That Toni Giugliano is an idiot has already been established. But it seems that his earlier remarks fomenting division in the independence movement by defining exclusive and excluded categories was not as I had supposed an utterance born of careless idiocy, but a statement of quite deliberate idiocy. In this report from The Sunday National, he is totally explicit in setting out his intention that the ‘official’ Yes movement shall henceforth be an exclusive club from which are excluded all those parts of the original Yes movement which are not approved by the SNP leadership. Which means any individual, group or organisation so much as suspected of being capable of questioning the Sturgeon doctrine and the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government’s approach to the constitutional issue.
There has always been a deal of control-freakery about the SNP. I didn’t necessarily disapprove of this. I certainly understood it. When your political opponents are backed by close to 100% of the media you must be a bit fanatical about protecting your image and controlling your message. That is just political realism. But as with so many things, there is a line that when crossed takes control-freakery from the territory of tactical necessity into the realm of unreasonable repression. Whether Toni Giugliano can still see that line when he looks over his shoulder is of academic interest only. For those of us stubbornly refusing to forsake reason he appears as a figure marching boldly in the opposite direction.
Taking the Alba/SNP schism as symptomatic of the fractious fragmentation afflicting the once solid Yes movement, Toni Giugliano’s ‘solution’ to the tribalism is to formalise the division by creating an ‘us’ of the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government plus those parts of the Yes movement under its control while othering the rest. That’s a lot of ‘other’! But the SNP and those the party has captured need not be concerned as there is barely a vanishingly small chance of that ‘other’ coalescing into a single force capable of challenging the hegemony of the new ‘Yes Club’. The SNP – for which read Nicola Sturgeon – will dictate the agenda with nodding dogs such as Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp (in his various guises) lending a veneer of popular support.
There are some who will totally approve this hijacking of the Yes movement. SNP/Sturgeon loyalists have been informally othering those who decline to embrace the partisan dogma for a while now. It is safe to assume they will welcome Toni Giugliano’s formalisation of exclusivity and exclusion. So long as they get to be the ‘us’ and not the ‘them’ these sad souls will be satisfied. There are also those who will ask why it matters. There has long been a thick spreading of shallow thinkers who imagine tribalism to be something which can be switched off like an electric lamp. They are to be found all over social media pleading for an end to the “in-fighting” supported by a reminder that “we’re all after the same thing”. Less shallow thinkers question the truth of this. Those who think at all can hardly avoid wondering whether we are indeed “all after the same thing”.
There was a time when it was safe to assume that everybody who identified with the Yes movement was working towards a common objective. There were disagreements about the detail and regarding what was entailed by achieving the common goal of restoring Scotland’s independence. There were different thoughts as to how we should best proceed. But always there was the kernel of fully restored sovereignty around which the Yes movement coalesced. And there was broad if often very grudging acceptance of the SNP as the party of independence. The Yes movement’s source of effective political power. Even if with great reluctance it was generally accepted that a vote for the SNP was a vote for independence and that it was essential to vote for the SNP in order that restoration of our independence should remain a possibility.
All of that has changed. Now, when the SNP or its puppets talk of a “Spring indy push” it is reasonable and necessary to ask what exactly we’d be pushing for. Would it be independence as we understand it?. Or would it be something else? Something that Nicola Sturgeon finds expedient? Some compromise that sells Scotland short?
When Nicola Sturgeon or members of Toni Giugliano’s ‘Yes Club’ (membership strictly by invitation) talk about a referendum, should we suppose them to mean a free and fair referendum entirely made and managed in Scotland under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament? Or should we be mindful of what I’m sure was not intended as a warning from The Sunday National.
The Scottish Government have [sic] promised to hold a second independence referendum by the end of 2023 so long as the pandemic is over and want to reach agreement on the vote with the Prime Minister, as was the case in 2014.
This being the case, we are certainly not being asked to “push” for a free and fair referendum as such a thing must be entirely ruled out the moment there is talk of involving a foreign power. For the purposes of Scotland’s constitutional struggle the British state must be regarded as a foreign power. And a hostile one into the bargain.
Is it not a sickening summation of where we are with Scotland’s cause that it is now to be managed by an elitist clique who would include the British political elite in the process while excluding many (most?) of those who made the Yes movement a glorious democratic phenomenon? Scotland’s cause – the cause of restoring Scotland’s independence – is to be in the hands of an exclusive, secretive and ever distrustful ‘Yes Club’ with Toni Giugliano as its membership secretary. The rest of us are being asked to lend our support without having any input or influence and without knowing exactly what it is we’re campaigning for.
I am reluctant.
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