The bright, sharp point!

It seems there was a lot of solid good sense being talked at this Yes Falkirk event. Especially about getting away from the endless, pointless, corrosive disputes around policy and the necessarily futile search for answers to unanswerable questions. Only by focusing exclusively and intently on the core issue – restoring Scotland’s independence – will it be possible to have anything remotely like a coherent campaign.

The problem with the Yes movement at the moment is that everybody wants unity, but nobody is prepared to make the concessions and accommodations that are a prerequisite for unity. Everybody wants unity, but only on their terms.

Perhaps we should stop talking about unity altogether. Maybe we should instead be thinking and speaking in terms of solidarity. The term ‘unity’ implies a completeness of bonding which is quite evidently impossible to attain given the diversity of agendas within the independence movement. ‘The term ‘solidarity’, on the other hand, is defined as a “union of interests, purposes or sympathies among members of a group”. Solidarity can be achieved more readily than unity because it is about how we behave rather than what we believe. We can all have different views on this and that but still act with solidarity on a particular issue – so long as that issue is closely enough defined so as not to impinge discomfortingly on strongly held views.

Which is precisely why I have spent the last eight years urging that we reframe the entire constitutional issue as a fight against the Union rather than (or as well as) a fight for independence.

Grant Thoms appears to suppose that this reframing has been done. He says,

In 2014, it was the responsibility of the Yes campaign to give the case for independence. This time, it will be the responsibility for the No campaign to give the case for the Union. There will be a different focus this time.

Unity is a must to help build a new nation, Yes group says

If only this were so! But there has been no discernible effort by the SNP or its affiliates within the Yes movement to alter the focus. To the contrary, Nicola Sturgeon has shown every indication of being intent on replicating the 2014 referendum as closely as possible. Including the same obsessively ‘positive’ campaign. While it is true that we have lately heard senior figures in the party make the occasional comment directly attacking the Union, this does not betoken the kind of comprehensive reframing that is required.

Grant Thoms is wrong. There will not be a different focus this time. There cannot be. Not to anything like the extent that is needed. There can be no shift of focus because the entire matter is defined by the question being put to a vote. And the SNP/Scottish Government has decided that the question on the ballot paper should remain the same as in the 2014 referendum. That question – ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ – makes independence the contentious choice and by unavoidable implication makes the Union the default or settled option. Thus, the anti-independence side is given a huge advantage.

This advantage need not have been purposefully contrived. It may simply be that we have been inculcated with the idea of ‘British’ as the standard against which all things must be assessed to the extent that it takes a real effort of will to think differently. Obviously, nobody in the upper echelons of the SNP was able or willing to make that effort. Which is tragic.

It may not be too late. It may yet be possible to construct an alternative campaign organisation to run alongside the ‘official’, SNP-devised campaign. It may yet be possible to formulate the negative campaign against the Union that is required in order to secure the votes we need. Two things would be needed. Firstly, we would have to acknowledge that Grant Thoms is wrong. We would have to recognise that the issue has not been reframed in the manner or to the extent that is necessary. This means that people might have to allow that Nicola Sturgeon has got it wrong. Which will be very difficult for some. Far more difficult than it ought to be.

Secondly, we need solidarity. We need the unity of purpose that can only exist when there is a bright, sharp point around which the Yes movement can coalesce. That point is stated very simply as #DissolveTheUnion. That is our common cause.

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15 thoughts on “The bright, sharp point!

  1. What we need is for the indy masses to wake up and realise that the SNP isn’t a party for Scottish independence anymore whilst Sturgeon is at its helm.

    Talking strategies and tactics on how we can dissolve the union when weapon of choice to dissolve the union (the SNP) isn’t even loaded is not going to get us very far.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Pointless comment and one made out of either ignorance or a desire to obstruct the drive for Scottish independence.


      1. It’s not a comment I can entirely agree with. But there is far too much truth in it for the comfort of anyone genuinely concern about restoring Scotland’s independence.

        We all know that, as the party of government, the SNP is the only party that really matters in terms of Scotland’s cause. But not all of us have the same unquestioning faith in Nicola Sturgeon. Some of us take the view that no politician or party should be exempt from scrutiny. This goes double for the SNP BECAUSE it is the only party that matters ─ and because no issue is more important or urgent than the constitutional situation. No more than normal scrutiny, combined with an ability to cut through the hype, is required to see that Scotland’s cause has made precisely zero progress in the past eight years.

        You will protest. What you will not do is point to anything that would count as progress if subjected to normal scrutiny.

        If all you can do in response to criticism of this lack of progress is accuse people of trying to “obstruct the drive for Scottish independence” then you are part of the problem. It is precisely that complacency and shallow thinking that has allowed the SNP to dither and delay.

        You will protest. What you will not do is provide any explanation for the delay which doesn’t, under normal scrutiny, turn out the be less explanation and more rationalisation.

        If you want to silence those who point out the lack of progress and the continuing lack of any plan by which independence will be restored then all you have to do is set out for us in as non-infantile fashion as you can manage, the process by which we get from where we are to the destination that is supposedly your aim as much as mine.

        You will protest. You will not explain.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Iain.

        Ignorance you say, what exactly do you thinks been going on since Sturgeon rolled into Bute House, at a time when we had on some occasions 100,000 folk attend indy marches.

        Here ‘s a clue start with Manny Singh, then Craig Murray, Mark Hirst, David Llewellyn, Alex Salmond, Martin Keating all indy supporters, and all have come into the crosshairs of Sturgeon.

        Now ask yourself where the obstruction comes from.

        Liked by 5 people

        1. Yes RoS, what is happening in Scotland clearly fits the well-worn postcolonial theory template only too well. It involves collusion of a dominant national party with the occupying power, and where the native elites/establishment continue to protect their privileges as well as the interests of the oppressor; here we should remember that colonialism is always a co-operative venture.

          The same despicable process in which a dominant national party joins with the oppressor power to attack so-called independence ‘radicals’ has been played out in a hundred former colonies.

          Hence what we see reflects pretty much what Frantz Fanon wrote, that: “inside the nationalist parties, the will to break colonialism is linked with another quite different will: that of coming to a friendly agreement with it.”

          This I believe is the “explanation for the delay” Peter refers to and many others are still searching for.

          Liked by 2 people

            1. Yes, deadlock must be broken as time is indeed running out: the nation under colonialism is always in the process of perishing. It is a situation in which, as Albert Memmi described it: “The mere existence of the colonizer creates oppression, and only the complete liquidation of colonization permits the colonized to be freed.”

              This requires courageous people, less so deceitfu an daeless petrified politicians. It now appears to be the role of Salvo, SSRG and possible formation of a Scottish National Congress, as well as a cluster of pro-independence bloggers, the latter equivalent to revolutionaries handing out leaflets on street corners, as state police watch from dark alleys nearby.

              Maist o oor politeecians are aye awfu eathily bocht an selt, as are they select groups they finance, and the bourgeois elites aye reach for a compromise with the colonizer, which as we see can easily delay and even prevent independence. Moreover, any such compromise will inevitably fall well short of independence and never “permits the colonized to be freed”.

              Breaking the deadlock also requires a people to more fully understand their oppression; until now the peoples understanding of the urgent need and rationale for independence remains rudimentary, which is intentional:


              On perhaps a more hopeful note, Memmi also tells us that: “A day necessarily comes when the colonized lifts his head and topples the always unstable equilibrium of colonization. For the colonized just as for the colonizer, there is no way out other than a complete end to colonization.”

              Liked by 1 person

  2. An excellent upbeat article. Nice to see you a bit cheery for a change Peter. We do need some unity but it doesn’t have to be very deep to be effective. History demonstrates that wide alliances can often be successful usually if its for a fixed term with a simple, higher goal (independence!). In a way a wide disparate movement is both a blessing and a curse. It’s all down to how it is managed by the different leaders (allies) and spokespeople.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Reframing the question is necessary. But the answer to the more appropriate question “Should Scotland dissolve the Treaty of Union ?” is still “YES”

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Clean and succinct. No more hand-wringing about what path to take to get to that fabled independence or whether the rest of the world will be mad at us and refuse to buy whisky ever again. It’s also the “gold standard” to determine just how badly we want it – enough to defend it against a “robust response”? Since the populace will be taking to the streets over government policy in any case why not go the whole distance?

      Liked by 3 people

  4. When you refer to the union, I presume that’s the 1707 union between Scotland and England/Wales. What about Northern Ireland? Is that too modern? Gt Britain hasn’t existed as an official country since about 1820.

    You seem to be a bit obsessed about tearing up an early 18th C document that has been superceeded twice. I can’t see how that would lead to Scottish independence, because it would be irelevant.

    It would be like the Brexit referendum being about leaving the EEC.


    1. MrE(d?) – some homework required – the T of U is an international treaty between Scotland and England. It has not been superseded. It has no relevance to NI which could continue as part of a union with England & Wales post the dissolution of the T of U of 1707.

      Liked by 4 people

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