No evil mastermind

Kevin McKenna has just been promoted to the SNP/Sturgeon loyalists’ hate list. If he wasn’t high on that list before he most certainly is after his excoriating summation of the state of the party and the Yes movement in The National today (Why Nicola Sturgeon must step up and lead a divided Yes movement). None of it is new to the realist wing of the independence movement or the regretfully pragmatic section of the SNP’s membership. But it would make very uncomfortable reading for the Panglossian fantasists who hold Alyn Smith’s ‘never closer to independence’ drivel as an article of faith and stubbornly insist in the face of an avalanche of contrary evidence that everything is well in the best of all possible parties. Most will take the precaution of not troubling to read McKenna’s column lest it lead to tears if not apoplexy. The headline will be enough to warn them off. “Here be truths!”, it declares. “Venture not, lest thy mind be sullied!”.

It must be becoming hard work maintaining the delusion that Nicola Sturgeon is already leading a Yes movement which would be united but for the awkward squad who persist in peddling their discomfiting truths. McKenna’s article has them aplenty. He writes of “deep, and seemingly unbridgeable, divisions”; “the party [Sturgeon] leads is a deeply unpleasant place to belong”; “the perceived iniquities of the Sturgeon regime”. Every word of it accurately describing the reality that is shunned by those who bask in the 24-hour sun shining from Sturgeon’s arse.

The following paragraph struck a particular chord.

In any other party at any other time, the deep, and seemingly unbridgeable, divisions would have proved fatal in electoral terms. But while the independence question remains unresolved, Nicola Sturgeon has thus far been able to maintain her authority over the fear and loathing.

I am no conspiracy theorist. Not because I lack the imagination, but because I lack the capacity to stop thinking things through once I’ve found an explanation that confirms whatever I may have imagined. When looking for explanations one should not at the outset exclude any possibility. From the quite extraordinary to the totally mundane, everything should be considered. Even the possibility of some kind of conspiracy. Most of what pops into one’s head in this process can safely be discarded immediately. Anything involving shape-shifting lizard people can be easily discounted. Unless what one is seeking to explain is Michael Gove. As can the more simplistic conclusions of the ‘they’re only in it for the money’ variety. No doubt the motives of some political actors are that basic at least some of the time. But mostly, like other human beings (and perhaps Michael Gove?) motives are mixed. People do things or behave in particular ways for a mixture of reasons. People are complex. Even politicians.

One thing I’ve long struggled to explain is Nicola Sturgeon’s decision early in the pandemic crisis to suspend all campaigning relating to the constitutional issue. It always seemed to be to be a massively foolish move. Partly because it was unnecessary. She didn’t have to say or do anything. She closed off a set of options for no evident reason. Why?

Previously, I’ve speculated that Sturgeon’s cease and desist letter to the independence movement was mere posturing for the benefit of a particular audience. Not the party membership or wider Yes movement but the ‘international community’ and the ‘global media’. She was trying to look statesmanlike. Solemn. Responsible. A safe pair of hands. I still think this the most likely explanation. Or at least the largest part of an explanation which doubtless includes other motives. Including the possibility that she simply thought it the right thing to do.

My difficulty in comprehending the choice to halt the independence campaign was compounded by two factors. That there wasn’t much in the way of campaigning anyway and nothing at all in the case of the SNP. Any campaigning relating to Scotland’s cause that was happening was being conducted by people Sturgeon had no authority to command. And that it seemed to me that stopping campaigning because of the pandemic was just plain stupid given the fact that lockdown created near-ideal conditions for online campaigning, leaving tens of thousands of people stuck at home with only their devices for company. Lockdown gave the Yes movement something akin to a captive audience and a chance to develop online campaigning skills that can only become increasingly valuable. Sturgeon threw this opportunity away. She seemed oblivious to the potential in the situation. But was she?

That was the question that popped into my head as I read the passage from Kevin McKenna’s column quoted above. Proving that I don’t lack the imagination required to think conspiratorially, I entertained the notion that Sturgeon actually knew damn fine what she was throwing away. She fully recognised the possibilities lockdown offered a Yes movement which was well networked and already firmly established on social platforms and new media. Being a politician, and being the kind of politician she is, her first thought would be how she might control this new form of campaigning so as to ensure it served her purposes. Her second thought would be to wonder whether she could control it at all. That doubt would probably be enough. It would have to be stopped.

If Kevin McKenna is right, and there’s good reason to suppose that he is to at least some degree, then Sturgeon and the SNP have been using the lure of a new referendum to keep the Yes movement onside for the SNP’s election campaigns. So long as campaigning for independence was bound up with campaign for the SNP in elections the party had a ready source of foot-soldiers and, more importantly, the SNP had control. If the Yes movement developed its own campaigning organisation based on using the web to reach voters where would the SNP get the bodies to deliver leaflets and fill envelopes and all the labour-intensive traditional campaign activities? How could Nicola Sturgeon command such an organisation? How could she control it? And if she couldn’t control it, how could she kill it?

OK! I get that this is straying into the conspiracy theorists’ territory. But like I said, it pays to consider even the somewhat far-fetched explanations looking for bits that might fit with a more realistic analysis. A desire to prevent the development of an independence campaign separate from that controlled by the SNP would certainly account for the cease and desist order. It would also fit with Kevin McKenna’s suggestion of the party exploiting the Yes movement for more partisan purposes. And with the form of the Yes campaign has taken under the SNP’s considerable influence. If you wanted to be able to switch Yes activists smoothly between campaigning for Scotland’s independence and campaigning for the SNP’s electoral success then it would make perfect sense for the independence campaign to be as similar to the SNP’s electioneering as possible. And so it has been.

For all that, I’m not convinced that Nicola Sturgeon is guilty of such deviousness. Not that she isn’t capable of it. Just that the conspiratorial aspects of the theory make it a bit too contrived for the real world. Sturgeon is many things. But she is no comic-book villain. There are no evil-masterminds seeking world domination from lairs deep inside hopefully extinct volcanoes. (For a start, they’d never get planning permission!) The fact that Edinburgh sits atop an extinct volcano might be enough to convince the true conspiracy theorist. I tend to need something a bit more substantial than that.

What may be telling is that such thoughts even occur to someone who was a dedicated member/supporter of the SNP for over sixty years; and an unabashed admirer of Ms Sturgeon for a spell towards the end of those six decades. Even as recently as a couple of years ago I couldn’t have written an article such as this. Now, the kind of concerns and suspicions that once seemed outlandish have become mainstream. That is what Nicola Sturgeon has done to the party I was once pleased to call mine and a movement that was once a marvellous democratic phenomenon.

Yet still I have to hope that Nicola Sturgeon will step up and lead a divided united Yes movement. There are those who accuse me of indulging in fantasy politics. I confess to moments when I think they may be right. But for the fact that realistically there is no alternative and no time to create one. And we can’t blame Sturgeon for that.



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25 thoughts on “No evil mastermind

  1. In my opinion the control freak that comprises a sizeable part of Nicola Sturgeon’s character cannot countenance the possibility of an independent Independence movement.

    Liked by 9 people

  2. Given the frequency with which you have accused others of fantasy politics, you should not be in the least surprised if your hope that NS will arise somehow from the ashes of woke to lead a unified independence movement that respects her as a person and supports her endeavours is derided as utter fantasy. I think duncanio above says it all about her character: she is a control freak who could not abide the idea of appearing at any AUOB march or demo so she is not now going to listen to any critic. But it is not her person that is at issue. It is the institutions of the Scottish state and government that are in control, and these are an offshoot os Westminster power. Which is why I will be there with you on the 31st. Repudiating the section 30 process is the most vital element of your proposal and yet it is probably the most controversial, for this would be the start of direct confrontation. The fantasy of Scottish politics is to believe that such confrontation is avoidable and that the British state is benign.

    I must admit that when I saw McKenna’s article I thought not to read it because it wouldn’t tell me anything I did not already believe of have not already thought about. Reading your analysis inclines me however to do so. Once I have worked my way through the puzzles I shall return to it 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I refer you to my reply to Geoff. What needs to be done can only be done by the First Minister. Only Nicola Sturgeon is FM. Unless you imagine she is going to be replaced at conference, and by someone who is inclined to our point of view, then the train of logic only goes to one place.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I find it incredible that anyone actually expects her to suddenly change tack in the way you suggest. She has captured and caged the Yes movement, letting it out to perform when needed and then back in its box.

        There can be no progress until she is removed from office.

        This false hope has trapped her faithful followers for years which is why they attack her critics – there is no plan B.

        Bin Sturgeon, get Cherry in the driving seat and drive through the fallout into the future.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. The one key factor which I think Kevin McKenna omitted, and I don’t think you refer to either is that Ms Sturgeon by her actions and inactions has disqualified herself from the job of leading the YES movement. How would her application letter read ? I don’t think many people in the YES movement would even bother to read it.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I’m reluctant to say that, Geoff. Because if not her, who? And whoever it is, how are they going to do things that only the First Minister has the power to do.

      And please don’t forget that all this has to happen not in a matter of years but months.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Its a good rule when attempting to fill a job vacancy, that if none of the candidates is up to scratch then don’t appoint the best of a bad bunch. Re-advertise the job rather than fill it with the wrong person. I can’t think of a unifying candidate either.

        Liked by 5 people

      2. Unless she suddenly dies of some hitherto unknown condition or in some horrible accident, or unless she accepts the rumoured position awaiting her at the UN and takes hubby to live in the Big Apple, then it is NS who needs to be persuaded to move away from the section 30 nonsense and properly stand up for independence. If she does not do this, then she is little more than a governor general. The question is whether her devolved administration is acting as a stepping stone to independence or just as a devolved administration. There must be some in the SNP still who believe the former.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. That’s pretty much the position. Sturgeon isn’t going to be removed by the party. The loyalists will make sure of that. Nobody else will even be acknowledged. So it’s difficult to see what kind of ultimatum we might give her – supposing we got together to such an extent as be able to even say the word ‘ultimatum’.

        What I hope for is enough pressure on her to repudiate the Section 30 process that she has to make a choice between going back on everything she said about ‘gold standard’ etc., or step aside. I guess we’ll know come the 31st whether there’s a chance of that happening. If enough people turn up at Holyrood then we might have the makings of a powerful pressure group. Otherwise, I’m at a loss to know what we do next.

        Although even as I write that I realise the choice we face will be to threaten a boycott of the campaign supposing a referendum happens. I would have no qualms about walking away from Section 30 referendum. In fact, it would be participating in a Section 30 referendum that I’d somehow have to square with my conscience.

        How the fuck did we get to this?

        Liked by 8 people

  4. “… Every word of it accurately describing the reality that is shunned by those who bask in the 24-hour sun shining from Sturgeon’s arse… ”

    That gave some light relief to a very taxing problem, Peter.

    “… She was trying to look statesmanlike. Solemn. Responsible. A safe pair of hands. I still think this the most likely explanation. Or at least the largest part of an explanation which doubtless includes other motives. Including the possibility that she simply thought it the right thing to do… ”

    If that’s true, she must qualify as one of the most stupid people ever to have disgraced politics.

    I have been looking again at what happened in NI at the height of the Troubles. People very close to both MacGuinness and Adams had been turned by the British security services; they colluded in the murders of people who were killed by the nationalist paramilitaries, and they siphoned, simultaneously, information to the British security services which was then passed on to the Loyalist paramilitaries, who, in turn, murdered nationalists. In both situations, some were killed, both Loyalists and Nationalists, who had no connections with the paramilitaries.

    These people had been in place from way before the actual worst of the Troubles, and MacGuinness and Adams only discovered them when a British installation was broken into and papers removed, when, suspicious of the accuracy of British intelligence, those two leaders of the IRA/Sinn Fein ordered the break-in. Both have since admitted that they sought peace and the Good Friday Agreement because of the colander-like security of their organisations. In other words, they were chock-full of British State turncoats.

    I don’t know how many of such people are in the SNP (and probably Alba now, too, the Greens and other parties) but I am certain they are there. The British State would be extremely negligent of its own interests if it had not done this. Now, I would never claim that NS is one of those, but I now believe that she has never been in favour of full independence, and it was this reluctance to commit fully that alerted my instincts to her foot-dragging at that meeting with Alec Salmond all those years ago when they were campaigning for Leader and Depute Leader spots.

    Everything she has done since 2014 suggests that she is a devolutionist. It may be that she is too scared of confrontation, or too circumspect, or too fond of her own publicity or wedded to a lifestyle that only high office can provide; or it might be all of the things, and more. What is now patently obvious to anyone who is not asking in that nether region sunshine is that she will never take us to independence. Never. She is congenitally incapable of such a thing. She and her coterie must step aside or be pulled down. I don’t know who will do that or when, but it will be someone not yet evident, and may even be someone in her close coterie itself.

    What I do believe, if she presses ahead, with the help of the Greens, with the GRA reform unaltered, backed by the Hate Crime legislation, is that she will be creating the very conditions for that to happen. It will be the final straw that broke the camel’s back. I am old enough to remember the earlier days of the women’s movement. I learned the history of female oppression in this country, and I would recommend that men to learn it, too, because it is a total condemnation of patriarchy – a litany of cruelties and unnecessary restrictions, constraints and restraints based entirely on biological sex – and it covers property law, tax rules, pensions, access to children and much, much more.

    This latest foray into cruelty and oppression is set to eliminate women from all areas pf public life in the longer term, and we will not tolerate it this time. As in the early 20th century, Scotland will see very, very angry women on the streets. We will create the conditions for the demise of the SNP as it is and allow a new political force to arise out of the ashes. This attack on women’s spaces, rights and very existence will be the tipping point, and it is much, much bigger than independence for Scotland, albeit the two are inextricably linked, as I have been trying to say for ages now. Every party in Scotland, apart from Alba and one or two small ones, are wedded to this stuff, and independence will make no difference to the status of women if this stuff passes, or even if the SNP falls and is replaced by a Unionist party. It has to be fought now.

    Liked by 11 people

    1. Nailed it in general Lorna and your last two paragraphs sum up precisely why I did not vote SNP in the election.
      It is a given Nicola Sturgeon is not going to deliver independence (nor will she volunteer to step aside) but there is no way I will vote away my rights or worse, the rights of my granddaughter and the other young women in my family.
      I hope the people of Scotland are starting to wake up to the immediacy of the problem. If not, I recommend Helen Joyce’s most excellent book ‘Trans – When Ideology meets Reality’.
      One final thought.
      It seems very odd that although the Greens have been propping up the SNP in government for years, why enter a ‘formal’ coalition now?
      It’s my opinion that if the GRA- Self ID legislation proves to be the political disaster we all expect, Nicola (the Teflon shouldered one) will blame the Greens, having now formally agreed to support them get their preferred legislation through, in return for their budget/ finance support.
      Meanwhile, women are getting angry and getting organised.
      Demo supporting Women’s Rights at Holyrood – 11am on 2nd September.
      Organised by For Women Scotland.

      Liked by 7 people

      1. I agree with your points. Women won’t wheesht, and Nicola will blame the greens.

        Currently the lobbyists, unionists and awbody else are pushing Nicola one way. It’s time the indy movement pushed her the other. If she doesn’t like that, she can resign.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Previously, I’ve speculated that Sturgeon’s cease and desist letter to the independence movement was mere posturing for the benefit of a particular audience. Not the party membership or wider Yes movement but the ‘international community’ and the ‘global media’. She was trying to look statesmanlike. Solemn. Responsible. A safe pair of hands. I still think this the most likely explanation. Or at least the largest part of an explanation which doubtless includes other motives. Including the possibility that she simply thought it the right thing to do.

    (I still think this the most likely explanation) , OMG the desperation to find excuses and minimise the reasons why she and her entourage should be reviled and considered betrayers of Scotland is palpable , I have said in the past and I will say it again YOU and your fellow SNP apologist members are responsible for this whole debacle , YOU and your fellow SNP apologists protected this deviant and blocked and denigrated anyone who said anything against her and her inaction with the repeated ( secret plan )
    I know in your heart that you are a committed independenista and crave a return to independent statehood , I know that you have travelled many many miles in promoting indy , I know that you tirelessly fight for indy , but FFS Peter STOP trying to find excuses and reasons to forgive her and the SNP for destroying the dreams and aspirations of Scots indy supporters , she is evil end of

    SNP MP’s and MSP’s are a shower of craven cowards who have and continue to betray Scotland and Scots

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Twathater: I, too, have reached the same opinion, but via a different route. Hoping against hope for salvation from within the SNP is pointless; it ain’t gonna happen. Not unless the struts are kicked away by something or someone else. We are at the point the Irish reached under Redmond (and, previously, Parnell): the Irish Independence Party became a liability to Irish independence precisely because it was in a state of stasis, moving not at all, still in thrall to Westminster.

      Then the IRA happened, and 1916. Frustrations boiled over within the movement, but the mass of the populace were still unconvinced until the Black and Tans (many of them unemployed Scots WW I veterans – we are not pure ourselves) persuaded them otherwise. The Scots are less volatile than our Irish cousins, but when we finally have the wall at our backs and nowhere to go (and we are fast approaching that circumstance) we go forward and we don’t stop until we have done what we needed to do.

      I believe that the forcing through of the GRA reform, coupled with the HC legislation will prove to be the powder keg. Women in 21st century Scotland will never go backwards now. Wait and see. As for NS, she will be removed one way or another because she has been a disaster as FM and as supposed leader of the independence movement, and, crucially, as a female leader. It could all have been so very different.

      She could have been the Scottish Boudicca who actually went on to win, not lose, but she threw it all away for a bunch of paraphilic and fetishist men who know they are not women, but who have tried to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes for sexual kicks, for hatred of women and for power. Even if we gain independence tomorrow, these men will not stop, and life in an independent Scotland, for women and children, gay men and lesbian women will be scarcely worth living as we drown in a sea of porn, sissy porn, kink and queer theory, and the straight men who enabled all this by keeping quiet will be forced, themselves, to accept TWAW into every nook and cranny of public life, politics and public space – as, ironically ‘women’ and marginalized, natal women will appreciate the bitter irony.

      Liked by 9 people

      1. lorncal I agree with all you have posted , I have been outspoken and vociferous since SC exposed this sickness which was growing within the SNP and which eventually totally subsumed it

        I posted on WOS that I was a 70 year old male married with a family who was disgusted and sickened that any male could ignore or minimise the threat this lunacy posed to OUR FEMALES , I was also sickened and disgusted that some of the female responses favoured the hold back and see policy , the wait and see if it is adopted policy , or the don’t upset the indy apple cart response ,

        I proposed a declaration to be signed by individuals and forwarded to Sturgeon that STATED , if she did NOT publicly and openly pause the relevant legislation until after independence and carry out a referendum on that legislation and state categorically a DATE for the referendum that individual would refuse to vote SNP , needless to say my proposal was ignored even by the owner of this site

        Liked by 4 people

      2. I am at a loss to explain what has happened, but I do know that you were vociferous in your support in the Stuart Campbell blogs, as was I. I think the reason must lie, to an extent, in the fact that some people instantly see the bigger picture, whilst understanding the detail, and many simply do not. I also think that part of it is that good, decent men, many of them, feel cornered by the misogyny apparent in male behaviour and don’t really want to acknowledge it as the evil that it is because they, too, are men.

        Others, including the handmaids, believe it to be an issue of human rights, without appreciating the implications and ramifications – they are unable to see ahead or don’t care. I’d place many politicians in the last category, and also women who are still wedded to the ‘just be kind’ principle which destroys lives or they are in thrall to men to such an extent that they can’t see the cruelty and entitlement contained within the creed. There are videos online, apparently, that show all kinds of incidents where women and girls are hurt physically, and they crow about the injuries.

        There are some really sick people out there, and I suspect that many of them will be incels who wouldn’t recognise a human relationship if it came up and bit them, others will be people with mental health issues who need help. The resentment expressed against women is in the manner of picking on the weakest – kicking the dog syndrome. In the end, almost all male aggression towards females lies in the fact that we cannot fight back and injure them.

        Men have said that men attack other men, too, and kill them, and that male violence affects men much more, but I looked into this and found that, in most cases where males are injured or killed, it is not by a single man, but by a group acting in concert – which is the opposite of how women are attacked, in the main, except by other women who also hunt in packs. Cowardice would appear to be at the centre of both male and female aggression and attacks, although women do not tend to attack men, except old men who are vulnerable.

        As I have said many times, if this was happening to men, I’d be equally incensed, and it is why so many women feel protective of children, who are even more vulnerable than we are. I think I go along with the Professor Sheila Jeffries’ explanation on the rise of the trans lobby: it is, essentially a male sexual rights body; and it has been, and is being, driven by excessive, violent porn. Cross-dressing men, in the past, did not claim to BE women; now, they do, and they are willing to eliminate women in order to facilitate their sexual paraphilias and fetishes to the exclusion of all reason.

        Liked by 4 people

      3. Agree. When the catcalls start, by age 10, girls realise there’s a problem.

        As with these other issues, some only see the detail and blame male, or female behaviour.

        Those of us who see the bigger picture immediately realise: some people are bullied, because other people are bullies.

        In THAT sense, the sex of the victim or predator is secondary to their relative vulnerability. Primarily physical vulnerability, and secondly social vulnerability. Whether they’ll be taken seriously.

        The men who look the other way are typically in denial about two things. The reality of many of their fellows’ behaviour. And the reality that they themselves are being intimidated by more aggressive males, and need to combine in order to confront them.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I read Kevin McKenna’s article today and thought that he’s the only journalist who writes about what is really happenng with the indy movement vs the SNP.

    As for the FM? If she wants independence, she’s the worst leader the SNP has ever had, ignoring opportunity after opportunity and mandate after mandate.
    Look at her actions, don’t listen to her words. The demolition of the SNP’s internal democracy suggests an ability to plan in advance, and it wasn’t done to strengthen the party, let alone the Yes movement, who she has long regarded as an embarrassment.

    The reaction of the SNP leadership to the formation of Alba told us a lot. They view their former party members as enemies in a way they don’t view unionist politicians.
    And there’s another question I would like to ask: why didn’t they know Alba was about to happen? The dogs in the street knew Alex Salmond was going to be launching a political party. I did, and I’m nobody!

    Are the New SNP leadership so completely in their bunker that they missed that?
    Or do they run a regime that means none of their minions dare to deliver bad news?

    And I really wish she would stop self-identifying as a feminist!

    Liked by 9 people

  7. Last chance Saloon. Stand on the door at Holyrood. So far Sturgeon has been able to hide. A biased MSM will help her out and never ask her any awkward questions. So we have to stand on the door and let her know in no uncertain manner what we feel. We have got to make this difficult for her. It’s time the heat was full on and if she can’t stand it she has the option to get out of the kitchen. Hopefully it’ll be picked up by the World Media and shatter the image of a World Leader. No more Ted Talks appearances. Time for her to suffer some bad press.

    Liked by 7 people

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