The repair job

Just for the record I have spoken to Nicola Sturgeon only three times in the last 20 years, have received no payment for “services rendered” yet stubbornly stand by the fact that she is a brilliant communicator who has been much less successful with strategy – on independence, land reform, centralisation, involving members via party conference or even her own MSPs in important policy decisions, let alone connecting with the wider Yes movement.

SNP leader will face delicate balancing act to repair Yes movement

That paragraph from Lesley Riddoch’s column in The National could be Nicola Sturgeon’s political epitaph. She was a superb communicator. But in all other regards, particularly the ones that matter most to independence activists, she was “much less successful” ─ a euphemism for abject failure. I’m certain that were they her only choices, Ms Sturgeon would opt for Lesley’s verdict over that returned by Iain Macwhirter. The ‘equivalent’ section of his column in The Spectator (£) is possibly the gentlest part of an assessment which otherwise tests the descriptive capacity of the word ‘scathing’.

Most commentators, myself included, had considerable respect for Nicola Sturgeon as a politician. Even those who objected to her politics admitted that she was good at her job: hard working, dedicated, intelligent, responsible. Not anymore.

What did she have against the SNP to treat them this way? What did they do to her – other than shower her with praise and try to make sense of her increasingly erratic and headstrong behaviour? Who does she think she is?

Nicola Sturgeon has destroyed her own reputation

Interestingly, both of these respected political commentators mention an extraordinary Scottish Parliament election as a possibly necessary part of the job of repairing the mess that Nicola Sturgeon has left. I would not presume to contradict them on this. But the first step in any effort to fix things has to be getting the Sturgeon/SNP loyalists to admit that things are broken. Organising a ‘snap’ election could be child’s play by comparison. The denial there has a monumental grandeur that fair takes your breath away. This isn’t some wee hump to be surmounted or smoothed. It is a mountainous obstacle rearing before any attempt to mend the damage that has been done to the party, the independence movement and the country.

There is no moving on. The manner of Sturgeon’s departure, the shambolic and patently corrupt process of finding her successor and the legacy of error and failure she leaves behind, all conspire to put us in a place from which simply moving on is not an option. We need to find that reset button. We need to find the person who is willing to press that reset button. And we need to define what happens when the reset button is pressed.

The most immediate effect of hitting reset has to be a fresh start for the process of electing a new leader for the SNP and thereby First Minister. The process as it stands cannot possibly do other than obliterate the credibility of the new appointee to either role. The result ─ regardless of who wins ─ can only be a lame party leader, a lame Scottish Government and a lame First Minister of Scotland. If the candidates have any regard for this country then they should all withdraw.

Ending the farcical leadership election should have been the first order of business for the SNP President and acting CEO, Michael Russell. Regrettably, this once highly respected individual has succumbed to the same pathological denial as the party loyalists mentioned above. Or he has succumbed to pressure from shadowy vested interests. Either way, he has declined to do the honourable thing with regard to the election and so must do the honourable thing in respect of his position.

Other things must follow from the appointment of a new acting CEO and a fresh start to the leadership election for there to be a true reset from which to proceed. The NEC has to take a leading role and be seen to act for the membership and not the leadership clique. There will have to be a special party conference at which the party’s democratic structures and process are restored. Then there must be an election. Whether that election can be a de facto referendum in the circumstances is questionable. If it is then it must be on the basis of an unequivocal #ManifestoForIndependence.

This is what I mean by a reset. Others may have suggestions as to what is required. But we must be wary of any half measures. Half a reset would certainly be as bad as none and possibly worse.

What can we do as individuals? Ideally, we could all acknowledge that the reset is necessary and do so so without recrimination. It is enough to say that the slate must be wiped as clean as possible. To start recounting the reasons why this is necessary is to defeat to purpose. Every count of blame is a scribbling on the slate we are supposed to be erasing. Denial of the need for a reset simply hinders the process. Even if you are convinced that Nicola Sturgeon has done nothing wrong and that everything is just tickety-boo with the party and the movement, you have to recognise that there is no status quo ante to which we might return. Nicola Sturgeon is not going to withdraw her resignation and it wouldn’t help if she did. There is no way back so turn around and face forward.

There is a massive repair job to be done. The task is daunting, but doable. Three people hold the key that unlocks the toolbox so the repair process can begin. Only the candidates can now stop the election ─ preferably acting in unison. Failing that, the NEC must intervene. But it would be far better if the candidates could be seen to be acting with integrity. We desperately need that kind of leadership.

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17 thoughts on “The repair job

  1. I agree with all your sentiments.

    Root and branch reform of procedures and structures to ensure transparency, scrutiny and democracy.

    Checks and balances to prevent leadership cliques and cults emerging.

    A clear and unequivocal restatement of commitment to the Independence of Scotland and the democratic means to achieve this which necessarily excludes the involvement, interference and influence of the British over that process.

    I hope I am wrong but I very much fear, however, that your wish for all candidates to withdraw from the leadership campaign will not happen.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. You are putting a lot of hope on the SNP NEC that has fully participated in creating and perpetrating the mess you think they might put right all of a sudden.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. There certainly does need to be a reset. But I think that the only people who can do this are ordinary members of the party or even ordinary members of the public given that the next SNP leader is likely to be elected FM. None of the candidates can halt the election at this point, two of them because they think they are winning, the other because they would be seen to be taking partisan action to improve their chances of success. The interim CEO is clearly not going to do it because he doesn’t want a reset – though he knows one is needed now, and has been needed for some time. No elected “parcel of rogues 2023” member will do it because, well, because, money. So which current party members or members of the public are willing to take out an injunction aimed at halting the election, so that the reset can be a proper reset ?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That would be an interdict, Geoff. But you make fair points. I’m not saying this or that will happen. Or even that it is possible. Only what I see as necessary for a full reset. An interdict as you describe would do the job. But without the benefit of the candidates being seen to act with integrity. I think that is very important just now.

      I am thinking in terms of an ideal approach. In doing so, I am fully aware of the difficulty of achieving an ideal. But I maintain that this should always be our starting point. I also have serious doubts as to whether anything short of this ideal can be effective.

      On the NEC, bear in mind that the controlling clique is losing its sponsor. Sturgeon was, in many ways, the source of their power and influence. With her gone, their positions are uncertain. They will be looking to gain some credibility.

      Should Ash go it alone in withdrawing? You’re certainly correct that this could earn her pelters from certain quarters. But those quarters are busy pelting her anyway. So, she wouldn’t seem to have too much to lose. It is highly unlikely that she is going to win the leadership election. You can understand why she wouldn’t want to. Her thinking at the moment should be about where she lands when the election is over and she is an also-ran. As I have mentioned before, she can still establish herself as the hero ─ even de facto leader ─ of the Yes movement. That could be the second most powerful position in Scottish politics.

      Liked by 6 people

    2. The candidates fell at the first hurdle. They should have insisted on following the convention of selecting a new leader as per the written constitution of the SNP.

      If Sturgeon was in such a hurry tae shoot the craw, Swinney in his capacity as deputy leader should have taken over the reins in the interim. The responsibility for halting this corrupt process lies within the SNP membership and office bearers who might still have sufficient integrity to expose this charade choreographed by charlatans who have brought the SNP to the brink.

      Steve Norris was quick to expose Emma Harper, the question to be asked is why did he not garner support from like minded members and call a halt to the flawed and biased electoral process before it became the farce it now is?

      Liked by 6 people

  4. The NEC, Peter, is riddled with the very clique and cult members that you want to avoid. Clearly, they will not want a reset. Their very existence within the party they infiltrated depends on there being no reset. Michael Russell’s copybook is now so blotted that no one with any sense can possibly trust him to do the right thing. Others in the Cabinet of Nicola Sturgeon are complicit in the tainting of the party’s principles. Trusting them is also a no-no or all of this mess will return with bells on.

    Either the party is cleansed or it must be allowed to wither away and be replaced by something more akin to the original SNP. Within a party, there is always room for change and for a new broom, but there can never be a ditching of core principles because that necessitates the destruction of the party as is, and replaces it with something very different. It happened to Labour, to the Tories, to the Lib Dems when managerial government took over and the core principles of each were abandoned for professional governance that destroys the will to govern for any other than a certain clique.

    The 2015 influx of new members contained the elements of the party’s destruction from day one, aided and abetted by Sturgeon and her clique, desperate to depart from the Salmond style, thinking they knew better and treating established members with utter contempt. Those elements who entered in 2015 with other genuine new members had one purpose for the party in mind: a takeover and redirection into cultural Marxism and Queer Theory. We don’t need to make guesses here because that is what the ‘trans’ lobby, backed by American billionaires, has done in every Western country.

    We can usually spot the far left influence, but, this time, they sneaked below the radar by dressing themselves as ‘women’ and pleading special treatment on pain of excommunication for members who had built up the SNP from the ground, and from the shoulders of the giants who went before them. They destroyed Old Labour in precisely the same way, using different disguises. Some of us recognised them immediately and tried to warn the party. Most of us are now in ALBA or other independence parties, our hearts sore, but determined to carry on until we regain Scottish independence.

    If we want to approach the reset button, we must ensure that at least most of these infiltrators are gone. It will not be enough to put the gas at a peep because they are experts at causing mayhem wherever they go, and every party in Scotland is in danger of infiltration by them, with the SNP in danger of a second outbreak of infection if it does not cleanse the party. A continuity leader or one who will tread only the middle ground of reconciliation is doomed to repeat the mistakes of Sturgeon and her cabal. Strong leadership is required now or the SNP will endure a succession of useless leaders and a withering of any remaining democracy until it either dies or re-emerges as a useless pretence of the party of independence. I cannot see the candidates standing down, but I may be very wrong.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Either the party is cleansed or it must be allowed to wither away and be replaced by something more akin to the original SNP
      I keep on saying it’s no wonder we’re never managing to build Indy when Yes voters have a choice between fantasy biology and Putin apology. Unfortunately I don’t think the current activists of either option are capable of rebuilding a movement without dragging in their own brand of tedious, unpopular campus concerns (e.g. unilateral disarmament, opposing “NATO expansionism”, supporting Hamas). It needs a new party and new bodies.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Aye, Terry. You’ve said a mouthful there. The movement can only be rebuilt around a strict focus on the constitutional issue and a clear plan for restoring independence. That’s what the hashtag #DissolveTheUnion represents. That should be the sole concern of the Yes movement. As soon as policy agendas are introduced, splits appear. Those “campus concerns” are parasites that suck energy from the movement rather than augmenting it. We can have diversity, by all means. But the idea that this means accommodating every policy agenda looking to hitch a ride is ludicrous. What is need is not diversity or conformity but unity of purpose. Which requires a defined purpose. ONE defined purpose that all can commit to. That’s #DissolveTheUnion.

        Liked by 3 people

  5. The SNP today is the product of a process that began 40 years ago with Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, the rise of a political class that put presentation over substance and ultimately created the cultural marxism we see with gender identity. The latter is still ongoing, possibly still on the rise. Politics and politicians across the West are inextricably entwined as the internet and social media in particular has creates a hemisphere wide type of group think. Untangling the SNP from this when the forces that created it in the UK, Europe and the USA is, shall we say, optimistic.

    All the forces that create deplorables, cries of bigotry, the perception that white supremacism is on the rise everywhere are still in play. Those will still drive the Sturgeon faithful to oppose every attempt at restoring the SNP to what it was before – a party that has it’s roots in a national identity and the desire to manage it’s own affairs.

    Only once the polarisation in American politics is reversed or the influence of social media is completely curtailed will you have the opportunity to repair the damage of the past 8 years. Until then nothing much will happen.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. ”she is a brilliant communicator who has been much less successful with strategy – on independence, land reform, centralisation, involving members via party conference or even her own MSPs in important policy decisions, let alone connecting with the wider Yes movement.”

    Everything Lesley says there can be summed up with 2 words ”Con Artist” that’s all she ever was.

    Also what Lesley seems not to have mentioned is in one one of her podcasts during the Salmond hearing she referred to Sturgeon as a ”Bonnie Fechter” that was the last time I ever listened to her podcast, I wonder if she’s reading this if she’d like to tell us how a lying backstabbing bastard can be a Bonnie Fechter

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Give Lesley a break! Lots of us once thought of Sturgeon as a bonnie fechter for Scotland. She disappointed. Most people do. But most people don’t matter because nobody has high expectations of most people. Nobody who has been living on this planet a while, anyway.

      I’m trying to get past the disappointment and frustration and anger. There’s a ditch there that you’ll have trouble getting out of if you dig in too deep. We can’t move forward unless we’re looking forward. I would very much like to put the Sturgeon era behind us. Not forgetting. But not obsessing, either.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. You ask “What can we do as individuals? ” Mind if I answer?

    “The Declaration of a Sovereign Scot” initiative. When I send signed “Declarations” to the Secretary General of the United Nations at the UN HQ in New York, I also enclose a letter. Each letter (and there have now been many such letters) identifies issues which are – not my opinion – but are drawn from within the United Nations itself and its Members.

    For instance – and be honest – did you know that there is an obligation on the Members of the United Nations to actively promote the right of self-determination, in addition to respecting it?

    The UK is such a Member of the UN – do you think they know? Do they know how important it may prove to be?

    You now know, and the UN, and its Members now know that you know!

    This is an extract from a recent letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations . It is just one example of why I believe the “Declaration” initiative will play its part in regaining the independence of Scotland.


    ” I now refer to the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, both of which expand Art.1 Par. 2 of the UN Charter.

    Article 1

    All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
    All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic cooperation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.
    The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realisation of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

    I note that Paragraph 3 confirms a mandatory obligation on the Members of the United Nations to actively promote the right of self-determination, in addition to respecting it.”


    The extract ends – but the “Declaration” initiative will continue! Saor Alba!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t doubt that initiatives such as the “Declaration” will play a part. But not without a sympathetic Scottish Government that also has the political will to act. It is only then that these supporting initiatives can come into play.

      My only concern is these initiatives might diffuse the energies of the Yes movement. There are far bigger problems relating to restoring the unity of purpose that was the ground on which the Yes movement was built. But it’s best to be mindful of all the challenges, large and small.

      I still hope to see all the initiatives and all the organisations and all the groups united under a single Yes umbrella and speaking with one voice. Not that I anticipate this happening ─ because people are shite ─ but it’s the only thing that will break us out of this accursed Union.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. “Waits for a sympathetic Scottish Government” … meanwhile:

    “The Declaration of a Sovereign Scot” initiative, is very deliberately being carried out in a series of Stages. An important Stage will shortly be started.

    If you have followed the “Declaration” initiative since 2021, you will know that it separates out what is “domestic law” from “international law”.

    This is an extract from a lettter to the Secretary General of the United Nations. It opens with one paragraph from the “Declaration” document itself.

    “It is important that recognition is very specifically directed to one of the paragraphs in those signed Declarations:

    “Exercising my Claim Of Right as a Sovereign Scot, I declare: I do not consent to the terms of, nor the continuation of, the Treaty of Union established through the Acts of Union in 1707.”

    The Treaty of Union involved two Sovereign States, the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England.

    Any scrutiny, debate or dispute preparatory to the potential cessation of the Treaty of Union falls to be addressed, and can only be dealt with at an international level – it was an international Treaty.

    Its ratification by the Parliaments concerned were “domestic matters”, but the Treaty of Union itself stands alone as an international Treaty and thus can only be addressed at that international level.

    There is simply no other appropriate legal locus.”

    I have asked the Secretary General of the United Nations to be the safe-keeper of all the “Declarations” that individuals have signed from all across Scotland. I am not asking, and have not asked, for his involvement beyond that role.

    The United Nations is a Member based organisation, it reaches its decisions via its Members.

    The next important Stage, that I refer to above will involve – over time and again in Stages – contact with individual Members.

    Per my last post, UN Members have an obligation under two United Nations Covenants to ACTIVELY PROMOTE the right of self-determination,

    Saor Alba!

    Liked by 1 person

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