If only

Ruth Wishart adds her own plea for an end to squabbling within the independence movement to the seemingly endless list of other such futile efforts at refereeing the affray. The Believe in Scotland Facebook group threatens to eject anyone judged to be conducting “internecine warfare”. There we have the two most common ‘solutions’ to the fractious factionalism currently dividing the Yes house against itself. Neither approach, you may note, actually attempts to address the causes of this division. Both seek only to conceal the ‘squabbling’ behind a facade of unity. Or silence dissenting voices with the cudgel of heavy-handed moderation. Needless to say, neither approach has any chance of measurable success.

Consider what is being asked of those, like myself, who have grave concerns about various matters relating to or impinging upon the fight to restore Scotland’s independence. I’ll hazard with little fear of contradiction that all of those held to be guilty of provoking squabbles and/or promoting internecine warfare put that fight at the top of their priorities. For those, like myself, whose voices are raised in dissent, Scotland’s cause is what matters. We are most certainly NOT “independence waverers”. Yet we are being asked to remain silent as we see that cause being put in jeopardy.

Of course, there is the obligatory – and often grudging – nod to freedom of expression.

For this is a debate where the loudest voices have been allowed to silence honest dissent. A confident party, and a confident nation can cope with differences of opinion; screeching putdowns are something else.

See what she did there? If “honest dissent” has been silenced then does this not necessarily imply that all that’s left is “screeching putdowns”? Including what those like myself consider to be honest dissent voiced purely out of concern for Scotland’s cause. One person’s honest dissent is another’s “screeching putdown”. Which is not to say that there aren’t “screeching putdowns”. Of course there are. But that’s not what’s silencing “honest dissent”. That’s just the meagre way some people have of voicing their dissent or responding to other’s voicing of honest dissent. The “screeching” is to varying degrees, an element of all political discourse. It doesn’t prevent that discourse proceeding. What does most to silence honest dissent is the pleas for a pretence of unity from respected individuals and the power of officious Facebook group administrators.

People like myself are told it’s OK to criticise the SNP or Nicola Sturgeon or the Scottish Government or Alba Party or the Yes movement so long as we do so at the right time and in the appropriate manner. But the time is never right. No manner is ever appropriate. You’re a ‘screecher’ unless and until the self-appointed guardians of the ‘One True Way’ say otherwise. And they never say otherwise because they have to justify their self-appointment as guardians of the ‘One True Way’.

Ruth Wishart opens with what she doubtless considers timely and appropriately expressed criticism of both the SNP and Alba. I wholeheartedly concur with the criticism. But it will doubtless be condemned as disloyal and divisive by those in the independence movement intent on unity so long as it is on their terms.

The error lies in attempting to conceal the symptoms of division within the independence movement rather than dealing with the causes of that divisions. Ruth offers some sound advice to both the SNP and Alba as the two main camps in a divided movement. She implores the SNP to “accept that critical friends are just that”. She tells Alba to “ask themselves why their message failed”. Wise as it is, that advice comes far too late. Those like myself who proffered similar advice when, if heeded, it might have prevented the worst of the squabbling and internecine warfare well remember being condemned as disloyal and divisive for doing so.

The right time for honest dissent will always be too late. The appropriate way of expressing that dissent will always be the least effective. Some things cannot be put back together once broken. The unity of purpose which held the independence movement together has been allowed to wither. It cannot be restored. The momentum that the independence cause had has been allowed to dissipate. It cannot be regained. The opportunities that the independence cause had have been squandered. There is no replay button.

If only the voices of honest dissent had been heard and heeded. If only.

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16 thoughts on “If only

  1. The way I see it the only thing that has a chance of uniting Yes is if there is a focused campaign for the restoration of Scotland’s full self-government.

    Sadly, and regrettably, the leadership of the SNP – as notional arrowhead of the movement – seem neither inclined nor prepared to re-commence that project any time in the foreseeable future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I fear we may be past the point where meaningful action by the Scottish Government might unite the independence movement. It would very much depend on the nature of the action. If it was something bold and assertive then that could go a long way to brining the movement together. But as you intimate, that’s not Nicola Sturgeon’s thing.

      The danger is that Sturgeon will do something that can be portrayed as bold and assertive action but which actually plays into the British Nationalist’s game but anybody pointing this out will be shouted down by the party loyalists. People will then expend their energies on a referendum campaign fatally compromise by interference from the British state that has been invited by a First Minister of Scotland who considers the sovereignty of Scotland’s people a price worth paying for a political victory, however Pyrrhic.

      It’s not a referendum at any price or on any terms that’s required. The referendum must be impeccably free and fair. Something that is definitively impossible if the British state is involved. In one way or another such a referendum must fail to deliver the outcome desired by independence supporters. Many of whom are all too ready to believe that’s what we’ve got when it really isn’t.

      The disappointment and disillusionment and despondency ensuing from such a situation could be the final nail in the Yes movement’s coffin.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. “The danger is that Sturgeon will do something that can be portrayed as bold and assertive action but which actually plays into the British Nationalist’s game but anybody pointing this out will be shouted down by the party loyalists.”

        This has what has been happening for years already.

        Liked by 5 people

  2. I noticed Mike Russell’s article on “uniting the Yes movement” in the Naitonal the other day seemed to involve everyone keeping quiet, based on Nicola Sturgeon’s assurance that there was no missing money. Naturally, there was no mention of any NEC wrongdoing or the tens of thousands of people who had left the SNP in the past few years.

    I’m not sure which piece of specious dishonesty was more breathtaking.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. And the rapid descent into the abyss continues for the independence movement. Never could I have imagined, just over a year ago (when a buoyant me perused the “pro-Indy” blogs having noted the surge in support for both Indy and the SNP), the vicious/malicious anti-SNP sh*t that I would encounter. It was unbelievable. The “Yes” parties were on near 60% of the vote with Indy itself not far behind it and the Westminster govt embroiled in scandal and incompetence. All we had to do was “keep the heid”/remain united and Indy seemed to destined to fall into our laps.

    But no. The bloggers were miffed that the SNP were not following their instructions (despite the SNP strategy clearly winning over voters) so they went on the offensive. They couldn’t have Sturgeon delivering on independence despite ignoring their “sage advice”, so they had to bring her down. And if the price of that prize was the destruction of the Indy movement then so be it.

    The whole campaign has been a narcissistic, delusional and self defeating (not to mention suspicious) catastrophe for the cause of Scottish independence. With the quadruple causes of the tin foil hat conspiracy theories, SNP fascist state (really!!!), genital obsession and the right to spread hate, coupled with “the establishment” ensuring as many people as possible were “diverted” to these sites to witness the madness (of course they have …. you would if you were them) it is no surprise that support for both Indy and the SNP fell the longer it went on.

    Alba was the crowning glory of the malcontent cause and, amusingly (for their unionist enablers), its ultimate humiliation. They had shouted from the rooftops (or computer screens at least) for over a year that the SNP were out of touch with the electorate and only they, the bloggers and malcontents of the conspirasphere, truly spoke for the bulk of the independence movement. But predictably, when the votes were counted, it turned out they had only been speaking for themselves after all.

    However, not so amusingly, the damage they had done to the Scottish electorate’s confidence in the cause of Scottish independence had been done. But, unfortunately, they themselves are not done. Despite the humiliatingly low number of votes cast for them, they continue to whine and accuse and generally undermine the Indy cause as if in denial of the reality of their disastrous contribution over the last few months. It seems their failure was everybody’s fault but their own, with Indy voters described as “imbeciles” for not having voted Alba as instructed by their “leaders”.

    I, after decades of supporting the cause of Scottish independence, have been so disheartened by the malcontent phenomenon that I have all but given up on it. The last Holyrood election should have been the first stepping stone to an imminent independent Scotland with a clear SNP majority and even clearer electoral majority for independence. But it was not to be as too many SNP constituency voters were persuaded to give their List vote to another party (while too many unionist Constituency voters were alarmed enough by the “game the system” malcontent chant to vote for the most likely unionist party to beat the SNP) thus depriving them of a majority. Alba have vowed to continue their crusade against the SNP and seemingly wont be content until it, and subsequently the cause of Scottish independence, is destroyed. They will be aided in this endeavor by “the establishment” and I have little doubt it will succeed. Its already been pretty successful.

    Thanks Malcontents.


        1. Yes, I guessed that. I have been trying to find an anagram of its name as if this might be a clue. It’s more entertaining than taking seriously much of the verbiage it produces.

          I don’t understand why it would continue to pile in here though. As if anybody is going to persuaded, let alone read or take seriously anything it writes. And yet here it is reasonably articulate, frequently holding forth with some deliberately passive aggressive nonsense clearly designed to gather a reaction. What sort of bot or troll is this and why does it hang out here?

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Me Bungo Pony is a line from the Blue Oyster Cult’s “The Red and the Black” track. When I first started posting pro-Indy comments on the old Scotsgait site nearly twenty years ago I needed a pseudonym (they were de rigueur back then) and I had listened to that track on the way through to the Renfrew Ferry to see them. It seemed suitably quirky.

        Of course, a simple Google search would have furnished you with the derivation of the name. But then, if you prefer to have your opinions handed to you rather than think for yourself, perhaps the most basic of investigations is beyond you.

        As to Peter’s unkind description of me as a “troll”; if I were a “troll” I’d be posting far more often on far more threads. Not just now and again, often weeks or months apart. For someone who emphasises the importance of language on another thread, Peter can be very loose with it.

        It seems the epithet “troll” appears to be given to anyone who happens to disagree with what a blogger, or their regular (a “trollish” quality) contributors want them to believe.


      2. “So half a dozen bloggers with a following of no more than a few thousand managed to thwart the cause of independence by criticising the SNP in government? Seriously?”

        Well those half a dozen bloggers appear to believe they are the very heartbeat of the Indy movement and it’s high priests. Rev Stu was forever asking us to marvel at the musculature of his viewing figures and Iain Lawson is beginning to show similar (though unevidenced) symptoms of hubris. Though their inability to convince the greater electorate to vote Alba rather punctures that grand conceit of themselves.

        But it is not their inability to convince Indies to actively “do as they are told” that has caused a problem. The constant drip-drip-drip of anti-SNP rhetoric, amplified by their Unionist “establishment” enablers, was just enough to shave a few percentage points off the SNP and Indy, while also being just enough to convince a few percentage points of unionists to vote tactically against the SNP, to deny the SNP a clear majority. A few percentage points here and there is all it took to put Indy progress in reverse and give unionists hope that a few short months ago they lacked.

        A short search of Peter’s blogs show that Peter predicted all this.


      3. Is it “nonsense” Duncan? Care to evidence/support that statement?

        Do you believe “Wings over Scotland” has had no impact on the Indy movement? Are “Yours for Scotland”, “Barrhead Boy”, “Random Public Journal” and “Scot Goes Pop” just little read internet witterings that nobody pays any attention to? And how about Peter’s blog? Is it just another pointless piddle in the wind and, if so, why do you bother with it?

        The fact is, the Scottish electorate is well aware of the media bias in the Press and Broadcast media and reacts accordingly to it. Those who agree with it will lap it up, those who disagree with it will dismiss it out of hand and the majority will simply shrug their shoulders with a “they would say that wouldn’t they” thought in their head and move on. But when your own “side” are the ones constantly berating the pro-Indy govt with accusations of corruption on a massive scale, instigating a fascist state and being uninterested in an independent Scotland, many people will ask questions of themselves, the SNP (the ONLY party that can deliver independence) and the desirability of independence itself.

        Even the Daily Mail wouldn’t print much of what allegedly pro-Indy bloggers/posters have put on those sites. If it was mere criticism, it would be fine. But it goes way, way beyond that.

        I agree with you. The blogs only actually influence a tiny minority of the electorate despite their claims of “mass viewing figures” that dwarf those who read newspapers. But they only had to influence a tiny minority of the electorate to put progress towards Indy into reverse. The words “thwart” and “cripple” are your words, not mine. None-the-less, they appear apposite.

        The appearance of Salmond (the most unpopular politician in Scotland) to lead the Alba party (thus crushing the previous multitudinous pop-up pro-Indy parties) would also have caused people to think again about Indy. And the “conservative” wing of the SNP with their own genital obsession undermining party unity have had their own part to play in “crippling” the move towards Indy. But, again, the bloggers are the cheerleaders for these people and give them a platform they otherwise would not have.

        Whether you agree with me or not on this, it has been a long, long time since the major “pro-Indy” bloggers (with a couple of notable exceptions) have done anything to support the case for an independent Scotland. They have ceased to be pro-Indy sites and become anti-SNP sites. Perhaps you’re right, and bloggers like Peter are invisible nobodies that no-one pays any attention to. I doubt it though, and I think they would agree with me on that point at least.


        1. I think maybe you should set up your own blog. Then you could ensure that the power you suddenly have at your fingertips is used to the benefit of the independence movement. Good luck.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Schrodinger’s Malcontents: with the power and influence to cause a drop for independence support in the polls yet of so below the radar they cannot scrape together the tiny number of votes required to produce even one Alba list msp. Be still my boggling brain.


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