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.
If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence movement.