Sometimes I envy the fantasists I so often criticise. I occasionally wish I could enjoy the Panglossian perspective of the Sturgeon/SNP loyalists who see the protracted dithering and supine inaction of the SNP/Scottish Government in the face of an accelerating British Nationalist onslaught as part of Nicola’s Great Secret Plan to “win” Scotland’s independence. I confess to moments of jealousy when I encounter folk who genuinely believe the ‘never closer to independence’ pish peddled by Alyn Smith and other smirking fools. I wish I could see Alba Party through whatever magical lens it is that allows people to suppose they’ve found the answer. I can fully appreciate the comfort to be found in thinking Alex Salmond some kind of latter-day William Wallace. If faith was not a powerful narcotic then far fewer people would succumb to its allure.
I am a little envious of those who find their ease in fantasy politics. They are spared the tide of hopelessness that washes over anybody who is cursed with a measure of cynicism and/or prey to the pessimism which inevitably afflicts those not shielddespaed from reality by the armour of delusion. Betimes, the anguish of despair felt by those who take their politics straight without the sweetening of sentimentality can be almost physically painful. Every day and wherever we encounter jarring reminders of Scotland’s predicament and the parlous state of the forces which we rely on to rescue our nation. It would be pleasant to enjoy a day free of the grief of powerless frustration. But there’s no respite.
I had one of those moments yesterday when my already low mood took a sudden precipitous plunge. All it took was a headline in the staunchly British Nationalist Telegraph.
Scots handed billions in Budget as Sunak bypasses Sturgeon
What provoked this descent into despair was knowing that what this gleefully gloating headline referred to was warned of ten years ago as among the inevitable consequence of a No vote in the 2014 referendum. It was clear from the outset that if the people of Scotland handed the British political elite a licence to do with Scotland whatever best serves the interests of the British state then they would use that licence to its fullest extent. It was obvious that they would seek to undermine the Scottish Government and delegitimise the Scottish Parliament. The power afforded England-as-Britain by the Union – particularly the stranglehold of Scotland’s finances – would be used to implement a final solution to the Scottish problem. Some of us saw it coming. But not, evidently, the people who matter.
The response from the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government has been predictably feeble. Pathetic protest that only serves to emphasise the lack of meaningful action. This headline from The National illustrates the point nicely.
SNP warn Rishi Sunak’s Budget ‘for the Union’ will undermine devolution
Well, duh! That’s precisely what it’s supposed to do! That is the intention! That and worse!
Responding to the British Chancellor of the British Exchequer’s British Budget and Spending Review, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said,
It means that money Scotland would have previously received under the seven year EU Structural Fund programmes to spend according to its own needs will now be distributed annually according to a UK Government agenda. This approach potentially leaves Scotland worse off, raises value for money concerns and undermines devolution.
Well, duh! Apologies for repeating myself. And for the hackneyed yoof-speak. But how else should one react to this combination of stating the obvious and understating the implications. It’s almost as if the SNP hierarchy considers the British state to be committed to devolution. As if the undermining of the devolution settlement was incidental to the main thrust of Sunak’s budget. As if the damage to devolution was an unintended effect that the British government was unaware of and had to be warned about.
What Kate Forbes says is all true. But all she does is describe in a rather low-key fashion a process that has been ongoing since at least 2011 and to some extent from 2007. Both significant dates in terms of the British waking up to the fact that in the Scottish Parliament they had created a monster capable of freeing Scotland from the shackles of the Union. That could not be allowed to happen. Steps would have to be taken to ensure that it didn’t happen. The ‘precious’ Union had to be preserved at any cost.
For those of us who recognised this ten years ago and more the only surprise is that it has taken so long. I know I anticipated that the British state would act more swiftly than it has to disarm and neutralise Scotland’s independence campaign. But they’ve been given that time. They’ve been put under no pressure. For the last seven years the SNP/Scottish Government has been what we might call the Blackford approach described in a previous article.
Nobody could ever accuse Mr Blackford of having a limited range. On the contrary. He can do all of three speeches. The one with the dire warning about what the British government is about to do before they do it. The one loudly objecting to what the British government is doing while it’s doing it. And the one angrily protesting against what the British government has done after it has done it. Then it’s places again for a repeat performance. Ad nauseam!Can we roll credits now?
Because the SNP/Scottish Government has done and is doing nothing to stop or even hinder the British as they dismantle Scotland’s democracy and obliterate our identity as a nation the British can take a leisurely approach to the process of locking Scotland into a new constitutional arrangement imposed unilaterally and without consultation or consent. Events have conspired to aid them. But the total absence of any meaningful resistance from Scotland’s elected representatives means Boris Johnson’s regime has been able to proceed in its own bungling way without hindrance. We are now entering the end game. The indications are unmistakable. The predicted doom may be late in arriving. But that’ll be of little comfort when the deed is done and Scotland’s cause is thwarted.
Will I then be afforded the paltry satisfaction of Pyrrhic Schadenfreude as the fantasist realise their error and punish those whose failures and failings have cost Scotland so dearly? Will I have that, at least, as some form of compensation for the years of growing despair and spells of agonising despondency? Not likely! It is highly improbable that those who have squandered the momentum Scotland’s cause had in the wake of the 2014 referendum will acknowledge their culpability. And the main fantasist factions in the Yes movement who let it all go to shit will be too busy blaming each other to visit any penalty on the politicians who playing doormat to British Nationalist boots as they trample over our unfortunate nation.
I wish I was stupid! Oh, how I wish I was too stupid to realise what is happening!
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13 thoughts on “Oh, to be stupid!”
So damned predictable and avoidable. I share Mr.Bell’s feelings of doom and gloom.
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The writings have been on the wall for a very long time. Westminister direct funding into Scotland is the biggest weapon they have to combat Scottish independence. This funding will increase in line with independence support and effect. Westminister doesn’t need to convince all 45% ish of independence supporters they just need to convince 10% of the doubters those that sit on the fringes of the debate. This is their target to maintain the union.
What are we going to do about it? Peter has covered the procrastination within the SNP, but what about the Yes movement where is it where are the countermeasures needed to combat Westminister initiatives. Some bodies have a limited reach and some just talk among themselves. But none have the reach to negate the chancellor’s “gifts” We need a movement, we need a spokesperson, we need a media, and it has to happen now.
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I had a vague idea that White Rose Rising might develop into a model for the kind of entity you describe. Totally focused on the constitutional issue. And ready to resort to direct action in support of Scotland’s cause. I hoped somebody might pick it up and run with it. I’m too old and ugly and impatient and forthright to be the face and voice of the Yes movement. But there must be somebody out there who has charisma where I have only carnaptiousness.
I am of the same thoughts. At present, I feel totally disenfranchised from the independence movement, had left the SNP and joined Alba, not going to discuss that decision but that they haven’t given me the vehicle I was looking for. White Rose Rising has massive potential but as you said the idea needs a voice. I don’t know how many members WRR has but maybe a concerted campaign targeting all Scottish politicians and councilors might be a start? Unionists can be a useful tool to get media attention. Just maybe this impetus is what may be needed? Standing still changes nothing.
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Why is it that when I hear Ian Blackford’s name mentioned, all I can think of is hot air?
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Since the age of 20 not far off three score years ago, I have supported the SNP and independence regardless of many set backs. The current set back is the SNP leadership and their elected representatives who are silent with very few exceptions. Niemöller: “…and there was no one left
to speak out for me”.
I can well understand Peter’s pessimism as I feel it too. Of all the set backs faced over the decades, I believe the leadership’s current approach to independence is the greatest setback the party has ever faced, a party hiding under Covid and scared to meet members face to face at therr annual conference, a conference with resolutions which should be dealt with when independent, not as part of a devolved government, a conference which should have only one topic – independence.
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Being a glass half-full sort of person I see “Scots handed billions…” and immediately think that the average tax-payer south of the border is going to be pretty pissed off that those whinging Scots are making out like bank robbers when they can barely make ends meet. So, despite the fecklessness of the politicians, events may already be out of their hands.
Peter, I rather prize your lack of stupidity and while your “Cassandra Monologues” are inclined to inject some despair into the breathless optimists I think they’re a bracing and refreshing bucket of cold water that strengthens one’s resolve and fortifies the immune system again wanton nonsense from either Westminster or Holyrood.
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Reblogged this on Ramblings of a now 60+ Female and commented:
Aye, me too.
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Peter I frequently have made posts about how I am fast losing faith in Sturgeon delivering Independence. Within minutes I am being attacked from all sides by the Sturgeonistas all telling me I’m talking nonsense. Meanwhile most other threads I look at now agree that Sturgeon is the stumbling block. To that end I have requested a meeting with my local MSP to discuss this very concerning matter. Incidentally I have heard that Stirling has been entered into the UK City of Culture for 2025. Two years after our supposed Referendum. I hope I haven’t gone and depression you more now.
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I lost faith in Sturgeon delivering an education policy. Several years ago.
Behold the competence of a government that introduced legislation that annuls most people’s home insurance in the event of a fire, but introduced it without telling anyone. Thank God they don’t have a majority.
At least it’s ‘Scottish’ incompetence, and apparently Scottish incompetence is ultimately somebody else’s fault, or something.
Not sure why people would really want the current Scottish government to have spending responsibilities. It’s the most inept, incompetent administration in the history of Scottish political devolution.
The SNP Scottish govt, MSPs and MPs have a duty to report these Westminster transgressions WHEN THEY HAPPEN in order to inform the Scottish electorate IT HAS HAPPENED and to ensure the detrimental consequences are highlighted. To do otherwise would be a dereliction of duty.
Mr Bell seems to think he has a monopoly on prescience. That no-one in the SNP saw any of the things he rails against coming. Of course they did. The fact Kate Forbes highlights it now does not preclude her, or her colleagues, from having highlighted it from the very instance the Tories made it clear they were going to do it (they did). Or from even informing the electorate it was a possibility years prior (they did).
The narrative seems to be, if they knew it was going to happen they should have prevented it. Fine, but how. The UK government is acting within its competencies as decided by …. the UK govt. So there was no legal way to prevent it. “Ahh but”, the argument goes, “they should have delivered independence before it happened”. Thus implying there have been a points in the last seven years that Indy could have been easily achieved. Of course, there has not. Any gung-ho charge for Indy (by whatever of the plethora of dodgy mechanisms championed by arm chair constitutionalists) on the back of any one unfavourable action of the UK govt would have been almost certainly doomed to failure with the cause set back decades at least.
Shifts in polling in 2020 showed it could be achieved, and the SNP have made moves towards an imminent referendum campaign, but it will only succeed if the Indy movement works together. Not if a significant proportion of it actively works to undermine the one party that can deliver it to the almost total exclusion of any other action. There are high profile, allegedly pro-Indy sites that you will struggle to find articles promoting independence on, but will find dozens and dozens of anti-SNP articles. That will not convince one single voter to choose independence over the union. Indeed, given the relative crash in the polls for both the SNP and Indy since the malcontent band wagon got moving, it appears to have turned many formerly sympathetic voters against it (if we assume the bloggerati are as influential as they would like us to believe).
People need to KNOW the union is not in Scotland’s interests before they will vote for Indy. Browbeating them with theoretical possibilities of transgressions against Scottish interests, and calling them stupid if they don’t “get it”, convinces nobody. Unionists can easily deny the theoretical stuff and talk of “scaremongering”, they can’t deny the factual stuff with any credibility. I want a referendum to establish Scottish independence, but only if we be can be reasonably assured of winning it. To win it we need EVIDENCE not theories.
As I’ve said before, the SNP could not walk away from a failed Indy bid. They have to be as sure it will be won as they reasonably could be. The malcontents whining in the background about “missed opportunities” would be able to walk away, whistling a tuneless tune, with a “nothing to do with me guv” attitude.