I am not picking on Kirsty Strickland. I have selected her column in today’s National only because it so neatly exemplifies the fallacy that has gripped a substantial part of the Yes movement. I could have taken the First Minister’s appearance on Sophy Ridge on Sunday and her conclusions regarding the latest anti-democratic pronouncements from Liz Truss.
That is a sign of fundamental weakness and a lack of confidence in her case for the Union.
I could have taken any of numerous below-the-line comments from Yes activists who think in a similar vein. Not all of them known Sturgeon/SNP loyalists who’s thinking always shadows that of the FM. I was spoilt for choice when looking for material to illustrate the delusion rife among independence campaigners that the British political elite is running scared. I chose Kirsty’s column because there is just so much that is just so wrong in it. Almost every sentence is suffused with the delusion of a British state in a state of panic and the grotesquely quaint notion that right can be expected to triumph over might. In the world inhabited by Ms Strickland, the good guys win because they are the good guys and the bad guys get their comeuppance because everybody loves it when the bad guys get their comeuppance.
In the real world, might shites on right. The good guys get reamed and the bad guys prosper. Fade to black. Roll credits.
Kirsty opens by summarising the measures being suggested by which the next British government might thwart Scotland’s democratic campaign to restore independence. There is little of deviousness in these proposals. Not unless you think using Thor’s hammer to crack a nut is the height of Machiavellian craftiness. There is no subtlety at all in the ‘refinements’ to the rules of British ‘demockracy’ intended to (a) make it impossible to hold a constitutional referendum and/or (b) make it impossible for the pro-independence side to win any such referendum. There is no longer even the pretence of respect for Scotland or Scotland’s people or democracy or basic human decency or fundamental fairness or logic or coherence or consistency. There is just conscienceless brute force behind the blunt instrument of the Union. There is just the overweening mechanistic force of the British establishment roused in defence of its power, privilege and patronage.
Not that Kirsty or the First Minister or any of the below-the-line commenters are daunted. They are unafraid because by some deft twist of logic they see the British state’s power as working against it. They suppose the diktats being handed down by Truss and her ilk are signs of weakness. As Kirsty puts is,
This is desperation on the part of Unionist politicians. They are so unconvinced by their own arguments that they are prepared to subvert democratic norms to get what they want.
It is not desperation. It is determination. Preservation of the Union is an imperative for the British. They will do anything to maintain possession of Scotland. Literally, anything. They do not regard the measures being proposed as extreme or even extraordinary. For the British, it’s just what they do. The British ruling elites don’t have to work themselves up to crushing democracy under the heel of self-interest. They do this quite casually. Denying fundamental democratic rights is all in a day’s work.
They are not “unconvinced by their own arguments”. They are totally and unshakeably convinced of their own entitlement. There is only one “argument” and that is that there can be no argument about British supremacy. This is not mere political conviction or ideological dogma. It is belief. It is the absolute faith of the religious fanatic.
So, they are “prepared to subvert democratic norms to get what they want”! So what? This and much more besides is easily, instantly, automatically justified by the imperative to preserve the Union. This is not the British state doing something untoward. This is the British state doing what comes naturally. This is the British state doing what it evolved to do.
Here’s Kirsty Strickland again.
That’s the thing about democracy: it only really works if the rules and norms are applied equally and with a degree of logical consistency.
Wrong! For the British, democracy is only working if they are winning. Democracy is only working to the extent that it serves whatever are regarded as being the British state’s interests at any given time. As those interests change so then must the “rules and norms of democracy”. In the lexicon of British imperialism “applied equally” means favouring the British state and “logical consistency” means consistently benefitting the British state. What they do is democratic because democracy is defined as what they do.
We know how indyref2 would work because (as Unionists love to remind us) we’ve already had an independence referendum.
The standard has been set and the rules have already been decided. They cannot be changed on the whim of an incoming UK prime minister whose only contribution to the debate so far has been to pledge to ignore Scotland’s First Minister.
Wrong! What we know if we’ve been attending to the lessons of the first referendum and taking due account of all that has changed in the intervening period is that the same standard and rules cannot apply. The British have made it abundantly clear that they have no intention whatever of playing the same game by the same rules. Those rules bloody well can be “changed on the whim of an incoming UK prime minister”. The rules can be whatever the British Prime Minister wants then to be. The Union says so! The Scotland Act says so! The 2014 referendum result says so!
Not only can the British change the rules to suit themselves, that is exactly what they are doing all the time. It’s what they are doing right now. And Nicola Sturgeon has no grounds for complaint given that she has conceded the British state’s right to make and alter the rules. She did that when she requested a Section 30 order. She does that every time she insists that we must be bound by the British state’s laws. It makes no sense to complain about British interference when you have not only permitted but invited that interference.
These bullish attempts to gerrymander the referendum come from a place of weakness, not strength. Not only are they doomed to fail, but they also have the opposite effect to that which is intended.
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! This is most emphatically not weakness. It would only be weakness if the threats were empty and idle. But they’re not. So long as we allow that the British state has a role in the process by which Scotland exercises its right of self-determination, then we better resign ourselves to the fact that it will be a dominant role. If we allow that British law and British rules take precedence over democratic principles then we better get used to the idea that the British will ‘adjust’ those laws and rules in such a way as to ensure our defeat.
These efforts by the British political elite to ride roughshod over Scotland’s democracy are not “doomed to fail”. They are destined to succeed if we imagine they will be defeated by their own iniquitousness.
Those efforts do not “have the opposite effect to that which is intended”. The iniquitousness of British behaviour does not translate to advantage for Scotland’s cause. If it did, Yes would surely be sitting at 80% in the polls. The British state keeps getting worse and worse, but the polls show no inclination to move in correlation.
I say all of this not to portray the British state as invincible or to suggest that the efforts of the Yes movement must be futile. I say it because I do not think the British state is invincible. I do not regard the fight to restore Scotland’s independence as doomed. But we have no chance of succeeding so long as we pretend that we’ve already won. We absolutely must recognise the true nature of the forces arrayed against us. We cannot possibly develop an effective strategy while we imagine the British state to be weakened and failing.
We must rid ourselves of the fallacy that being right is enough to ensure victory even against an opponent so clearly in the wrong. We must not succumb to the folly of thinking today’s British Nationalism can be fended off using strategies designed for the Unionism of ten years ago.
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11 thoughts on “Fallacy and folly”
There is so much wrong with KS’ piece … and you have pointed out all the errors, fatuous assertions and pusillanimous platitudes contained therein.
She is far from alone in the commentaries and opinions published in The National and I sometimes wonder if some of the most prominent writers have taken spiked drinks before posting their latest thoughts. If that were the case they are in for a big shock once the happy-clappy effects of lysergic acid diethylamide wear off and the nightmarish reality trip of brutish British rule becomes all too evident.
More likely, however, Ms Strickland is simply echoing the statements of Nicola Sturgeon, Ian Blackford and Keith Brown over the weekend.
Kirsty Strickland, her fellow journos at the National and the SNP/Scottish Government need to be told that wishful thinking won’t make it so.
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The. Article and commentary by SNP apparatchiks and the FM seem to reflect a domestication of the drive for independence. It’s clear that there is to be no fight, no drive for and to independence under Sturgeon’s caretakership of the Scottish Govt. I’m convinced that she is fine with the Supreme Court finding that Westminster has the power not the SG in delivering a referendum. Both she and her husband have too much invested in the status quo. And so the desire for independence was quelled for another generation.
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Nailed it again, Peter. You would actually think that no one in Scotland had ever read any history at all about the British Empire. We got the first referendum through Labour who went on to gerrymander it with the 40% rule, and we ‘lost’; we got the second through the efforts of Alec Salmond, who managed to outmanoeuvre David Cameron, who, much as it pains me to say it, was, fundamentally, a decent enough Tory who also hedged his bets on the outcome. If Scotland voted YES, he would be relieved of having to introduce the Brexit referendum, which he thought he would lose (rightly) because England would not have voted to come out on its own without Scotland. If Scotland voted NO, which he was almost certain it would, he was still in with a chance on Brexit. Every British party is against independence and they all work together, despite their differences in other areas, to thwart us. I honestly do not believe that there is anything to which they would not stoop to keep us corralled, and I absolutely agree with you on The National letters’ page and BTL comments. Mass delusion.
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Spot on Peter. There can be no doubt whatever that the journalists at the Daily Nicola, sorry National, are toeing the party line and attempting to feed its readers with uncritical anodyne guff and failing to report what is actually happening in the real independence movement. I still pay to read the Daily Nicola, but only so I can keep count of the number of photos of the dear leader, oh and Mike Russell takes a good photo – did he used to be regarded as a smart politician ?
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(Personal to Peter … belatedly perhaps but the Guest Article you kindly allowed me to make – has now appeared in The National – so I won’t have a word said against them …inserts smiley).
The advantages that we know will accrue to the people of an independent Scotland are what we discuss, and publicise, some may be immediate, many will only be apparent over time.
The disadvantages (far too weak a word) that will accrue to rUK, will be immediate and devastating, and will increase over time.
The sheer ruthlessness of rUK in preventing Scotland ever being independent has always been to be expected. It has been apparent in many ways for years, and will become even more evident in the next short period.
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Reblogged this on Ramblings of a now 60+ Female and commented:
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Very good, Mr Bell. I love the sound of nails being hit squarely on the head.
It’s depressing, but, if we are ever going to regain independence, I believe we need two things; the majority of the Scottish people passionately in favour of dissolving the union and a political leadership who are prepared to risk everything to achieve this end.
In order for the people to be aroused to what must be revolutinary zeal, they will have to be made to suffer like never before. It’s unfortunate, perhaps, but this is the way it has to be. I have a feeling that this winter may be a turning point. I don’t believe that the Tories will do much at all to protect the population from the ruinous energy prices now being inflicted upon us. People will suffer, people will die and children will go hungry. I expect us to be exposed to the hell of rampant Toryism like never before.
We will come to a point, I think, where we need to fight back with passion and conviction or perish.
What will our political leadership do? They will point at Westminster and wail, ‘It’s no’ us it’s them! They did this. We asked them for more power to help but they’ll no’ geez it!’ Or words to that effect.
We don’t have a leadership who will risk everything to get us out of this hell and we have to face that too.
How do we change that state of affairs? I don’t know, but, as you might say, if we’re waiting for Nicola to change her ways or to be replaced, we’d better make a big piece!
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We need an appeal to anger, right enough. But I’m pretty sure there’s already enough to be angry about. What’s missing is the means of harnessing the anger to the fight to restore independence. A charismatic figure, perhaps. Or a party with the right attitude. This is the side of the independence campaign that has always been lacking. In fact, it has been all but totally missing. The campaign strategy has been almost entirely focussed on being FOR independence. The emotional appeal has been positive and aspirational. We need the other side of that coin. A focus on what the campaign is AGAINST ─ with an emotional appeal to anger.
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Brilliant Peter .
As Duncanio says above …..the delusional dimwits must be macro-dosing their chianti with * acid * n I imagine WGD will still be telling his pups ” we’ve got them on the ropes , one more push will see them crumbling in submission ” .
I don’t know which is the most demented ie …. that they know it’s garbage but think it will somehow help to propagate the lie ; or they actually believe it
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“There is just conscienceless brute force behind the blunt instrument of the Union.”
Yes Peter, colonialism is ‘force’, and according to the UN is ‘a scourge’, and colonialism is also referred to as ‘geographic violence’. And worse, the colonial nation always ‘carries the seeds of fascist temptation in its bosom’ (Albert Memmi).
As you say Peter, this and much more should have been readily anticipated by our elected ‘nationalist’ representatives, as the oppressor presses the imperial boot ever more firmly down on the neck of the colonized people.
The SNP elite appear not to have figured this out yet, that self-determination independence is decolonisation, and/or they are deceiving us and have been co-opted by the oppressor, as postcolonial theory suggests. Either way they are unnecessarily delaying and jeopardising our independence and liberation from oppression – for these MPs already three times have held Scotland’s constitutional key to the UK exit door, as handed to them by the sovereign Scottish people. All they need do is turn the bloody key! They only have a short time left to be on the right side of history, for they will rightly be condemned otherwise.
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Its all a ruse Peter, we’re being played yet again, Strickland was also one of the women who appeared in the BBC’s character assassination documentary of Alex Salmond. Truss’s announcement is all about pushing Scottish voters towards Sturgeon and the SNP not away from it.
These are not my words but they are bang on in my opinion.
“When you look at the obstacles to Independence, the “Gold Standard”, the need for 60% support for an extended period, the SNP both votes strategy that elected dozens of Unionists to Holyrood and killed off any chance of a supermajority THAT ALL CAME FROM ONE SOURCE THE SNP LEADER HERSELF”