Contrary to an assertion made in an exchange on Facebook, it is surpassingly easy to “judge the idea of Alba”. Once you rid yourself of the fantasy politics and deal with the reality, that is. It’s only clinging to the fantasy that prevents someone seeing that reality. And, perhaps more importantly, recognising and accepting the implications of the reality. I say more important because when pressed people tend to admit to whatever bit of the reality they are being pressed on. But they continue to deny the necessary implications. And they continue to to deny other aspects of the reality.
The dullards of both Sturgeon/SNP and Salmond/Alba camps are ready to pounce at this point. Each accusing the other of being first and worst in relation to whatever criticism follows. Neither smart enough to consider that it really doesn’t matter which was first or which is worst, the result is the same. So long as their sole modus operandi is to blame each other both tribes will ‘evolve’ into blame machines capable of nothing else but blaming one another. Just as when an organisation’s strategy is waiting so it adapts at all levels to serve that strategy. It’s main or even sole purpose comes to be finding ways to rationalise further procrastination. Now where might we see an illustrative example of that?
Let the dullards pounce. I shall merely point out that whatever criticism is levelled at one tribe applies equally to the other. Or has a parallel in the other.
Returning to that matter of fantasy politics and denial of reality and/or the necessary implications thereof, we can elucidate this by referring to some specific aspect of the reality and its implications and how either or both tribes deal with this.
Press Alba devotees on the matter and they will tend to acknowledge the reality that only the Scottish Government acting through the Scottish Parliament can possibly initiate and pursue the process which leads to the restoration of Scotland’s independence. They will admit it with varying degrees of reluctance. Some will refuse to acknowledge it at all. There’s probably no help for those ones. But even those who do accept that only the Scottish Government can do what’s necessary almost always go on to flatly deny the necessary implication that this means it really is ‘all about the SNP’, to coin a phrase. It has to be all about the SNP because only the SNP is the party of government. And realistically speaking, only the SNP is going to be the party of government for the entire relevant time-frame.
The fantasists get around this by a neat bit of doublethink. Alba devotees will claim that the party came into existence to address a lack of urgency on the constitutional issue. Which necessarily implies that time is a critical factor. But when forced to face the reality that it is ‘all about the SNP’ they resort to denying that time matters. They will typically respond saying the SNP won’t always be the party of government. That things change. But the reality is that things cannot change quickly enough. The time-frame – as dictated by other aspects of the political and practical reality – is the current parliamentary term. There is no way the party of government can change within that period.
The parallel to this bit of reality denial in relation to the Sturgeon/SNP tribe would be the belief in ‘Nicola’s Great Secret Plan’. I trust I don’t have to explain in great detail what is meant by this. Basically, it’s the faith position that Sturgeon has a cunning plan that is known only to her and her inner circle and which she cannot reveal because her opponents haven’t managed to figure out what she has managed to figure out.
This is, of course, a pile of pish. For there to be such a thing as ‘Nicola’s Great Secret Plan’ there would have to be a near-infinite number of options available as components of this ‘plan’, some of which are known only to her and her confidantes. The reality denied by the Sturgeon/SNP loyalists and believers in ‘Nicola’s Great Secret Plan’ is that there are rules and procedures and practicalities which severely limit the number of options available. And anybody who is sufficiently acquainted with the reality is readily able to work out any and all of the options that are available in the real world as well as all possible combinations and permutations of those options.
Thus, the ‘Great Secret Plan’ is for all relevant purposes, an impossibility. It doesn’t exist because the reality is such that it cannot exist. It is, by definition, a fantasy.
When confronted with the facts and irrefutable arguments which throw a spotlight on any aspect of their respective fantasies both tribes resort to the same tactic of circling back to some other bit of reality-denial. Which is in very large part what has made to whole ‘debate’ cyclic and repetitive and vacuous and arid in a way that makes it an intolerable environment for rational minds. The similarities/parallels with religious faith are oft remarked upon.
As I said at the outset, it is surpassingly easy to “judge the idea of Alba”. Taking due account of all factors and their implications and joining all the dots there is only one possible conclusion – Alba Party is pointless. Alba can do precisely nothing in terms of advancing Scotland’s cause. I stress yet again for the benefit of the obstinately stupid, similar/parallel criticisms can be levelled at the SNP. Indeed, that will be the immediate and only response of Alba devotees unwilling (unable?) to address the criticism of their own tribe. They will come back with some whinge about the SNP which while essentially factual is totally irrelevant and so frequently repeated as to have become nothing more than an irritating background whine. With the other tribe adding its own discordant whine resulting in a cacophony that is insufferably offensive to the sensibilities of people of normal intelligence.
The only thing Alba brings to a situation already rendered woeful by the failures and failings of Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP is to aggravate the division in the Yes movement by providing a point around which the disaffected and disenchanted can coalesce. Unfortunately, it tends to be the most unthinking among dissenters who are first attracted to this point of coalescence and who cling to it as an anchor for their fantasy politics. Which is not to say that all Alba members/supporters are “unthinking”. Only that there will be a higher proportion of unthinking individuals than might be expected among the ‘early adopters’ and most ardent devotees. exactly the same can be said of Sturgeon/SNP loyalists. Especially believers in ‘Nicola’s Great Secret Plan’.
There in a rather large nutshell you have the nub of the problem facing the Yes movement. Discourse within the movement has come to be dominated by the mob mentality of tribalism. The voices of rational dissent can barely be heard. They are heard only by those who know that they exist and where they are to be found. They are effectively excluded from wider discourse and so cannot find a wider audience. A vicious cycle ensues whereby the awfulness of this dogma-driven discourse drives out reasoned perspectives and rational analysis leaving only the faith positions and fantasy politics.
That’s why even lifelong independence activists such as myself are increasingly in despair. What we see – and here I presume to speak for all of what we might call the rational voices of dissent – is a movement which having been a democratic wonder is now on a trajectory of doom. Effectively, there is no Yes movement any more. There is no independence campaign. The movement has succumbed to factionalism. The campaign has fragmented into an seething mass of proliferating ’causes’.
It might well be argued that those of us who persist with the Yes movement and the campaign to restore Scotland’s independence are as guilty of clinging to a fantasy as the loyalists and devotees of both SNP and Alba tribes.
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15 thoughts on “A mire of fantasy”
An accurate summary of where we are. Is there a secret plan? With tongue firmly in cheek, I venture to suggest there may be. Kate Forbes has announced a further delay to the 10 year economic strategy for Scotland (not important enough for the First Minister to do so).
This is understandable because the secret plan will be incorporated within the economic strategy. A 10 year economic plan within the Union would confirm independence is dead for the next decade and council elections are looming next May, so cannot risk that.
The current delay on the 10 year economic plan is to allow for the incorporation of a transition period strategy following a vote for independence, and such forward thinking is to be commended. It will be difficult to project beyond the transition period because it will be necessary to hold a a General Election following independence. Given the current priorities of the SNP Government, their re-election in an independent Scotland will be in some doubt but they will rejoice – goal achieved!
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At least you’ve given that tiresome old conspiracy theory a wee lick of paint.
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Hi Peter, hope you had a good break. 2 things – I’ve probably met more ALBA members recently than you have, I don’t believe I’ve had a single conversation with an unthinking person. Your assertion of unthinkingness is pretty baseless in my experience. Secondly , and I have asked you this question before without an answer, would you prefer that ALBA didn’t exist and that the SNP was the only pro-independence party ? (I use the term Pro Independence Party loosely)
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If they’re not unthinking why has not a single Alba member or supporter been able to respond to the criticisms I first published months ago and posted countless times since. Not a single meaningful response in all that time. Just abuse.
I’ve answered that question more than once. It’s pretty obvious its just a ploy to evade the real issue. Alba is trying to deceive voters. If they weren’t then they’d have at least have attempted to rebut those two articles.
Don’t worry. I’m not asking you to do it. I wouldn’t want to embarrass you. Besides, you’ve had plenty opportunity to do so.
I have had no opportunity to respond Peter, as I don’t even know the articles/criticisms you refer to, so point me to them and I’ll respond. Oh – by the way would you prefer ALBA didn’t exist ? – was that a “yes” ?
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The articles in question were first published in April 2021. Links have since been posted countless times on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and here. Including, I’m almost certain, in direct responses to yourself.
The answer to your question is the same as it was last time and the time before that. I don’t care. How often and in how many ways do I have to state that Alba Party is irrelevant. It cannot do anything to progress Scotland’s cause. It has no power, no influence and no leverage. It might be argued that if Alba didn’t exist then we wouldn’t have the abysmal tribalism that has all but entirely replaced rational discourse within the Yes movement. I suspect, however, that if it hadn’t been Alba it would have been something else. And it would have had the same destructive effect. The SNP – more specifically Nicola Sturgeon – created a space that was bound to be filled. The solidarity, focus and discipline necessary simply doesn’t exist within the Yes movement that would have allowed it to resist the pressure to fill that space. There were two ways to go. One was easy. One was hard. By far the largest part of the Yes movement chose the easy way. For the most part, the difficult course of action didn’t even enter their thinking. Now, the price of that choice has to be paid.
Alba Party is the product of political stupidity. Not because it’s Alba Party or because of the people who’ve fallen under the spell of the fantasy politics it represents. The fantasy already existed. It just happens to be your party that has seized upon it as a tool by which to manipulate voters. If it hadn’t been Alba, it would have been something indistinguishable from Alba. Resisting the appeal of the fantasy required too much thought and effort. Creating Alba – or some Alba-like thing – was the immediately obvious way to go. Thinking beyond the obvious was, for the most part, not even recognised as a possibility.
There is no fix for this. The kind of polarisation that has been allowed to develop between Alba and SNP cannot be rectified. Which is why it was so important to avoid creating the situation in the first place. Alba and SNP supporters will respond to my comments in identical ways. Each will blame the other. Each will accuse me of attacking them and defending the other. Both will be oblivious to the fact that their blaming of the other is precisely the thing that they’re blaming the other for. They’re both right. Neither can see how right the other is. People are blind to their own tribalism. They see only the tribalism of the other. The tribalism is thus self-perpetuating and self-reinforcing. When somebody like myself comes along and points out that both are to blame because both are essential parts of the same dynamic, both will typically agree that the tribalism is terrible before proceeding to blame the other and thus contribute to the tribal dynamic without having any conscious awareness of their role in perpetuating the dynamic that they agree is terrible.
In short, it’s a total fuck-up.
If I was asked to identify a culprit it would be time. What has happened to the Yes movement – the decay that has set in – is what tends to happen to organisations if nothing is done to prevent it happening. Movements like Yes are like very loose organisations. Being loose makes them more susceptible to the decay we’re now witnessing. There is no leadership and therefore no effective management of the organisation such as would prevent the decay. What has happened was always going to happen. It was predictable. It was predicted. Not in its specifics but in a general sense. The decay can manifest in different ways. But it’s still decay. It is still debilitating and destructive whatever form it takes. Knowing that this decay was inevitable there were two choices – prevent it happening by installing effective leadership; or prevent it happening by denying the decay time to develop. The SNP in the person of Nicola Sturgeon failed to provide the needed leadership. The Yes movement failed to develop the leadership internally. By mid-2018 it was already too late. The first signs of decay were already apparent. It was all downhill from there. It was only a matter of how far and how fast.
It is now impossible to engage with discourse on the constitutional issue without becoming mired in the tribal conflict between the SNP and Alba. In fact, there is no discourse. The term suggests some kind of progress or at least some king of movement. There is neither. I look at social media and alternative media and see little that is different from what I saw there a year ago. It’s just endless repetition of the same tribal shite. It doesn’t matter what I say or write I will be accused by both tribes of attacking them and/or favouring the other. The issues raised are not addressed. The questions are not answered. Neither tribe will engage meaningfully with someone they perceive to be in the other camp. So there is no engagement. There is no longer much point in saying or writing anything. Whatever it is it will be dragged down to the level of the tribal conflict. There is no space for anyone who ventures to think outside that nasty little box.
All of the foregoing is totally and utterly pointless. As you will doubtless demonstrate.
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I have to admit, Peter, that you bring up very salient points about the situation we find ourselves in now. When the super majority was seen to be a pipe dream in the Scottish elections and it was so obvious that the SNP leadership would prefer to allow Unionists into Holyrood before independence-supporting ‘others’, it became evident then that, unless something momentous were to happen in relation to ALBA, we were going nowhere fast. The way in which Alec Salmond was ‘othered’ must have repercussions, too, because few people arise intact out of the ashes of such allegations, and it will always be possible for the spin doctors of the SNP to bring up the allegations even though they were trounced in court. Small-mindedness and petty bickering are, unfortunately, part of the human condition – especially in Scotland where navel-gazing has become an art form.
Basically, the SNP has become the Scottish equivalent of the two main Irish parties – content to tread water – the difference being that at least Ireland did gain its independence before it started to splinter into factions. Scotland is the example par excellence of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory while, simultaneously, shooting itself in the foot and tripping up on its own bootlaces. No one actually is willing to take the step that will take us down the first tentative mile towards independence because everyone is too busy digging in for the long haul, rather like the WW I trenches – an inch here, a foot there; I’ll gas you today and you gas me tomorrow. I feel an extra layer of alienation, being a woman stuck in No Man’s Land between two warring factions that will not see what they should have done after the referendum: instead of going straight thereafter to international community, having built a case against Westminster’s interference (it would have taken months at the most); instead of putting the brakes on the pseudo ‘woke’ movement; instead of refusing to be beaten, we all accepted what was an insult to democracy on so many levels, and did nothing. We are where we are because we are all guilty of playing the game, kow towing to elements that are inimical to our well-being now and, certainly, in the future. All we did was store up unbearable pain for the future, as we are discovering.
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Peter you seem to suggest that people moved from SNP to Alba. I had left the SNP because had moral questions about the actions of the senior management.
Because I believed that both votes SNP was merely a strategy to ensure the election of Unionists I supported an alternative organisation to give people who support an Independent Scotland an opportunity to gain list members (and to register my protest at the blatant gerrymandering of the list candidates in my region.) The alternative didn’t prosper and was subsumed by Alba, but don’t say I switched
Sadly I have come to believe that the SNP under its present management will not enable an Independent Scotland to be even planned for. The chance of an Independent Scotland which seemed so bright in 2014 now seems to be receding. There is not even managerial competence as policies which do not seem to be popular are pushed at an ideological level.
In the story of the Exodus of the Children of Israel, quite early in their travels they were geared up to invade Canna. RTHey sent out spies, but when the spies came back they pointed out the practical difficulties of the invasion, and the people chickened, and they were condemned to wander until the whole generation had died out and were replaced by strong people who didn’t think like ex slaves.
I would suggest that there are lessons for Scotland from this story.
Are you denying that people move from SNP to Alba? Assuming Alba has some members they must have come from somewhere. Are you trying to maintain that they were all previously unaffiliated?
The rest is just the very repetitive, whining tribalism I referred to in the article. Supposing you actually read and understood that article it is interesting – in a clinical sense – that you remain oblivious to the dumb denial of time as a factor in your final paragraph. Thanks for your help in making my point.
Of course they did, Peter. They couldn’t stomach the SNP another day. This will play out one of three ways: either ALBA will overtake the SNP (leadership) and head straight to independence, after a cataclysmic event brings the former down or we do what almost every other independence movement in the history of the planet has done, and most would never countenance that or we disappear in a puff of smoke. Alba did offer the hand of friendship in the recent SE. A supermajority was possible through an alliance of all independence parties had the SNP made that a manifesto pledge. Instead, the leadership decided that its insane social policies were more important than independence. It will have to be removed, along with its pseudo ‘woke’ cohort, before any forward movement on independence is at all possible. There is no point in your ranting at the rest of us and taking us for fools. Many women in the party did say years back that this lot would implode the SNP but too many men, yourself included, Peter, with all due respect, saw it as a women’s issue. Independence is impossible without the female vote, and thr female vote depends on getting rid of this infection in the independence movement as a whole.
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Peter, you often have interesting things to say but the I’m smarter-than-everyone else and everyone else is a dullard, obstinately stupid, a fantasist, a whinger, a whiner, insufferably offensive to the sensibilities of people of normal intelligence, tribal, dumb, etc. shtick is all a bit wearing and not the least bit constructive. You seem intent on alienating even people who read your blog, are sympathetic to some of your positions, if not in total agreement, and willing to engage. See exchange above, for example. If you think this approach is realpolitik, you are as sadly deluded as your SNP and Alba tribalists.
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What I’m doing is suggesting that Alba filled a hole for the people who had already moved on from the SNP, not as you appeared to suggest (I may have misread you) that Alba recruited directly from SNP.
By suggesting that the criticism of the SNP which I put up is merely tribalism demonstrates than you appear to be arguing for the SNP right or wrong, which is a form of tribalism yourself.
My dissatisfaction with the SNP is nothing to do with Alba, Alba merely offers a kind of home with all its imperfection.
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I’ve now read your “arithmetic” post, hadn’t done so before – not your strongest point. The supermajority was not even attempted because the SNP did not want to be put into a situation where they had a clear route to a direct mandate from the people of Scotland for independence. Dissolve the parliament, hold a fresh election based on a manifesto that a vote for an indy supporting party was a vote for independence. Even with a supermajority of course the implicit threat to dissolve the parliament as described could be sufficient to commence some movement towards independence, however it is clear as day that the SNP did not want – as you put it , to jeopardise their livelihoods. If you accept that logic then you accept that the SNP is not a party with independence anywhere near the top of its agenda.
So why do you persist in the illogical conclusion that the SNP represents the only hope for independence ?
It represents nothing of the sort, it represents a self-entitled contentment with devolution, and an eventual (maybe not so eventual) swallowing up of Scotland by England as Britain.
You haven’t explained where I was wrong. That’s OK. You were never going to. All you’ve done is resort to the tired old whine about how it’s all the SNP’s fault. Alba is not responsible for anything, apparently. You’re asking people to vote for a party that refuses to take responsibility for anything it does; instead blaming the voters and/or the media and/or the other parties for ‘cheating’. Or to put it another way, not doing what you want them to do.
You do make a serious point, however. Albeit unintentionally. Not only was Alba’s offering dishonest – as I have shown – its election strategy was totally idiotic. Not only did that strategy depend entirely on a rival party doing Alba huge favours, it depended on the SNP behaving in a way that it was NEVER going to behave. Whether it was right or wrong to decline to help Alba win seats so as to give the SNP a hard time in Parliament is irrelevant. They were NEVER going to do it. Anybody with a finger in the same postcode as the pulse of Scottish politics could see that they weren’t going to play along with Alba’s ‘cunning plan’. It simply made no sense for them to do so, in terms of real world politics. Not only was the possibility of Alba’s ‘cunning plan’ succeeding vanishingly small, even if it did work out it was no good for the cause of independence and quite bad for the SNP – in terms of real world party politics.
It was all fantasy. As far as I can make out, it still is. I realise that, as a devotee, you can never admit it. But from the perspective of a non-partisan observer Alba behaved like a bunch of amateurs. The average SNP branch could have devised and run a better campaign. Believe me when I tell you that I hoped they would do better. If only because I didn’t want to see Alex Salmond embarrassed. But to whatever extent he was responsible for Alba’s conduct in those first few weeks and months, he bloody well should be embarrassed.
Then, of course, there’s the inevitable lie – in the form of wilful misrepresentation. If you’d been paying the slightest attention to what I’ve actually been saying this past year – and if you were able to be honest about it, you’d acknowledge that what I’ve actually been saying is pretty much the opposite of what you claim. Fortunately, I reckon most people reading this will know that neither an Alba devotee nor an SNP loyalist can possibly be qualified to represent my views. Nor can they be expected to do so honestly. They just can’t. The mindset won’t let them.
For the benefit of those interested in the truth, I have never said that the SNP “represents the only hope for independence”. What I have done is dispense with the dumb fantasy politics and point out the incontrovertible fact that the SNP represents the only POSSIBILITY of independence. Why this must be so is so obvious that I can’t help but feel I’m being patronising when I explain the reason. But you demonstrate that this fact can never be obvious enough or explained simply enough to get past the barriers of the tribal mindset and the pathological need to cling to a total fantasy.
What is curious – and not a little disturbing – is that I know you well enough to be sure that you are perfectly capable of understanding my point at an intellectual level. Sadly, your mind is operating at some sub-intellectual level when it comes to the constitutional issue and the SNP. Especially the latter. It’s very sad.
To finish – and I do mean finish – I’ll explain yet again why the SNP represents the only POSSIBILITY of independence. I do so in full awareness that you and the other SNP/Alba tribespeople will misrepresent whatever I write. You just can’t help yourselves. Readers still functioning at an intellectual level will just have to bear with the unavoidable condescension. Here it is in a few short sentences of plain English.
Action to initiate the process of restoring Scotland’s independence must be taken sooner rather than later and certainly within the lifetime of the current parliament.
That action can only be taken by the Scottish Government working through the Scottish Parliament.
The SNP is currently the party of government. (For present purposes we can discount the SGP.)
The SNP will be the party of government for the entirety of the current parliament.
Saying that the whole of Scotland’s cause depends on the SNP is not to be an SNP loyalists. It is merely to follow the logic and stick to the facts and deal with the reality.
I’d say it’ll be interesting to see how you and your cronies twist that, Geoff. But it won’t. I can no longer take even an academic interest in the witless screeching and chirruping of people who put party before country and dogma before truth. I see the sickness. You are the sickness. But I accept that I can do nothing about it. The tribes will fuck Scotland’s cause regardless of anything I or anybody else says. And you’ll all be fine with that. Because you will just blame each other. Entirely. While denying any responsibility. So, effectively,nobody will be to blame. Or to look at it another way – the way I look at it – you all are to blame. Every fucking one of you. History will not be kind to either of your tribes.
Happy New Year to everyone, whatever party or none, and even if you don’t (yet) support Independence 🙂
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