Contemplations on a dog’s arse

So, there I was – trudging through the streets of Glasgow in the pishing rain staring at the shamelessly exposed arse of some random dog ahead of me and thinking thoughts. I wondered how long I might have to stare at a dog’s arse before being glad to have my eyes poked out by a flagpole carried by someone oblivious to the fact that there were other people in the vicinity. I dwelt briefly on the realisation that should one ever have the gross misfortune to be kissed by Michael Gove, the last thing you’d see would bear a striking resemblance to that dog’s arse. But mostly I just thought, ten years!

Ten fucking years I’ve been doing this. Ten long wearying years. Ten years of trudging through the streets of Glasgow and Edinburgh and Dundee and Dumfries and Edinburgh again and Glasgow again. Ten years of staring at the arses of various dogs. Or it might have been the same dog’s arse. They all start to look the same after a while. Ten years of dodging rogue flagpoles. Ten years of listening to the same chants. Ten years of hearing the same speeches from the same people producing the same reaction from the same crowd. Ten fucking years!

I’ve been a supporter of the fight to restore Scotland’s independence for much longer than that, of course. I think I was born a nationalist, as I have no memory of the moment I became one. That was nearly 71 years ago. I’ve been actively involved in Scotland’s cause on and off and in a variety of ways for about 60 of those years. But it has been a full-time preoccupation for the last ten.

The fight against the Union is at least as old as the Union. But we have a clear starting point for what I think of as the modern age of the independence campaign. That started with the SNP landslide in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election. With a supposedly impossible SNP majority government, a referendum was now inevitable. The campaign for that referendum would be huge. It never even crossed my mind that I wouldn’t be part of it. It might have if I’d envisaged the campaign lasting a decade and more. Though I probably would have done exactly as I did. Which was to pack in my business – not a great wrench – and commit to working full-time on the Yes campaign.

The next 30 months or so was hectic, tiring, often frustrating but always satisfying and occasionally exhilarating. Like thousands of other people I did things I didn’t know I could do and went to places I otherwise might never have visited and met people I would otherwise not have met – some of whom I now count among my firmest friends. The Yes movement grew with remarkable speed and to an unprecedented size. This was democracy in action. Real, fundamental, grassroots democracy. Being part of that still stands as one of the great experiences of my life. Up there with becoming a father. Although nothing will ever top that experience.

Ten years on and I’m still trudging the streets of Scotland in the heat and the cold and the wind and the rain staring at a dog’s arse and having waking nightmares about being kissed by Michael Gove while keeping an eye out for the flagpole that would have my out in a very different sense. Safe to say some of the shine has come off that early experience.

Ten years ago things were bad. Bad enough to prompt me and many others to give our energies and our lives over to Scotland’s cause. Ten years on, things are immeasurably worse. I do not wish to contemplate what things will be like in another ten years time. I’m sure there’s no need to explain what I mean by “things”. It’s a different world. And the context in which Scotland’s cause is playing out hasn’t been the exception some seem to imagine. Nicola Sturgeon being one of them. So much has changed in the space of ten years that it would take a very long article to do justice to a catalogue of even the most significant changes. I’ll mention just one thing which is not directly Brexit-related.

I have noted before how the British political elite is becoming more forthcoming and explicit about their attitude to Scotland and what they intend for us. The never very convincing talk of the Union being a ‘partnership of equals’ and how Scotland should ‘lead not leave’ the UK has been all but entirely dropped in favour of brazen contempt for democracy and open hatred of Scotland’s distinctiveness. When British Nationalist politicians such as Alister “Union” Jack talk about Scotland there is no attempt to conceal or disguise the fact that they are talking about a Scotland that is, always has been, and is forever destined to be subordinate to England-as-Britain. An inferior status conferred and enforced by the Union. As is reported in the Sunday National – but regrettably attributed to the Tories rather than the entire British establishment – senior British Nationalist politicians obstinately decline to even acknowledge that Scotland is a nation.

In everything Alister Jack says, and declines to say, there are unmistakable echoes of the malign ‘Greater England Project’ that has ever seethed behind even the most polished facade of British benevolence. Now, they hardly bother with that facade. All pretence of an equitable political union has fallen away to reveal the imperialist/colonialist beast beneath.

This is not a gaffe, or series of gaffes by Alister Jack and others. It is intentional. It is strategic. The British still aim to control the debate around the constitutional issue. They always have. Ten years ago, they succeeded. Ten years ago they saw the advantage in making the debate as detailed and complicated as possible. They sought to bury the constitutional issue in a mass of matters that are tangential at best. The fundamentals of the constitutional issue were barely discussed in the 2014 referendum campaign. Throughout that campaign the British sought to prevent any focus on the dichotomy at the heart of the referendum. They tried to make it more like an election campaign, with most of the discussion focused on matters economic and the rest being filled with things like defence and international relations. They tried to lose the constitutional issue in a fog of contrived doubt about currency and whose picture would appear on postage stamps. With a great deal of help from the SNP/Scottish Government and a large part of the Yes movement, they succeeded. They succeeded well enough to win – despite the No campaign being led by Blair McDougall, a man who missed his calling as a traffic-calming installation.

The British clearly recognise the extent to which the context has changed in ten years. It would be surprising if they didn’t given that they are responsible for by far the largest part of this change. And all that is the worst of it. That they are now blatantly stripping powers from the Scottish Parliament, brazenly intervening in devolved areas, openly undermining Scotland’s democratic institutions, explicitly denying Scotland’s political distinctiveness and outright refusing to acknowledge our right of self-determination all indicate a change of tack in light of the altered context. It appears that rather than massively over-complicating the issue to create confusion and doubt, they now intend reducing it to the basics – the Union versus independence. Or to be more accurate, the Union as they want us to imagine it and independence as they want to portray it.

All of which would be fine – if there was any reason to believe that those charged with formulating and facilitating the process by which Scotland’s independence might be restored similarly recognised the changed context and were planning accordingly. There would be no cause for concern if Nicola Sturgeon and her government and her party looked as if they were likewise intending to rethink the Yes campaign in the light of circumstances as they are now rather than as they were ten years ago.

Ten years on and still marching. Still doing the things we did ten years ago in the same way as we did them then. Trying to resuscitate a movement which can’t breath in this new atmosphere. Trying to revive a campaign that doesn’t fit the new conditions. Sticking with the comfortingly familiar long after context has moved on.

As I trudged through the streets of Glasgow in the pishing rain staring at a dog’s arse and trying to fend off visions of Michael Gove puckered-up for a slobbering snog, it occurred to me that while there may be a place for the tried and tested campaigning methods, something new is needed. Something fresh. Something that addresses the predicament facing Scotland now and not the way we were ten years ago.

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16 thoughts on “Contemplations on a dog’s arse

  1. That’s a fearsome simile, a dog’s arse and Gore’s kipper.!.Reminds me of a phrase much used in the Northeast ., a face like a coo’s erse turned inside oot.


  2. That image you conjure up brought a chuckle. Exactly as you say, although I haven’t been on a march or rally for some time now.

    I believe that, after 2014, Nicola Sturgeon did change tactics: do nothing and see what happens. I do not believe for one minute that she doesn’t now realize how ineffectual she has been and how pointless, in the end, her stint as FM will have been in hindsight. The question must be asked: what did she hope to achieve, if anything? The answer keeps coming back: nothing; at least, not in Scotland.

    Her leadership reflects that of John Swinney, which also ended when nothing was happening, to make way for the advent of Salmond, who did make things happen. I am making no accusations here, but suffice it to say that she was quicker off the mark to block his return to front-line politics in Scotland than John Swinney had been. On no account could Salmond be allowed a comeback because things might happen.

    That so many SNP supporters are still delusional about the inertia says much for Nicola Sturgeon’s ability to mask her support of the status quo. Surely, I thought, they must ask themselves why any elected party of government that has independence as its core aim would not say, following the Supreme Court decision: we respect the court’s decision. That is akin to saying: we respect the right of England-as-Westminster/UK to kick us into touch always and forever. Yet, right on cue, the delusional ones flood The National with Vichy-style hurrahs.

    The reason why we languish in inertia is because that is how Nicola Sturgeon and her cohort of YES men and women want it. No effort has been made to find an alternative route out of the Union. Of course not because they might actually find one that England-as-Westminster/UK can’t block They have thrown in the towel and will go on collecting their salaries until they are eventually kicked out, giving their backing to some of the most contentious issues of the day, driving a wedge between supporters and tearing apart the little fabric that remains of our distinctive Scottish society, culture, law, languages.

    They are actually intent upon causing real harm – physical, psychological – to 50% of the Scottish population in order to placate and promote the supposedly 0.03%. That latter figure is a lie. The numbers of autogynephiles and other types of paraphilias that shelter under the trans umbrella are estimated to be immense, as we will discover if and when this stuff passes. You can bet your bottom dollar that Westminster and the Supreme Court will not intervene here because we are, as per, the lab rats. Her unelectedness, Princess Carrie was used to pass on the message that this stuff is going to introduced in England if the Scots are sedated enough with constitutional punches and kicks to accept it.

    Just as the Scots have been used and sacrificed to accelerate colonialism within the UK, and English-dominated government, so females have been used and sacrificed to advance a different, but oddly, very similar, type of colonialism. In that sense, Nicola Sturgeon’s cohort of pseudo woke warriors, pseudo liberals and Unionists in SNP clothing have been very successful. She will end up being lauded by the foreign press as was Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, but despised at home. Meanwhile, the simmering pot of Scottish resentment will continue to bubble beneath the surface.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. To be fair to John Swinney, he was made leader with a remit to do nothing. He was a caretaker appointed to provide a pause for recovery after a period of turmoil. He did his job.

      While there is much that’s true in your characterisation of Sturgeon’s reign, none of it alters the fact that she and the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government are essential to Scotland’s cause.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Personally, I have always liked John Swinney as a man – separate from his political persona – and I take your point, but he did also head the ‘go slow’, foot-dragging contingent which have taken over again. I also agree that the SNP is necessary, as things stand now, for independence to happen. However, that could change in a heartbeat, as it did in Ireland at the beginning of the 20th century. Inertia can never be a political policy, and Nicola Sturgeon should know that. Frankly, I do not believe she can hold the illusion much longer that she is actually doing something towards regaining our independence. Do you see anyone within the SNP hierarchy at present, Peter, who could take her place and restart the fight? If he or she is there, he or she is either hiding in plain sight or is not part of the hierarchy yet. Far too many YES men and women around her, nodding doggies. That does not mean that there is not someone who would step out of her shadow if she started to topple. But, who? That is the question, and, frankly, the worry because it could be someone even more inclined to authoritarianism than Nicola Sturgeon herself.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. I might be prepared to support a degree of directed authoritarianism in exchange for serious leadership towards independence, but I don’t see too many candidates in the remaining shell of the SNP. And that hollowed out husk is not exacly an environment where leadership potential can grow, just the opposite in fact – it is more likely to be stubbed out as a threat.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have long maintained that it would be necessary to afford the SNP (as the party of government) a degree of power normally considered unacceptable if it was to do the job we want it to do. To an extent, that is what members did over the first 3 or 40 years of Sturgeon’s leadership. But the power has not been directed to its intended purpose. Now, we have no way to take that power back. Not in the short term. Which is the only term we have. So we have to do something to force the party back onto the independence track. And ensure that it’s the right track.

      As a competing political party with precisely zero influence or leverage, Alba is just about as decisively disqualified as its possible to imagine. Even SNP Members for Independence is no longer a suitable vehicle on account of its party affiliation. White Rose Rising attempts to be the non-party, agenda-free option for those wanting total focus on the constitutional issue and a point around which the Yes movement can unite.

      In White Rose Rising you have a bit of that “directed authoritarianism” you mention. Although with no actual authority. It stays non-party and agenda-free because it is whatever I say it is. And I will not be pressured by ‘members’ or ‘supporters’ into departing from this total focus on the constitutional issue. It is an unfortunate fact that as soon as you open up a campaigning group to the influence of members it falls prey to entryists who seek to piggy-back their own egos or agendas on the whatever popularity the group achieves.

      The only ego in White Rose Rising is mine. And that doesn’t amount to much. I have absolutely no personal ambition, unless it’s to not have to do this shit any more.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. If we are allowed to be light hearted , I’ve got a feeling Mr Gove’s self-perception is more about the dog’s bollocks than its erse ! Still worth kicking.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Meanwhile, in a tweet by Grouse Beater on 9.10.21 we are informed that Westminster’s new ‘Act of Union’ Bill has begun its second reading in the House of Lords. Introduced back in late 2018 it was shelved for the GE. It is now on the move. Briefly UK will be 4 parts viz;- England, Wales, NI and Scotland and is a federal system (bye bye Devolution) for the newly to be formed ‘UK Parliament’ which will replace the House of Commons. Whatever the Scottish Governments intentions are for independence it needs to be announced without much more delay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Act of Union Bill (2018) is a Private Members’ Bill starting in the House of Lords. As such, it would not normally be expected to be enacted. Also, as it stands the Bill seems quite innocuous. I stress SEEMS. There are some worrying provisions. But there are also safeguards – such as the need for a commencement referendum before the Act can come into effect with the requirement that it gain a qualified majority (65%) in the UK as a whole as well as a majority in each of the four constituent parts of the UK.

      The concern must be that this Bill might be picked up by the British government when it arrives in the House of Commons and that it is substantially amended in ways that make it anything but innocuous from the perspective of anyone other than a hard-line British Nationalist. Alternatively, it may be that the Bill is merely a kite flying exercise and that it is not this one that should worry us but the one that comes after.

      Either way, the Act of Union Bill represents the kind of ‘reform’ of the UK constitution which I and a few others warned was sure to ensue from Brexit. Those voices were barely audible in all the shouting about the economic implications of the UK leaving the EU. It’s as if we are sleepwalking into a constitutional trap.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Act of Union bill sounds like a potential “stealth bill” , could easily be amended in H of C , picture Ian Blackford bloviating about “Scotland never being dragged into a Union against its will” nasty case of deja vu

        Liked by 1 person

  6. an aside .. spotted on some news that the uk is one of the “most nature-depleted countries in the world”. It could be better argued if England were a stand alone nation then the news articles could be more shocking due to Welsh and Scottish extensive swathes of natural beauty.
    Possibly this could be worked into persuading the environmentalists to be more Indy-Pro scots?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As well as replacing ‘tory tory tory’, we urgently need some apposite chants/placards for Nov 6th March. Water? Every single English region’s water companies fail sepa (good name) standards and its getting worse. Two south east england areas currently advised to boil their tap water due to e coli contamination. ‘What do we want? Water!” “When do we want it? Forever” “Grouse moor grouse moor grouse moor Nae More” “breid an rosettes o poached salmon” “venison and hydroponic lettuce burders”……. maybe getting too wordy noo. Any ideas?

      Liked by 2 people

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