Don’t mention the process!

I begin to suspect that Gerry Hassan doesn’t want to talk about process because that is the difficult bit. Any fool can talk about policy. We regularly elect scores of such fools. Anyone with a bit of imagination can speak of their ‘vision’ of Scotland with independence restored. But without a process by which independence can be restored and those policies implemented, it’s all just wind and pish.

Not that I have anything against visionary politics or ambitious policies. Far from it. All political and social progress begins with a dream and a refusal to accept that the dream cannot be realised. But without a viable process, dreams and ambitions remain no more than that. For anybody serious about effecting change, process is never secondary. In Scotland’s case, process is particularly problematic, of course, on account of the British state’s determination to ensure that there is no process by which Scotland can escape their ‘precious’ Union. Which may at least partly explain why Gerry Hassan and many others shy away from this aspect of Scotland’s cause.

Which is fine. If they don’t want to talk about and/or are reluctant to even think about the process by which Scotland will be extricated from the accursed Union, others will surely take on that task. What irks is the implied (at least) belittling of those who do apply themselves to the matter of process. Gerry says we are “putting process above the substance of independence”. The trouble is that there is no substance to vision and ambition absent a workable plan by which they can be realised. The things he mentions dismissively at the start of the article – “the “de facto referendum” election of 2024; a specially called Scottish Parliament election in 2023, and the forthcoming SNP conference on tactics in March next year” – are not in fact about process at all. They are devices for avoiding the topic of process or for controlling discussion of process so that it no longer even resembles anything deserving to be called a discussion. Therein lies the great stumbling block for Scotland’s cause. The SNP/Scottish Government is as loath to talk about process as Gerry Hassan.

Before getting to Gerry’s column today, I read with sadness of the death of Derek Bateman. Although I admired and respected and enjoyed his journalism, I cannot claim to have known Derek well. Or at all, really, having met him only briefly on no more than a handful of occasions during the 2014 referendum campaign. My sadness at his passing is more sadness at the passing of that time than of the man himself. On then reading Gerry Hassan’s column, it occurred to me that in large part what makes now different from then is that during the first Yes campaign we were convinced enough that we had a viable process that we felt little or no need to consider it. We all thought we knew how independence would come about. Or we took it for granted that the politicians had that part figured out. We – and I think the generalisation justified – genuinely believed that the road to independence stretched before us if we could but get through the turnstile of the referendum.

We now know that we were wrong. The road was a mirage. The referendum was not a gateway but a diversion. We – some of us – now recognise that there was no process. We now see that had the vote been Yes we would very quickly have learned that this was not the end of the matter. We would have discovered that rather than having made a great leap forward, we were still for all practical purposes no closer to our destination than we had been.

We were naïve. It was foolish to imagine that the British state would have honoured the commitment it appeared to have made in the Edinburgh Agreement. In the event, the No side won. Not content with that victory, the British state felt compelled to spit on the defeated foe with EVEL. There is no reason whatever to suppose that their response to a Yes victory would have been any less contemptuous of Scotland and of democracy. That much is plain to see for those who choose to look.

Nonetheless, that was a hopeful time because we thought we had a process. This is a time of little hope because we know that we do not have a process. Eight years on from the largely untapped well of lessons that the 2014 referendum holds, the SNP/Scottish Government continues to cling to the phantom process that had us all fooled back then. Even worse, they refuse to countenance any discussion of alternatives. The “de facto referendum” election of 2024 and the specially called Scottish Parliament election in 2023 no more connect to the restoration of Scotland’s independence than did the 2014 referendum. The ’emergency’ SNP conference on tactics in March next year is intended as nothing more than an exercise in rubber-stamping of current ‘thinking’ within the SNP leadership circle. No fresh thinking or novel ideas will be permitted within the security perimeter.

Gerry is right. The ’emergency’ conference will be a wee chat about campaign tactics. It will not be a serious discussion of the all important question of how we get from increased public support for Yes to a meaningful democratic event and thence to the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status.. No suggestion will be permitted that our political leaders have got it wrong. The eight years of failure will not be spoken of.

There will be no consideration of process. Gerry should approve.



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17 thoughts on “Don’t mention the process!

  1. Tsk tsk , Mr B , My Little Pony will be cantering into view ere lang to chide you for gloom-propagation & despondency – mongering .

    Nothing as concrete as Process ..eg ..the How , can be allowed to contaminate the ethereal indeterminacy of the When .

    All eyes/Ayes now looking ahead to the * Special * Conference that’s only * Special * because that label has been slapped on it to give the impression something * Special * is to be expected to emerge from it . It won’t . Just more Special Pleading .

    Yet one more time-filling/wasting manoeuvre to give the illusion of urgency , when it’s the * plan * is still to pretend the next UKGE can be * forged * into a Plebiscite on Independence . At least , that will be the idea for the next couple of years , but could easily be amended as the actual date of the UKGE gets closer .

    We can only hope it does get * amended * . Otherwise the whole enterprise could prove disastrous . At * best * , leave us no further forward ; lacking as it does , yip , that’s right …..that ole devil called Process

    Liked by 4 people

    1. “Tsk tsk , Mr B , My Little Pony will be cantering into view ere lang to chide you for gloom-propagation & despondency – mongering”.

      No need Mr Hughes. It’s just the same old story being rehashed for the umpteenth time essentially. It’s only the target Indy commentator that changes.

      The “process” is simple. Have a positive result from a “meaningful democratic event”, as Peter says and as per Scottish Govt policy; then demand the UK Govt negotiate the realisation of the will of the people thus expressed and, if they refuse, declare a “real” UDI.

      That’s it. It’s literally not rocket science.

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        1. The “de facto referendum has been in the media for quite some time now. As has the Scottish Govt’s intention to use a positive result from that to inform what happens next.

          As you have pointed out on numerous occasions, the options are extremely limited. And as the SNP/Scottish Govt’s Supreme Court case and bid to amend the Scotland Act have now proven to the Scottish people (the forgotten element in the malcontent world) beyond any doubt, there is no “legal” route to independence. It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to work out the direction of travel.

          Of course you want the SNP to commit to a particular course of post “de facto referendum” action, and tell all and sundry what it is. But the Scottish Govt does not exist in the bubbles of malcontent echo-chambers. They exist in the real world, and in the real world only idiots inform the opposition of their exact intentions long before they intend to enact them. Especially when events might reveal an opportunity or necessitate a change of plan.

          No one has ever achieved anything by limiting themselves unnecessarily and telling those who would thwart them their entire plan before it is absolutely necessary. It’s one of the first things small children learn about life.

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          1. “the Scottish Govt does not exist in the bubbles of malcontent echo-chambers. They exist in the real world”

            And in ‘the real world’ the Scottish Govt is a subordinate spending department of the British Government whose aim is to prevent independence. Which is why postcolonial theory refers to your level of understanding as ‘rudimentary’.

            Liked by 5 people

            1. “Post Colonial Theory” is not the real world. The clue is in the name. It is only a theory which may or may not apply to a greater or lesser extent in any given situation. The validity of your subjective opinion relies on people accepting your assertion that the Scottish Govt is actively working with the UK Govt to thwart independence. I doubt many would be willing to do so.

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              1. “”Post Colonial Theory” is not the real world”

                Really? Without some theoretical basis we are unlikely to fully understand any phenomenon. Without theory our perception of reality will be restricted and our development of profound insights unlikely. Theory is after all built upon our experience and investigation of ‘the real world’. Where did you think theory came from, thin air?

                “the Scottish Govt is actively working with the UK Govt to thwart independence”

                Yes, absolutely, and very successfully too considering that we have now had six successive Scottish majorities of MSPs/MPs elected in favour of independence yet liberation is still being blocked. The ‘Scottish Govt’ is of course run by British civil service employees and SNP Ministers whose oath of allegiance is to the Crown and a British state.

                If you had studied postcolonial theory you would perhaps understand that a colonial environment is “a Manichaeism world” (Fanon) in which all is not as it seems.

                Liked by 3 people

                1. https://ala-choice.libguides.com/c.php?g=1117036&p=8151904
                  “Postcolonial theory has its critics from within its own ranks whose main criticisms are fourfold. First, the assumption that colonialism is over and a postcolonial world is here does not hold up. Second, postcolonialism’s methodological toolkit is too obsolete to deal with emerging world problems. Third, the field’s selective geographic focus has omitted “problem areas,” such as the Middle East. Fourth, postcolonialism’s stance on anti-colonial movements and a struggle-based model of politics is contrary to revolutionary political practice. For these reasons, many critics, including Watson and Wilder; Lazarus; Loomba, Kaul, Bunzl, Burton, and Esty; and Timothy Brennan, in his texts, “Re-imagining Postcolonial Studies,” “The Illusion of a Future,” and At Home in the World, declared postcolonial theory irrelevant to the contemporary human condition.”

                  When the most blatant “post colonial” screw up of the 20th century, the Middle East, is omitted from “the theory” …. you can see why there is so much criticism of it.

                  As I’ve said, Post Colonial Theory is not reality. It is only a theory. More than this, it is effectively a collection of geographically specific theories (omitting the Middle East), created by many individuals working alone that have been made a subject of study. And, predictably, those studies have engendered a number of critics, which is why many have “declared postcolonial theory irrelevant to the contemporary human condition”.

                  So, basically, I am saying you are not stating “facts”. You are making highly subjective assertions that you hope to legitamise by citing a contentious theory/(theories) that only has a tenuous relevance if we accept your initial assertions. A very handy self-suspending argument for you …. that fails if we disagree with your initial assertions.

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                    1. Perhaps one of the most inane things you have ever said. To quote yourself …. “meaningless words”.

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                  1. Of course there will inevitably be criticism (as well as confirmation) of any theory over time, with new concepts and ideas added, understanding improved and adjustments made as subsequent research is undertaken and findings presented; that does not make theory irrelevant as you appear to imply, it more often strengthens it. What did you think academics are paid to do?

                    You should also consider the period of time when we might say the present layer of colonialism of Scotland began (and following on from much earlier Roman, Norse and also previous English incursions) during the early 18th century (post 1707 ToU) and how this fits with established postcolonial theory vis-a-vis its core concepts which continue today and include: economic exploitation andplunder; external political control; settler occupation and population displacement; cultural assimilation, and; the typical requirement – co-operation of native elite groups, the latter including dominant national party elites, as we see with the behaviour of the SNP.

                    Liked by 1 person

                  2. The source you refer to actually offers in its conclusion on postcolonial theory the following remarks:

                    “…. where its intellectual roots germinated, bolstered especially by such seminal thinkers as Albert Memmi, Frantz Fanon, and Edward Said.
                    https://ala-choice.libguides.com/c.php?g=1117036&p=8151919

                    You might also be interested to learn that postcolonial theory may be ‘applied’, as here in the context of Scotland specifically, including with reference to these very same ‘seminal thinkers’ you yourself cite:
                    https://yoursforscotlandcom.wordpress.com/2021/07/18/determinants-of-independence-colonialism/

                    Liked by 2 people

                    1. “Where did you think theory came from, thin air?” – Yes, that is exactly where every theory comes from. It’s not as if you come across herds of them grazing peacefully on a riverbank. They are the product of the human imagination.
                      “A theory never becomes a fact. It is an explanation of one or more facts. A well-supported evidence-based theory becomes acceptable until disproved. It never evolves to a fact, and that is a fact.” – New Scientist.
                      I refer you back to what I said earlier; “It is only a theory which may or may not apply to a greater or lesser extent in any given situation”. As it happens, I agree with much of what you have to say about the “theory” and it’s application to the Scottish Indy situation. But I’m under no illusion that has more to do with it validating my own internal narrative.

                      I don’t accept everything and that is normal. Such a diverse theory encompassing such a huge set of circumstances cannot apply to every specific situation in exactly the same manner. In the context of this discussion, I do not accept your assertion that the Scottish Govt is working with the UK Govt to thwart independence. That is only your opinion, with no “facts” to back it up. Just a partisan and jaundiced view of the current Govt born of frustration at independence not yet being won. I, on the other hand, understand why it’s not been possible to guarentee victory in any attempt to win it prior to now. Which is why I don’t accept this specific aspect of your interpretation of Post Colonial Theory applies here.

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                    2. Apologies for the lack of paragraphs. I had numbered them but it appears the numbers have vanished resulting in the text compressing ☹.

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                    3. (How it was supposed to look …. hopefully)

                      A. “Where did you think theory came from, thin air?” – Yes, that is exactly where every theory comes from. It’s not as if you come across herds of them grazing peacefully on a riverbank. They are the product of the human imagination.

                      B. “A theory never becomes a fact. It is an explanation of one or more facts. A well-supported evidence-based theory becomes acceptable until disproved. It never evolves to a fact, and that is a fact.” – New Scientist.

                      C. I refer you back to what I said earlier; “It is only a theory which may or may not apply to a greater or lesser extent in any given situation”. As it happens, I agree with much of what you have to say about the “theory” and it’s application to the Scottish Indy situation. But I’m under no illusion that has more to do with it validating my own internal narrative.

                      I don’t accept everything and that is normal. Such a diverse theory encompassing such a huge set of circumstances cannot apply to every specific situation in exactly the same manner. In the context of this discussion, I do not accept your assertion that the Scottish Govt is working with the UK Govt to thwart independence. That is only your opinion, with no “facts” to back it up. Just a partisan and jaundiced view of the current Govt born of frustration at independence not yet being won. I, on the other hand, understand why it’s not been possible to guarentee victory in any attempt to win it prior to now. Which is why I don’t accept this specific aspect of your interpretation of Post Colonial Theory applies here.

                      Like

  2. Derek Bateman RIP, he’s another who will never see the dream of Independence. What was the point in calling for a united front after the supreme court ruling and then waiting until march 2023 to make any decision when the decision that the yes movement wants is a Holyrood election brought forward has already been ruled out? Is it another failure or just debilitate, for me its been debilitate since Sturgeon took over and I feel sure when she made her decision and that decision will be hers alone it fail like every other endeavour she done since being FM.

    Liked by 4 people

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