No great political sophistication is required to intuit that when a politician says we should be looking at this thing it’s because they don’t want us looking at that thing. Everybody knows that when a politician insists on answering what they refer to as the ‘real’ question rather than the question they’ve been asked it’s because what they call the ‘real’ question is the question for which they have a scripted and vetted response while the question they’ve been asked is the one for which the only answers that are not outright lies are answers that will get them sacked, disgraced and possibly prosecuted. This being one of those instances where one can use the phrase “everybody knows” with little risk of facing credible accusations of having committed the fallacy of argumentum ad populum.
What I’m saying is that politicians tend to be oleaginously slippery and more evasive than the Loch Ness Monster. Not just politicians, of course. But oleaginous slipperiness and mythical monster-like evasiveness are attributes/skills commonly associated with the professional politician. Perhaps this is unfair. If it is, however, I would contend that when it comes to those entrusted with political power, even a considerable excess of suspicion and distrust is preferable to the smallest inadequacy of scrutiny.
Take Alyn Smith, for example. (I recommend very small doses.) If you read his column in today’s National to the end without succumbing to its mind-numbing insipidity then you’ll find the following sage advice.
We need to think less about when and how the referendum is happening, because it will, and more about how to win those folks over.Alyn Smith: Think less about when indyref2 will be, and more about how to win
Sage advice, indeed! We must think about how to win. We must think about how to persuade people to our cause. That’s where we’ve been going wrong! If only Alyn had told us sooner then we could all have been trying to win rather than whatever it is he imagines we were doing instead. I’m curious to know whether Alyn Smith has only lately become a patronising prick or whether he has long been a condescending wee c*** and I merely failed to notice.
Of course, when he says “we”, he doesn’t mean him. He knows how to “win those folks over” and that is exactly what he has been doing instead of sitting at a desk. No surprise then, given the great expertise and heroic effort he brings to Scotland’s cause, that support for Yes as indicated by polls has “soared” – to use one of The National’s favourite hypelets – from around half to approximately 50%. The nation thanks you, Alyn. When he says “we” he means us. The people who write and read blogs such as this one. The people who ask the wrong questions. The people who apparently have been totally wasting their time thinking about such trivialities as the scheduling of a new referendum and the mechanics of bringing it about. What fools we’ve been!
At which point we should be mindful of the kind of semantic prestidigitation discussed earlier as almost a defining characteristic of the professional politician. If Alyn Smith is telling us to “think less about when and how the referendum is happening” and simply accept his assurance that it will happen, leaving the matter of when and how to experienced experts such as himself, then all our instincts should be telling us that we ought to be thinking a lot more about the when and subjecting to even greater scrutiny those who would prefer we didn’t look too closely.
The logic used by those of us who do not inhabit the same bubble as Alyn Smith – the one with the mirrored inner surface – doesn’t make mutually exclusive categories of campaign strategy and political process. The awkward question that immediately springs to mind when I read Alyn Smith’s don’t-do-that-do-this instruction is why not do both? Why should we not try to win people over and consider the scheduling of a new referendum as well as the steps that need to be taken to ensure both that it happens and that it is done properly?
The second awkward question that pops into my head is why would we not think about the process and practicalities of achieving the objective of our campaign given that this must have a significant bearing on how we conduct that campaign?
My supplementary question is why is Alyn Smith – in common with the majority of his colleagues – so anxious that we should not think about the when and how of the referendum? Why is he so insistent that we should leave all the complicated stuff to the smart operators such as himself and concentrate instead only on campaigning precisely according to the instructions handed down to us?
Perhaps that should have been my main question.
I, for one, will not be deterred. I want and end to the Union and Scotland’s independence restored. Neither Alyn Smith nor anyone else will tell me that I should not/must not take an active and critical interest in everything relating to Scotland’s cause. The SNP+SGP/Scottish Government does not get to exempt itself from scrutiny. Nor does it get to exclude those who dissent from the Sturgeon doctrine and demand prompt, appropriate, effective action on the constitutional issue. The Yes movement may be the foot-soldiers in the fight to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status, but that’s not all we are. We are not here merely to do the bidding of the likes of Alyn Smith and not trouble ourselves with the technical stuff.
I, for one, am not about to wholly entrust Scotland’s cause to a bloated bag of supercilious smug such as Alyn Smith. Or to the elitist clique which has left that cause up on bricks in the front garden for the last seven years and which currently inspires in me little confidence that they will do the job and even less hope that they will do it right.
If Alyn Smith were at all inclined to listen to the voices of dissent he would hear mine, for one, declaring that I am thinking about the how and the when. I am thinking about the process that must be followed if Scotland’s independence is to be restored. I am painfully aware of the urgency of our nation’s predicament, so I am thinking about the timing of every stage in that process – including the referendum. It would be gratifying to suppose he and his colleagues were giving such matters any thought at all.
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6 thoughts on “Don’t read this! Read that!”
Peter: when I need a good slap around the chops with the cold fish of reality, I come to you. You tell it like it is, not what the optimist in most of us wants to hear. The sad but obvious truth is that we will win no more hearts and minds (at least not enough to make any difference to the outcome should we ever, by some miracle ever hold another) unless we actually do something. The SNP leadership coterie likes to talk the good fight but does nothing to actually move us forward – or, indeed, even to engage. That is why second indyref has been a trap – the biggest and best to date – to keep us ensnared but never to cut us loose. Both Holyrood and Westminster benefit from our willingness to believe the old adage: unless you win hearts and minds, you’re going nowhere. The sting in the tail is that we are actually going nowhere even with the promise of another indyref. Celebs are routinely wheeled out to impress us, as are rampant former English Nationalists-turned-Scottish patriots. Just keep going on about that indyref and the faithful will haud their wheesht about that roundabout we’re on. Roundabouts or carousels, as the sophisticated like to call them, always made me sick; looking at wee tots sitting on stationary dapple greys and whirling round to inane pop still does. Ditch the indyref and go for broke with GE coming up (nothing is going to happen before then, anyway, and, truth to tell, if left to the SNP/Green coalition, nothing after that either), tack on the SE results (a win on both seats and votes, counting all the votes cast for independence parties), tack on the Treaty and off to the UN we go. If the SNP refuses, set up a people’s representative committee and do it for them. All hell will break loose, of course, but the stalemate will be broken – forever.
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My dear Lorna, I cannot imagine you ever needing “a good slap around the chops with the cold fish of reality”. But I am happy to keep one on hand just in case.
I still cling to the hope… No! That’s wrong! It’s not so much that I hope the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government can be forced to do what is required and when – although obviously I do harbour such a hope. It is more that there being nothing more that can be done other than trying to force them into action we might as well apply ourselves to that. And if we are going to apply ourselves then we might as well do so wholeheartedly.
Unfortunately, too few in the Yes movement see it this way. Too many are expending their energies on obviously futile but quite gratifying projects. As with getting the SNP to adopt the Manifesto for Independence prior to the election, getting the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government to act won’t be done not because it can’t be done but because such a large part of the Yes movement isn’t prepared to make the effort.
I take no satisfaction (Well! Maybe a bit!) from knowing that a time will come when many of those who couldn’t be bothered doing what was needed will realise the extent to which they fucked up. Most won’t admit it even to themselves. Those who do will suffer the bitter pangs of regret for the rest of their days.
As to your plan, as you know I have my doubts about it. But I don’t discount it completely. The thing I do know is that it cannot be done now. It isn’t really something that could be campaigned for now. The effort to unite the Yes movement and bring it’s influence to bear on the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government CAN be done now. Not only that but, should it fail it will nonetheless lay the groundwork for whatever last-ditch efforts my be tried – including your own.
Everybody should be supporting White Rose Rising or similar because it MIGHT succeed. Right now, there is nothing else that could possibly make any difference. So why the hell not give this our all?
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Having met Mr Smith when he was an MEP, I can assure you what you see is what you get. AmDram sham, with an eyebrow schtick.
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What these politicians refuse to acknowledge is that most people don’t think about politics, and they won’t engage with indy until there is some chance it will actually happen. Which is why we need a date. There is also, of course, the matter of the unanswered questions around currency and the border with England, which we KNOW are concerns for people outwith the movement, but which the SNP leadership refuse to commission any work on.
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We don’t need a date. We need the process started. There are obvious sensible answers to the questions you fret about. Those answers have been there longer than the questions have. Quite why you choose to ignore them is for you to explain.
I should also point out the glaring contradiction in your comment. You start by saying “most people don’t think about politics” then insist that two political issues are major concerns negatively affecting the Yes vote. You can’t have it both ways.
Finally, you say we “KNOW” currency and the border are “concerns”. We don’t. We know people SAY these things are concerns. But we have no way of knowing what proportion of these are merely rationalising a ‘gut feeling’. People like to suppose their choices are rational. They like to make out that they have duly weighed the facts and figures and arguments and come to a reasoned conclusion. Which is surprising when you take into account that they’re not inclined to think about politics. What actually happens is that people choose on instinct and then select the facts, figures and arguments that look nice with that choice.
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Reblogged this on Ramblings of a now 60+ Female.
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