Tricks of the trade

Mr Russell is a very experienced politician. It is no surprise, therefore, that he manages to deploy two devious politicians’ tricks in the first two paragraphs of his column in The National. First, the smear. He presents his critics as uncouth and abusive. Never mind the message, throw faeces at the messenger knowing some of it will stick.

Having conveyed that his critics are lesser persons than himself and therefore unworthy of being attended to, Michael Russell pulls another of those wee politicians’ ploys when he misrepresents the criticism. This is akin to the trick of denying something that has not been alleged. If you’re accused of something and are reluctant to outright deny it – mainly because it’s true and lies bite bums – the trick is to vehemently deny something that you haven’t been accused of in such a way as to make it seem like you’re denying the thing you have been accused of except when you’re later accused of denying the thing you’re accused of you can deny the denial. Devious? All in a day’s deviousness for the experienced politician.

If anybody has ever accused Michael Russell of failing in his “supposed duty to provide for them every week a detailed and infallible route map for Scotland’s journey from dependence to independence”, I have yet to see it. It certainly doesn’t describe the largest part of the criticism sent his way via The National’s comment facility, which is not that he hasn’t done the exaggeratedly specific thing he denies, but that the party for which he speaks has done nothing to progress Scotland’s cause in eight years. Nobody, it’s safe to say, expects a weekly “detailed and infallible route map for Scotland’s journey from dependence to independence”. Many of us expect that there should at least be some kind of “route map” and that the ‘party of independence’ should show some inclination to make a start on the journey.

The criticism Michael Russell sidesteps is that not only has the SNP/Scottish Government failed to move Scotland so much as one day closer to independence in eight years, but that it has been so lackadaisical on the constitutional issue that we are now further from independence than we were a decade ago. The criticism Michael Russell refuses to address is that even now the SNP has no plan at all, never mind the kind of “route map” to which he refers.

The inexplicably stupid referral of the draft Referendum Bill to the UK Supreme Court and the less than half-baked notion of a ‘de facto‘ referendum have all the hallmarks of something cobbled together in a panic. This comes on top of a catalogue of missed opportunities starting with the abject failure to capitalise on the momentum Scotland’s cause had in the wake of the 2014 referendum. Then there was the abject failure to exploit the Brexit referendum – especially after all the bloviation about not allowing Scotland to be dragged… blah! blah! Blackford!

Then there was the insanity of suspending the entire independence campaign instead of taking advantage of lockdown to reach a ‘captive’ online audience much of which was previously unreached. The criticism is not that the SNP has failed in its effort to progress Scotland’s cause, but that there has been no such effort. Betimes it has seemed that the SNP/Scottish Government was actively striving to avoid opportunities to act. That continues to be the impression given. The ’emergency’ conference looks like yet another time-wasting device thought up on the spur of the moment.

Mr Russell tells us that “a plebiscite election is the only alternative” to the Section 30 referendum which remains the SNP’s preferred process despite all the criticism that they have effortlessly ignored of the past eight years. It isn’t the only option. It isn’t an option at all. Not if the aim is to actually move towards independence. Even if using a UK general election as a ‘de facto‘ Scottish referendum wasn’t a case of taking a stupid idea and wrapping it in stupid, the fact that the only point of the exercise is to return to where we are now makes it more stupid still. We know, because, the SNP/Scottish Government has told us, that the proposed referendum will have absolutely no effect. It will achieve nothing even in the unlikely event of a substantial win for the pro-independence side. We just go back to pleading for permission from the British Prime Minister. The ‘plan’ is no more than a bucket full of wishful thinking about pricking a democratic conscience that the British state simply does not possess.

This is a sample of the actual criticism directed your way, Mr Russell. If you ever decide to stop evading the issues raised and concerns expressed, I’m always available and ready to listen. Just don’t imagine I can be fobbed off with some of those devious politicians’ tricks.

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18 thoughts on “Tricks of the trade

  1. The key word in your piece is ‘stupid’. The SNP is led by someone who isn’t very smart, and who is surrounded by groupthinking acolytes. This guarantees poor, disastrous decision-making. It explains why every policy of Sturgeon’s has been a failure, and why Scotland has gone from working very nicely indeed under Salmond to everything being an utter mess now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really isn’t the case that “every policy of Sturgeon’s has been a failure”. Scottish Child Payment, for example, has been a great success. Extending free bus travel. The Adult Disability Payment. There are many positives. There is a strong case against Sturgeon’s failures in relation to the constitutional issue. It doesn’t help that case to overstate the negatives.


  2. It’s articles like Mike Russell’s latest effort in The National that combine snark and snide with evasion and deceit that simply serve to make all those that support The Cause redouble their efforts to expose the strategic vacuum at the heart of the current the current SNP leadership.

    My New Year’s resolution is an easy one to make … as it will be to keep.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. ” Even if using a UK general election as a ‘de facto‘ Scottish referendum wasn’t a case of taking a stupid idea and wrapping it in stupid, ………” Lol

    Then putting the stupid idea in a box made entirely of stupid , putting a stupid stamp on it and addressing it to Mr & Mrs Stupid . 2024 Stupid Street . Stupidville .

    Horsebox Mike could deliver it , he’s not going to be delivering anything else .

    I note on yr sidebar the reference in the National that NS gave a ” veiled hint ” of something ( ? ) about ” moving towards ” Independence – amidst the surely by now tediously farcical welter of * pledges * – she should really try other brands . that one has lost it’s efficacy long since .

    So , that’s it guys , a veiled hint ( why the secrecy , is she still trying to kid us on there’s a super-cunning plan waiting to be sprung into action ? ) is what we’re getting from the * de facto * ersatz , kiddy-onny ( P ) leader of the In Dependence Static Movement . Wonderful . Metaphorically – go back to your constituencies and prepare for …………………………………..a good night’s sleep . ZZZZZZzzzzzzz

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’m not sure how anything that addresses child poverty can be deemed a failure. I believe in giving credit where it is due. Apart from anything else, it adds to the credibility of deserved criticism.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. The view from a malcontent vacuum. The echo-chambers speak …. to themselves. Meanwhile, in the real world where people live, things progress.


    1. ” Meanwhile, in the real world where people live”

      Rael warld whar fowk bide? Whaur’s thon the day in Scotlan?

      Scotlan’s aye yet rin bi a mankit unionist slump nae maitter wha hunkers doon in Holyrood, wi maist o oor ain fowk dozin awa whill thair cultur an thair kintra gaes tae pigs an whustles. Thon FM cheatrie an her jubish gang o pyit pipers are nae doot anely leiden fowk alang anither blindt allay.

      An whaur’s oor Scots Langage Ack an aw, no that ye nor thon daeless SNP heid bummers wad ken hits oor ain naitional langage whit gies a fowk thair naitional identitie unalike ony ither – an thair naitional waukenin tae. (Peoples in self-determination conflict are always linguistically divided).

      Naw, ‘in the real world’ thon SNP’s nae ony naitional pairty onymair.


      1. Wi kin aw spik Scots Alf. It disnae mak ye oanythin’ speicial. Ahm as awaur o’ the cultural argiment as th’ neist ane. Ye dinnae hae a monopoly oan it.

        It’s queer ye wid chuise sic an argiment oan sic a thread as this ane. It’s uisse is as guid an exemple o’ th’ ‘hings Peter is girnin’ aboot. Hee-haw tae dae wi’ whit its aboot, bu’ a bonnie distraction.

        Oanywy’, even an independent Scotlan’ wid b’ “linguistically divided”. Atween sindry Scots deealects, Doric an’ Gaelic. Or wid ye hae a “language police” tae mak siccar a’body spiks th’ wey ye ‘hink thay shoud?


        1. The point here (which you again appear intent on missing!) is surely that a people who are intentionally deprived of learning or respecting their mother language will inevitably diminish or even lose their national identity, which is what the extensive literature on Cultural and Linguistic Imperialism and Colonialism tells us is precisely what happens.

          Why do you think so many Scots consider themselves to be primarily ‘British’, as did formerly many colonised Indians, Kenyans, Irish etc? And would so many ‘No’ voting Scots still consider themselves to be primarily British (and thus ‘Scottish’ secondary, if at all) if they were taucht thair ain braw Scots mither tongue in schuil?

          As for ‘language police’, are you really unaware that Scots bairns have been subjected to linguistic imperialism/language deprivation policies for well over a century (ScotGov/’Scotch’ Office Edu Dept, EIS rules etc) and in respect of compulsory ‘English Studies’ garred doon thair thrapples?


          1. I fully get your point Alf, I just don’t see its relevance to Peter’s article. It is, as they say, completely out of left field. It could be argued there is a certain relevance in that Peter bemoans the tactic of bringing in an irrelevant argument to distract from the weakness of the main one, and your’s does that nicely.

            But to address your point anyway, it is difficult to teach “thair ain braw Scots mither tongue in schuil” when there is no standardised Scots language. 19th century England had loads of local dialects to the extent many parts of the country could barely understand others. The imposition of the “Queen’s English” in schools (along with other social changes such as the rise of the railways) led to the current standardised (though remarkably flexible) language. Before we can do that in Scotland, someone will have to standardise Scots. Perhaps that’s a job for you. But be prepared for a barrage of abuse as the proponents of each dialect be they speakers of the various Scots dialects, Doric dialects or, indeed, Lallans. There may be a lot of resistance to the imposition of the “Alf’s Scots”.

            Having said that, I would welcome a standardised version of Scots that could be taught in schools, and that would allow the “donor” dialects to exist in parallel.


            1. “there is no standardised Scots language”


              Whit mair dae fowk want?

              You again miss the point about language giving a people their identity. If you teach a people only English then don’t be surprised if they eventually think of themselves as English/British. And if you deprive a people of their language don’t be surprised when they lose/discard their national identity.

              In addition there are many social, economic, inequality/discrimination, health and psychological impacts from a cultural assimilation process, but clearly in your ‘real world’ these are not significant.


              1. You’re just making up your own arguments now. I have not disputed any of your points. I have only called into question their relevance to Peter’s article and pointed out the practical problems associated with them.

                You appear to be stuck in an ivory tower, dreaming up issues you want addressed, but oblivious to the practicalities.

                And a dictionary is not a language, it is a list of past and present words and their currently accepted meanings. Many of the words in a Scots dictionary (I own two) would become part of a standardised Scots language, many would not. Choices would have to made as to what word from what “language” became the standard, and what would be discarded as therefore being redundant. That is likely to be a contentious exercise.


                1. Of course teaching a ‘rusted’ native language in a colonial situation would be “a contentious exercise”, which is why the marginalised language is never taught. Nevertheless, postcolonial theory is clear on this:

                  “the two worlds symbolized and conveyed by the two tongues are in conflict; they are those of the colonizer and colonized. And the most urgent claim of a group about to revive is certainly the liberation and restoration of its language; the following generations, born in liberty, will write spontaneously in their newly found language” (Albert Memmi)


                  1. I had a feeling Post Colonial Theory and old Memmi would be involved somewhere.

                    And, as I said before, you are just making up your own arguments now. I’ll leave you to it.


  5. “Just don’t imagine I can be fobbed off with some of those devious politicians’ tricks”.

    Like he could do that to such a seasoned practitioner of those “tricks” as yourself. Pots and kettles cone to mind.


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