That was not the question!

Alyn Smith evidently supposes we have all the answers we need. Case closed! Nothing to see here! Move along! Nicola Sturgeon is squeaky clean and here we have the reports from two independent inquiries to prove it. Time to stop asking awkward questions. We’ve got answers. All the answers anybody could need.

Not quite, Alyn. You see, for me and I suspect many others the answers provided by these inquiries were never going to be enough. They were never going to be satisfactory. Even if they hadn’t been tainted by partisan bias and withheld evidence and dubious testimony, the answers would not have been sufficient for me. For the simple reason that neither of these inquiries was asking the questions that I want answered. And neither Alyn Smith nor anyone else who finds it convenient to cling to Nicola Sturgeons coattails is going to stop me continuing to ask the questions that remain unanswered.

Whatever the faithful may claim. we don’t have answers to some very big questions about Sturgeon’s conduct and competence as leader of the SNP and de facto head of Scotland’s independence movement. Even if we accept that the inquiries have answered all the questions there might be about her role in the deployment of smear, innuendo and false claims of criminality against Alex Salmond, they haven’t even touched on the dismantling of our party’s internal democracy; the apparent mismanagement of the party’s affairs or the conspicuous failure to lead the independence movement anywhere other than the blind alley of the Section 30 process and a seven year sojourn in an arid waste of broken promises, dishonoured commitments, feeble rationalisations, inexplicable choices and cowardly dithering.

All these questions remain. And some will continue to demand answers. Because for some, loyalty to party and leader has to be based on more than faith alone. Some of us need a rational reason to believe that Nicola Sturgeon is an efficient leader of the SNP and effective leader of the independence movement. For some of us it is not enough just to keep on winning elections. Essential as that is, it has to be for a purpose. And we have to ensure that the party is fit for that purpose. So we ask questions in the hope of ascertaining to our general satisfaction that the SNP under Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership will be the party it needs to be and do what is required of it. We ask those questions in the hope of eliciting evidence or persuasive arguments from those who demand that we cast aside all doubt and unite behind Nicola Sturgeon.

Here’s the thing, Alyn. I’d be perfectly content to get behind Nicola Sturgeon if I had reason to believe she was leading us where I want to go. I have great uncertainty about where she is leading the country. I have grave misgivings about where she has led the party. And I have strong objections to being told my questions have been answered when none has even been acknowledged.

The term non sequitur can refer to either a conversational device or a logical fallacy. In either case it describes a disjuncture in the structure of a text or an argument. Literally, it means ‘it does not follow’. An example might be an answer which does not relate to the question being asked. This may be done for laughs. It can be amusing because of it’s foolishness. But the non sequitur can be used for rather more devious purposes. It is frequently used by politicians to avoid giving an answer which would be either dishonest or too honest. Watch the Sunday politics shows on TV and count on your finger the number of times the politician being interviewed actually gives a straight answer to the interviewer’s question. You won’t have to set down your mug of coffee.

The non sequitur is also a device used by propagandists in very much more sinister ways. Someone may point out that the country is broke and demand to know where the money has gone. The propagandist might respond by pointing out that all Jews are rich (appealing to a common stereotype that is itself a fallacy) and leave the concerned citizen to make the connection between her poverty and the wealth of Jews rather than with corrupt and incompetent politicians.

Alyn Smith stops short of insisting that bloggers such as myself be made to wear some some sort of identifying symbol pinned to our clothing. But he does seek to make us an out-group. We are the other. We are dissidents. We ask questions, therefore we are associated with – blamed for – the problems we ask questions about. It’s a form of non sequitur. Nicola Sturgeon repeatedly fails to deliver a promised referendum. We ask why. Or attempt to explain the failure to deliver. The response from the likes of Alyn Smith implies that it is this questioning after the fact that somehow caused the problem. The response breaks the logical connection between the failure to deliver and the individual, group or organisation charged with delivering and seeks to replace it with a connection between the failure and those who speak or write about it. Voila! The dissident bloggers are othered.

The question is whether Nicola Sturgeon is the leader Scotland’s cause needs at this time. A question which arises from more than just the harassment debacle. When we ask about Sturgeon’s fitness for the roles of leader of the SNP and face of the independence movement, to answer that she has handled the Covid situation quite well or that she is quite popular with the public or even that she has been quite a good First Minister, this is a non sequitur. As is telling us that two inquiries have sort of cleared her of a particular instance of ineptitude or wrongdoing. These are not answers. We haven’t got answers. We will keep on asking until we do get them.

25 thoughts on “That was not the question!

  1. Alyn Smith is a grand-stander. His only aim in life is to further his own career.

    If you don’t massage his ego then you are of no value to him. If you ask questions of him then you are a threat.

    Alyn Smith is a fraud.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. You could say the same for bloggers.

      To take the conspiracy route that certain bloggers are keen on, you could see the current internal problems within the Indy movement as a power grab by bloggers. Some see themselves as a kind of aristocracy within the movement, deserving of more attention and influence than the SNP (as the party who have to actually deliver independence) are willing to give them. So those aristos get frustrated and start a fight for control of the movement grasping at whatever straw they can to further their cause and undermine the SNP leadership. In the process, independence effectively becomes secondary to that struggle.

      As has happened so often in history, the pretenders either fail to see the destruction they cause or don’t see it as a problem. They’d rather be King of the ruins than a subject in a prosperous Kingdom (apologies to Republicans for the analogy).


      1. “…to further their cause and undermine the SNP leadership. ”

        – The “leadership” is doing a braw job of that all by itself.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Duncan, “the mainstream media or the usual structures of power and patronage that hold this benighted kingdom together” are well known to us and we are wary of them. “The bloggers” (or “certain bloggers”) are “the enemy within” that we didn’t expect. They are all the more damaging as a result.

        To continue the medieval analogy, when you are behind strong walls the enemy appears unable to assail, it is only those within the fortress who would open the gates to them that can bring you down. And certain bloggers didn’t so much open the gates as blow them off the hinges and put big neon signs above the ruins inviting the enemy in …. no ID required.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Okay Duncan;

        Just as support for independence and the SNP were soaring to unprecedented heights, and unionists were floundering around unable to lay a glove on them, up popped some of the “allegedly” pro-Indy bloggers to bizarrely tell anyone who would listen that everything was actually terrible. They made their sites indistinguishable from unionist attack sites and they soon became infested with Unionists in Indy clothing spreading their anti-SNP and anti-Indy propaganda. They were able to spread gloom and despondency among the Indy community with the active support of those bloggers and, not only get away with it, but get applauded for it with “likes” galore.

        The ego driven, petulant bloggers allowed the enemy into the formerly impregnable castle. Do you get the analogy now?


  2. I’ve chosen to cut her a bit of slack. She did ask for a Sec 30 twice. I agree with you we don’t need it, and I think they know that too. There have been 3 UK elections (2015,2017 and 2019) followed by Covid. Understandably that derailed any consideration of a referendum. Questions do remain. The committees and Duncan QC, had remits. Those remits can never shine a light on whether NS is the most suitable leader to deliver Indy. It certainly does NOT address the AS stitch up in the Criminal Court. He’s tried hard to get that heard at Court and in the Committee. David Davis suggested that he should take police/legal action. Independence has been neglected and we desperately need out of this toxic union asap. If we can have Scottish Elections, we can have referendums. The more the can is kicked down the road, the less likely we are to have one. The thought of a Scottish future permanently tied to a toxic Westminster government is frightening.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. You (and me) won’t get any answers, because there are none forthcoming.

    The current “leadership” of the SNP does not “lead”.

    It’s just sitting there, battered and bruised by events, shrivelling in their own fear.

    They have no answers. And to make sure they don’t have to try to attempt to make even one up, they have made themselves unanswerable, pulling the bridge over the moat and putting an army of angry wokeratti and misandric spinsters at their defense.

    I’m sorry, but the party is fucked. It will take time for the general public and the electorate to cotton to it: we, as insiders, can see its guts, and they’re rotten.

    Despite all predictions and promises, independence is not happening. And if it happens, with the subpar people now in charge, it will by a clusterboorach even worse than Brexshit.

    Because, you see, it’s not the direction you take that is good or bad, but who steers the coach.

    Good drivers avoid bumps on any road, either paved with gold or cobblestones.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. The whole thing was as stage managed as an SNP Conference.
    The questions were tightly controlled and information was held back.

    Asking the wrong questions.

    It rendered the whole process useless for getting to the truth -that was the whole point.

    It was reduced to absurdity; I also have it on good authority that Nicola Sturgeon had no involvement in the Watergate break in

    Liked by 4 people

  5. The comment I leave today is that you have written an exceptional post. Politely but firmly you have ensured that Alyn Smith is left in no doubt about the travails that await the SNP on May 6th and after.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. The questions will not be answered until there is a judicial investigation of facts , all of the facts. Carwyn Jones was brought down, because the claimant’s lawyers tore James Hamilton’s report apart.

    Alyn may think that the cover up has been successful, but it’s not. It has only bought them some time.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I suspect that the likes of us are no longer interesting to the party. Most people don’t really think things through to the extent we do, nor would they probably be that interested in the dubious machinations of power that are protecting the current government.

    I have a feeling that barring any other mishaps or scandals, and assuming they can continue to silence voices critical of the GRA and HCB, most people will just look at the record of the Scottish government in comparison to Westminster and vote for Nicola.

    I have begun to notice now in the discourses on the establishment wireless that the trope “Nicola is recognised as a much better leader than Boris” is becoming more prevalent. In many ways it simply does not matter what the truth is about the destruction of internal democracy or anything else, voters will follow the dominant narratives. This is politics after all.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I too have noticed the increasing incidence of “Nicola is recognised as a much better leader than Boris”.

      Soon we will be like Orwell’s farm yard animals peering through the windows at the pigs dressed in suits walking around on their hind legs and won’t be able to differentiate them from the humans.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. “Most people don’t really think things through to the extent we do …. ”

    Or, perhaps, you’re just overthinking them?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you mean by “overthinking” some pejorative projection your own reverse intellectual snobbery onto those who overthink, thereby demonstrating that the pursuit of truth according to criteria of reason and evidence is beyond your capacities, then I probably agree.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. I’m not the one claiming intellectual superiority over “most people”. Neither was I putting you down. I was just making a suggestion. I seems Malcontents are only happy in mutual, self validating moan-fests. As soon as some one posits a different take on things the claws come out. Chill (another suggestion).

        Liked by 1 person

  9. i think the mindset is the Tony Blair “Let’s draw a line under it and move on..” Ask all the questions you like – you won’t get any answers. Response to every question is and will continue to be “Let the people decide. (in May).” Prospects of internal reform to address the concerns you raise – and many more – are extremely remote and disappearing daily..

    I am afraid my response is to take them at their word and withdraw my long-standing vote from the SNP. I hope many more will too because it is the only language they respect and the only power we have. A vote for them will be taken as an endorsement of their policies and I can no longer give them that satisfaction.

    If this leads to electoral failure, then so be it. It is the only way to clear out the drains – a pre-requisite before a unified independence surge is again possible. A unionist administration for a spell does not alarm me the way it does others because I don’t think that will quell the desire for independence in the long – or even the short term. It may well strengthen the resolve as Brexit unfolds. Barring dramatic change, I am afraid my outlook id #NoVotesSNP

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have you stopped to think what will happen if enough people withdraw their vote from the SNP? I don’t know why I’m asking that because if you’re untroubled by the thought of the British parties taking power then thinking is obviously not something you do.


      1. Hahaha, FGS. Are you suffering from schizophrenia or bi-polar condition perchance (like some other so-called pro-indy bloggers)? Firstly you run the SNP and it’s leader down to the ground (for years on end now) and then tell everyone to vote for them. Time for you to get real, get lost or get help.


  10. I thought you were reading my mind when I read “I would be perfectly content to get behind Nicola Sturgeon if I had reason to believe she was…..” but then the image faded because you did not go on to say “standing precariously close to a manure heap, and a small push would be all that was needed”…. Shame.

    Liked by 1 person

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