According to the headline in The National today Nicola Sturgeon is about to deliver a “blueprint for independence”. I can absolutely guarantee that she won’t. Because no such thing exists. Neither can it exist. Doubtless, we’ll be graced with something. It just won’t be a “blueprint for independence”. We have grown accustomed over the last eight years to being fed little tidbits from time to time. In part, this is a reaction to a certain restiveness among independence activists. Although there is considerable doubt as to the SNP’s ability to detect any discontent among those the party regards as no more than a resource available to its election machine. Or, for that matter, their willingness to do so. The distinct impression is that they’d rather not know. Mainly, however, these tidbits are fodder for the media as well as providing something Sturgeon/SNP loyalists can wave at dissenters in the deluded belief that they are brandishing something with substance.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines a “blueprint” variously as “an early plan or design that explains how something might be achieved”; or “a complete plan that explains how to do or develop something”; or “a plan that describes how to do or achieve something in the future”. We shall quickly skip by the notion of this being “early”, and by Sturgeon’s own admission it will not be “complete”. But how might the promised document do in terms of the other parts of this definition?
It is only fair to point out that neither Sturgeon nor her spokesperson appears to have used the word “blueprint”. Nonetheless, the fact that this is the term The National immediately reaches for surely tells us something about how it is hoped the document will be perceived. This is being fed to the media in full awareness of the fact that they will chew it up and spit out a “blueprint” regardless of what the document actually contains. Nicola Sturgeon wants people to think she is outlining a plan. In reality, she is doing no more than offering a ‘vision’. Selling independence as if it was a time-share villa in Spain. Adding a bit more gloss to the glossy brochure.
There are two things that might justify the description of the anticipated document as a “blueprint for independence”. It could be a plan (or extract) stating in detail how Scotland will be as an independent nation. It won’t be that. Partly because nobody can prescribe what future Scottish Governments will do. Nor can they predict what those administrations will do. But principally because even if any of this ‘plan’ was deliverable it would not be delivered by the vote in the referendum. It could only be delivered by votes in future elections. And even if the Scottish Government today could stipulate what future Scottish Governments must do, it cannot stipulate what the people must vote for. So definitely not a “blueprint”.
The other way for the document to earn the “blueprint” epithet is if it explained “how something might be achieved”. More specifically – since it is described as a “blueprint for independence” – it might rightly be called such if it set out or at least sketched the process by which the First Minister intends to “achieve” independence. I may be on slightly less safe ground guaranteeing that it won’t be this, but I’ll take a chance. Other than the use of the term “blueprint” in the headline everything else said about the document – which isn’t much – indicates that it is yet another of those ‘vision’ things. As if we were short of those! The independence project is choking on bloody ‘visions’. The core constitutional question is all but obscured by the fog of different ‘visions’ being expounded by every party, group or faction within the Yes movement. It’s confusing. Which is precisely what our opponents want.
I have responded to Richard Walker’s column in The National elsewhere. But his final paragraph is ‘interesting’ in the context of this article.
Scotland voted No in 2014 because we didn’t convince enough to vote Yes. As we set our sights on indyref2 before the end of next year, let’s work tirelessly to make sure that we don’t make the same mistake again.Richard Walker: It’s not Boris Johnson, it’s all the UK leaders Scotland never chose
This repeats the SNP’s line and nicely illustrates the abysmal failure to properly analyse the first referendum campaign and learn the lessons it held. The SNP and the army of loyalists, apologists, careerists and assorted parasites she has gathered around her adhere obdurately to the notion that we need only rerun the 2014 Yes campaign but with an even glossier glossy brochure filled with even more brightly coloured pictures and even more deftly crafted words. The notion that there is some magical formulation of the ‘independence message’ that will occasion a mass epiphany among No voters. This is, of course, a load of shite. Independent Scotland is not a time-share apartment in Marbella and there is no such thing as magic.
Scotland voted No in 2014 because the anti-independence campaign – with a great deal of help from the SNP and the wider Yes movement – succeeded in generating enough doubt around the word ‘independence’. This is an example of the lessons that the SNP has unforgivably refused to learn. One of the greatest mistakes of the first Yes campaign was the failure to make the case against the Union. The negative side without which any political campaign is incomplete and therefore ineffective.
As things stand, Nicola Sturgeon is working tirelessly to ensure all the same mistakes are made again.
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.