, can rattle off a list of symptoms now manifest in Scotland’s politics describing each in a way that is powerful as well as accurate. But she fails to identify the cause. She determinedly ignores the common factor in all the maladies she catalogues. In every case it is what Nicola Sturgeon has done or failed to prevent which is the cause of the sickness that is jeopardising all the gains made since the first pro-independence Scottish Parliament in 2007.
The fight to restore Scotland’s independence was set fair for victory when Nicola Sturgeon took over as leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland. Seven years later the party is in disarray and the best of our fighters have been disarmed and left dispirited and despairing. All of this has happened on Sturgeon’s watch. And yet we are told we mustn’t blame or criticise her!
We are told that all we need to do to fix all the problems is vote SNP. The thing is, most of the people Ruth Wishart is addressing already know full well that we must vote SNP. We are perfectly well aware of the potentially catastrophic consequences of failure to ensure another term for Nicola Sturgeon. The difference is that we are not deceived into imagining that this alone will resolve any of the problems.
I don’t need Ruth Wishart or anybody else to lecture me on how irresponsible it would be to withdraw electoral support from the SNP at this time. But the ‘mainstream’ view represents another SNP victory as both necessary and sufficient. It confuses and conflates necessity and sufficiency. In common with most of those being condemned as political illiterates and/or Unionist dupes I recognise the reality that necessary does not necessarily imply sufficient. I see the big picture. And in that big picture an SNP victory in May is absolutely necessary. But it is absolutely not sufficient.
Being a realist I urge everyone to vote in such a way as to ensure an SNP majority government. But I do not pretend that this will be anything more than a holding action against the tide of British Nationalism threatening Scotland’s democracy and our very identity as a nation. If defeating the British Nationalist project is our priority – which it bloody well should be! – something more is needed. The SNP must not only be made the governing party it must also be restored to its role as the party of independence. A role which Nicola Sturgeon has diminished so woefully.
The question then becomes one of whether Sturgeon is the best person to effect this restoration. Can the SNP be again the extraordinarily united and willingly disciplined and impressively democratic party it once was under the leadership of the person responsible for causing the rifts and replacing willing discipline with autocratic control and dismantling or disabling all the checks and balances which safeguarded the party’s internal democracy? Can the independence movement be inspired and motivated by the individual who drove it up the blind alley of Section 30 and abandoned it there for seven years?
Of course we must vote SNP in May! Anybody who has even a modicum of political awareness knows that however bad they may perceive the SNP to be it cannot possibly be worse than the most likely alternative – a ‘Grand Alliance’ of British Parties eager to deliver Scotland trussed and tied to their masters in London.
Of course we must vote SNP in May! But we must do so in full awareness that what matters most is not the party but it’s commitment to Scotland’s cause. What matters is that we get a Scottish Government elected with an incontestable popular mandate on a manifesto which commits it to the actions necessary to initiate the process of restoring Scotland’s independence.
If Nicola Sturgeon is prepared to give such an undertaking then she may yet redeem herself and maybe even be the person who leads us to independence. If she refuses then the best we can hope for is another five years of cowardly inaction or a referendum that is as far from free and fair as it must be when British influence is licensed by a Section 30 order.
Nicola Sturgeon’s critics know that we must vote SNP. But we also care about what will be the effect of this vote. We will vote SNP. But we will not do so blindly. SNP is the only choice. But that doesn’t have to mean it can’t be an informed choice. Isn’t that what democracy requires?
10 thoughts on “Necessary! But not sufficient!”
Thanks Peter. Another clear exposition of the present realities.
You are correct in arguing that we must, at all cost, avoid electing a Unionist government. The British will merely use this outcome to facilitate the “will of the people” … against the people.
But in terms of the “question then becomes one of whether Sturgeon is the best person to effect this restoration” all the available evidence of the last 6.5 years points to an answer in the negative.
My expectations have been reset.
Nicola Sturgeon is an Empty Coat.
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Almost everything thing you have written I agree with but you come to a conclusion that is very difficult for me to accept. If you believe that NS is responsible for the loss of momentum in government for the cause of Independence, then that surely requires that she must be removed. I recognise that weeks before an election it is madness to even suggest it. However, what happens if the SNP receive a majority in May, how do we ensure the SG to move towards independence? We know how deaf they are and how easily they ignore protests when pushed on policies or Bills with which the public vehemently disagree. Therefore, what guarantee do we have that they will listen once they are back in charge? The answer is that we have no traction which we can use to change the path the SNP is currently taking and I find that the most awful prospect for the future. If you have an answer I would be delighted to hear it.
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Necessary but not sufficient sums it up. I tend to agree with most of what you write, Peter. I disagree with you on both votes for the SNP, if the list parties can unite or cooperate. Someone needs to put pressure on the SNP!
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I agree with you, we need another Independence party in HR to keep them in check, challenge them and hold them to account. I can see no other way of changing the course this government is on and one which panders to a tiny minority who have managed to enthral the FM and, consequently, many MSPs. It is worth noting that the Greens are in the background helping to push the trans agenda and at present the SNP needs the Greens support. A vote for the Greens is not an option if we want to stop this malign ideology which is having a damaging effect on democracy in Scotland.
Have a wee think about that. For the Scottish Government to do what needs to be done it needs a working majority. But you want to deprive the Scottish Government of this secure majority. Otherwise, how might your other party “keep them in check” etc? You can’t have it both ways. Either you want a Scottish Government empowered and armed to take on the British state, or you want to play silly party political games.
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So what needs to be done Peter? So far, Independence is on a back burner, very unpopular policies have created unnecessary anger and fear and the issue between Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond shows no sign of abating and has created division in Scotland. What suggestion do you have for navigating the coming election?
Independence is not on the back burner. It has never left the forefront of Scottish politics. It informs every political issue in the country. It is just that the SNP intend to win the next indyref and refuse to rush the barricades every time a blogger “tells” them to. Independence really would have been dead and buried years ago had they done so. By last Summer their policy of actually demonstrating the benefits of Independence and the limitations of the Union, rather than just expecting the electorate to take their word for it was paying dividends. Then, on cue, up popped the Malcontents to pull it all down. The Wings devotees are now advocating voting Tory among many other destructive things. The toys are very much out of the pram.
As to the “very unpopular policies”…. unpopular with who? Despite what leading Wings polls might indicate, I doubt the great mass of Scottish voters are greatly animated by the HCB or GRA. Both are necessary in some form whether Scotland is independent or not; or led by the SNP or not. Every country in Europe has already addressed them or is in the process of It. It is telling that all the negativity that besets the Indy movement at the moment largely stems from the personal obsessions of one blogger …. one increasingly unhinged blogger.
Hello Me Bungo Pony, I respect your opinions although I do not agree with them but I would like to address your view of the HCB and reform of the GRA. You say that many Scottish voters are not interested in them. There has been anger in Scotland for the last few months over both of these Bills most recently the HCB but you dismiss them by saying that they are necessary in some form in Scotland. Necessary for whom exactly? The trans community in Scotland is a minority of less than 1% of the population and who have the legal rights of every other human being living in Scotland. Reform of the GRA will destroy the very hard-won rights of women and girls and the redefinition of the word women to include men will erase women’s identity. Reform of the GRA will also enable gender self-ID by allowing any man to say he is a woman and demand access to women’s legally-protected, safe, single-sex spaces. This will put women and girls at even further risk from predatory and abusive men. For women, this is unacceptable particularly because there is no evidence that the consequences of gender self-ID on women and girls was ever considered. No risk assessment has ever taken place or consideration of the potential for harm. Women will not allow any man to access their safe spaces and we will fight with everything we have to stop this Bill from being enacted in law.
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Hi rew1008. I fully appreciate some people are angry about the HCB and the GRA. Most have been, in my opinion, “radicalised” by bloggers keen to assert their authority over the Indy movement.
I have NEVER had a conversation with anyone outside a blog about the HCB. None of my family, friends or colleagues have ever even mentioned it. As I said, I doubt the electorate are much bothered by it. All it really does is gather together already existent legislation into one Act. The only new thing, as far as I know, is the crime of “stirring up hatred” which is not that controversial surely. Certain bloggers have hyped any concerns way beyond reasonable but then, they would, wouldn’t they.
As to the GRA, I have had conversations at work over this. It is the youngsters in the lab who are most interested in it …. and they are supportive of it. As Indy is dependent on the young getting behind it, it would be foolish to p*ss them off by abandoning it.
Just because trans people make up only <1% of the population does not mean they should just shut up and take whatever abuse comes their way. The fact they are such a small minority should indicate just how little this Act would impact the general population. They already use women's toilets (and vice versa), all this does is decriminalise it. The GRA does not remove an invisible force field that currently exists round women only spaces, protecting them from predatory males. These criminals are not hanging about waiting for the GRA to be passed so they can go about their sick business. They are doing it now and will continue to do so after the bill is passed. Similarly with refuges etc. There is no right to enter these sites for anyone as it is. They have the right to refuse entry should they deem it appropriate. That does not change with the GRA.
I also don't see how women's rights are affected. The GRA only extends some of them to trans people. Women shouldn't really notice a difference. Most of the "problems" appear more philosophical than anything else.
Beyond the perma-furious bloggerati, the GRA is just not that big of an issue to people. Of course, that doesn't mean they can't continue to use their position within the Indy movement to work with Unionists and the right wing MSM to whip people into a frenzy about it before May. I like to believe people will not be taken in by their scare mongering and reject their viewpoint.
All, obviously, just my opinion.