Imperatives, options and constraints. Figure out these three things and you can predict what any political actor is going to do with a very high degree of certainty. The future is not a complete mystery. The present and recent past are littered with clues. Examine those clues as dispassionately as you may and the future becomes comprehensible.
An absence of passion is vital. Passion tends to distort thinking and colour conclusions. Which is why it is best not to consider motives. Why a political actor behaves in a given way is of no great importance to understanding how they will behave in the future. What matters is to understand the imperative. The imperative will drive behaviour regardless of motive. The political actors themselves need not be aware of their own reasons. Once an objective becomes an imperative, reason becomes irrelevant. And it is in considering motive that we are most likely to allow passion to intrude on our thinking.
For example, if we suppose the imperative to remove the Scottish Parliament from the political equation to be occasioned by a fervent hatred of Scotland and all things Scottish then our assessment will be skewed. It will not take due account of the constraints which might be overwhelmed by such unreasoning malice. Better that we simply take the imperative as a given and leave the matter of motive for historians and biographers to pick over.
We are on very safe ground when we assume neutralising the Scottish Parliament to be an imperative for the British ruling elite. We know that preservation of the Union is regarded as an existential issue for the structures of power, privilege and patronage which constitute the British state. We know therefore that the campaign to restore Scotland’s independence must be regarded as an existential threat. And we know that the Scottish Parliament is a crucial component of the political machinery whereby the Union will be dissolved. It follows that disabling or destroying the Scottish Parliament has to be a prime objective for any British government.
That machinery for restoring Scotland’s independence may be imagined in terms of Newtonian mechanics. Lever + fulcrum + base + force = effect. The lever is a political party. In our case, the Scottish National Party – simply because to serve as the lever the political party must be in government and as things stand that can only be the SNP. This becomes obvious when we see that the Scottish Government is the fulcrum on which the lever turns. The fulcrum must rest on a solid base – the Scottish Parliament. Finally, in our analogy the force is the people. For Scotland’s independence to be restored, the people must apply their strength to the lever so as to turn it on the fulcrum resting on its firm base and so move nations.
Remove or disable any one of these components and the machinery cannot function. Now ask yourself which of those parts is most vulnerable to the malign attentions of the British establishment. It cannot be the SNP. Short of proscribing the party – a ‘solution’ too fraught with risk and difficult to be worth considering (although we can be sure it has been considered) – the most the British can do is unleash their propaganda dog-pack led by the BBC. This they have done. With results that they must surely consider very disappointing. Despite the best efforts of the British media and the British parties in Scotland, the SNP continues to dominate Scottish politics. Electorally, at least.
The people cannot be eliminated. Again, the only weapon the British political elite has is propaganda and its effects are partial and uncertain at best. There is always a portion of the electorate which is susceptible to scare-mongering. But, by the same token, there are also those who have developed immunity. The balance is liable to be tipped quite dramatically by developments and events not necessarily under the direct control of the British state. The British media may misinform and deceive enough people to keep the Union safe. But then again they may not. A well-attended AUOB march might in an instant undo months of lies and smears. We can safely discount the people as the main target.
That leaves the fulcrum (Scottish Government) and the base (Scottish Parliament). The British state can certainly make life difficult for the Scottish Government. It has done so ever since the first SNP administration back in 2007. But the SNP has proved quite adept at avoiding the fiscal traps and political pitfalls put in its path by successive British governments. Devolution has been weaponised and turned against the democratically elected Scottish Government ever since the British parties lost their grip on power. There has also been a concerted propaganda campaign to discredit and delegitimise the Scottish Government. But it remains the Scottish Government. It continues to be a fulcrum with the potential to be used should the people decide to apply enough force to the lever (SNP).
Remove the base on which the fulcrum rests, however, and the Scottish Government ceases to exist. Remove the Scottish Parliament and it doesn’t matter how good the lever is or how much force the people apply to it, there can be no effect. And it is the Scottish Parliament over which the British state retains complete and absolute power. Holyrood can be removed with a pen-stroke. The independence movement can be disabled and the Union made safe in one fell swoop. Destroying the Scottish Parliament has to be an imperative for any political actor whose overarching priority is the preservation of the Union.
No motive or emotion need be assumed. The imperative to destroy the Scottish Parliament is the product of cold political calculation. It is the unavoidable conclusion for the Machiavellian genius and the blood and soil British Nationalist fanatic and the “unthinking Unionist” alike. As far as Boris Johnson or any other Britisher is concerned, the Scottish Parliament has to go.
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