The anticipated anti-climax

To give credit where is is due, The National does seem to have developed a knack for producing headlines which give me a wee adrenaline hit. Most commonly, it must be said, this momentary surge of agitation is occasioned by some grievous abuse of language. But every once in a while there is a headline which allows me to briefly suppose that something promising might be occurring on the constitutional front. Take the following, for example ─

Lawyers hired by Alba to probe alternatives to SNP’s de facto indyref

Just don’t take it too seriously.

My first thought on reading this headline was that Alba Party had hired lawyers to probe alternatives to the SNP’s de facto referendum plan-like thing. On reading the article, however, I quickly realised that I had been uncharacteristically naive. I had momentarily forgotten my own oft-repeated admonition that the headline does not tell you what the story is about. It tells you what the author wants you to think it’s about.

I have, in any case, two reasons for being dubious about the story ─ one good and one less so. The good one is that I simply can’t believe Alba has the resources to hire a wee army of lawyers each charging the sort of money that you would expect to pay for a place on the British honours list, or a lucrative contract to supply the British government with shoddy goods at massively inflated prices while you pocket the difference ─ plus expenses. Not that I discount the possibility of Alba having a respectable war-chest and a decent income. But even if this puts them among the privileged who can afford access to the British justice system, one would expect that all the party’s resources would be earmarked for an election which could be called by the British Prime Minister (still Rishi Sunak?) at any time.

My less good reason for having reservations about the story relates to the quality of the source. Admittedly, there’s not much to go on. But I nonetheless have a strong intuition that the anonymous source’s account has more of bar-room braggadocio about it than the ring of truth. I may be doing Hamish Morrison’s mole a great disservice here. But when such sources provide no credentials, we must work with whatever we have as we assess the worth of their account.

But none of this is the real reason for me being so disappointed after such a promising headline. My natural scepticism (some would say cynicism) having reasserted itself after that brief lapse, I could not be greatly surprised that the story failed to do justice to the headline, Or vice versa. The main reason I was disappointed was that I had a fleeting vision of Alba becoming what I had hoped it would be. Namely, a party with a truly radical approach to the constitutional issue that would contrast starkly with the lacklustre, lackadaisical, lickspittle approach adopted by the SNP. Alas, the fleeting vision lived up to its name and ran before onrushing reality.

The headline had served to rekindle in me the hope that Alba would strive to better distance itself from the SNP. It can’t be an alternative if it is indistinguishable. And on the constitutional issue there seems to be very little separating the parties. There’s certainly no danger of the metaphorical cigarette paper accidentally slipping between the two. Both talk the talk of popular sovereignty and an inalienable right of self-determination while walking the walk of a regional political elite intensely conscious of its subordinacy and anxious not to be seen to be questioning the supremacy of the British state.

Those who have rid themselves of a colonial mindset see a jarring, grating, nerve-jangling contradiction in asserting the sovereignty of Scotland’s people whilst making any use of that sovereignty contingent on the consent or approval of some agency other than the people of Scotland. Both these things can’t be true. We cannot be both a sovereign people and unable to act as such absent the nod from a British court or the permission of a British government. We cannot both have the right of self-determination and be unable to exercise that right without the blessing of those with no right to be included in the ‘self’ part of that term.

According to that anonymous source, Alba’s view is that Scotland should not “just accept” the ruling of the UK Supreme Court on the referred draft Referendum Bill. But evidently, they want to argue the case again in that or some other court. Taking this legalistic approach necessarily implies that the court is superior to the supposedly sovereign people of Scotland. Again! Both these things cannot be true. It is a mad oxymoron to declare that the people of Scotland are both sovereign and subordinate. It is an insult to logic to say that we have the right of self-determination but lack the right to exercise it. It is a political nonsense to say that we, the people, have the ultimate power to decide but are debarred from making a decision about the constitutional status of our nation. We have the ultimate decision-making power, but may not decide who decides.

When I saw that headline, I thought perhaps Alba had at last broken free of the colonialised mindset which besets so much of Scotland’s political establishment. What a let-down it turned out to be.

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19 thoughts on “The anticipated anti-climax

  1. “The main reason I was disappointed was that I had a fleeting vision of Alba becoming what I had hoped it would be. Namely, a party with a truly radical approach to the constitutional issue that would contrast starkly with the lacklustre, lackadaisical, lickspittle approach adopted by the SNP”

    Good article Peter, and yes you’re right to not get your hopes up, Alba are, and would in my opinion be better in government than the SNP, how could they not be, now we know what we know about the SNP.

    However I see no one within their ranks that has the grit and tenacity to do what is required to get us out of this prison of a union.

    As for Sturgeon’s fanzine, that’s what it does, it give out feel good headlines on independence, a false sense of hope if you like, it’s long given up on reporting what needs to be reported on.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. O/T Peter.

    But worth a read.


        1. Of course. I’m not saying there’s no truth in there. Only that it gives the impression of a disgruntled employee having a wee lash-out via Twitter. I’m not sure how this is relevant. Unless you suppose there to be a need to persuade me that the current leadership of the SNP is quite deplorable. I gave up trying to deny that a couple of years ago.


          1. “Only that it gives the impression of a disgruntled employee having a wee lash-out via Twitter”

            Another Peter, and that’s what I’m aiming at, is that behind the scenes the 2014 indyref was set up to fail, yes we can say its all just conjecture, but looking at Sturgeon’s form on independence since becoming FM, I for one won’t rule out the set up to fail in 2014 indyref idea as unlikely.


      1. Also Peter when you start assemble the pieces, it appears that our 2014 indyref was set up to fail, Salmond left Sturgeon and Murrell in charge of the process.


        1. I’m very dubious about that. Although I will concede that there were mistakes made, it’s difficult to condemn those in charge. This was all new to everybody.

          What I detest and condemn in the strongest terms is the failure to learn the lessons of the 2014 referendum. That, in my view, is unforgivable.


          1. “I’m very dubious about that”

            In what form has your dubiety arisen, can we say that Sturgeon and Murrell in charge of legislative process in 2014, have moved the indy caused forward or that we are any closer to leaving this union because of their actions since Sturgeon became FM.

            Looking at the machinations of the Murrells since gaining complete control of the party and how easily they’ve condemned and praised with the the help of the COPFS, the resulting years after 2014 in my opinion and it appears in some quarters of others as well, that there’s a real possibility that control of the party (maybe Salmond had told Sturgeon if no won that he’d stand down and recommend her as FM) was the goal for the Murrells and not Scottish independence.


            1. You seem to be implying that the Murrells sabotaged the Yes campaign without Salmond noticing. Or anyone else, for that matter. This seems almost as unlikely as the conspiracy theory about the count being rigged.


  3. Sounds more like ALBA has opened a door into the National and will feed minor (non) stories to keep that door open. I’ve noticed also that the Nicola-pic count has reduced slightly in the last week.


  4. Dear, Peter A Bell, I’m one of your regular followers and while confessing this, I’m happy that I can do this in a polite and courteous manner here north of a certain border, at least.    Otherwise, I love your admonition:  ‘that the headline does not tell you what the story is about. It tells you what the author wants you to think it’s about’. This appeals to both amateur authors and hobby writers like myself; and some years ago, when I followed certain Art-related websites, a viewer advised me to copyright my pieces, like this  © Ewen A Morrison. That occasion was many years ago, yet I still use © whenever posting on similar sites nowadays. 

    Your ‘anonymous sources and braggadocio’ does apply to most British Nationalism, but London-centric mentalities cannot tolerate this line of thought from Scotland’s people… Proving that their propaganda is really failing for them. That, combined with an Alba Party contrasting starkly with the lacklustre, lickspittle approach adopted by the so-called SNP; gives our population more optimism than certain English groups can tolerate. Furthermore, It’s incredible that England’s population cannot see how much the Westminster government is failing everyone in their precious ‘UK’. Sooner or later, everyone in England and Scotland will acknowledge what many of our European friends already recognise…

    An internationally important situation that will change many situations here and elsewhere. After all, it has taken over three hundred years to be able to end this unsatisfactory union of nations and areas; and of course, while our futures are bound to be different, our futures will be determined by what each population finds most appropriate.



  5. “the colonialised mindset which besets so much of Scotland’s political establishment”

    In an effort to obscure and diminish its deep and damaging psychological effects we even gave it another name – the ‘Scottish cultural cringe’. But what is well-established about the ‘colonial mindset’ helps explain why many Scots still vote against their own national liberation, as well as the rather tepid efforts of a compromised national party elite and bourgeoisie.

    Being a ‘psychological condition’ there are various symptoms, not least self-hatred of one’s own ethnic group combined with a strong respect for and desire to become just like that very impressive model – i.e. the colonizer – all helped along through the process of cultural (or colonial) assimilation.

    The cure? Liberation of course, together with the removal of an exploitative oppressor and his culture, which requires the ‘self-recovery’ of a subordinated people and particularly thair ain naitural cultur an langage.

    To better understand what independence means our erstwhile nationalist leaders really do need to first undertake ‘a reasoned analysis of colonialism’, something which they have clearly yet to do.

    Click to access The-Socio-Political-Determinants-of-Scottish-Independence.pdf

    Liked by 7 people

  6. I will just leave this here, if I may.

    “LIGHTS ON: Scotland’s Place in Europe”
    Time For Scotland

    #TimeForScotland presents LIGHTS ON…Scotland’s Place in Europe…It’s Up to Us…a rally on 31/1/23 at Holyrood. On the 3rd anniversary of Scotland’s forced withdrawal from the EU…come for a night of music & speakers.

    To register and get further details

    I assume more publicity will follow soon.
    Lesley Riddoch did say there will be a two page pullout in The National on the day before.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This is based on the assumption that The National has Alba’s best interests at heart and there’s no way they would be hyping them up to pull the rug out from their feet at a later date. It’s beyond comprehension that any UK newspaper would do such a thing.

    Liked by 2 people

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