Keeping up appearances

I think I must have met the new Minister for Independence at least once as I have a distinct impression of Jamie Hepburn being a very likeable individual. Genuinely likeable, rather than the practiced likeability generally exhibited by politicians who have any kind of likeability at all. If a warm personality and a winning smile were all it takes for him to succeed in his new role then I might be inclined to some hope of Scotland’s independence being restored within the arse-end of my existence. Experience and healthy cynicism, however, bid me assume that his appointment is no more than yet another ‘initiative’ of the kind we’ve grown accustomed to seeing announced with great fanfare before quietly disappearing.

In his column today, Richard Walker waxes enthusiastic about Humza Yousaf’s performance to date, suggesting rather prematurely that his “doubters” would soon have to “eat humble pie”. I was obliged to remind Richard in a below-the-line comment that

…throughout the eight grinding years when Nicola Sturgeon did absolutely nothing for Scotland’s cause, she still contrived to LOOK as if she was prioritising independence and working assiduously on achieving it. She maintained this false façade well enough to persuade many people to stubbornly deny the objective reality of zero progress in favour of the ‘never closer’ myth.

I also reminded him that Humza Yousaf wasn’t known as the ‘continuity candidate’ for no reason. That healthy cynicism I mentioned compels me to assume Yousaf is no more prepared to act on the constitutional issue than was his predecessor. The appointment of a Minister for Independence does nothing to dispel my doubts about Yousaf’s willingness to fight for the restoration of Scotland’s independence. Added to serious doubts about his ability to do so, I am not as eager as Richard Walker to hail him as the saviour of Scotland’s cause.

What is the point of a Minister for Independence when there is no plan for them to implement? From what Jamie Hepburn has said so far about his new role it is clear he’s been given no remit other than to continue the same approach to the constitutional issue as before. There is no fresh thinking in evidence. There is nothing new here. There isn’t even anything to suggest that he has been given scope to explore new ideas. On the contrary, such evidence as we have indicates that he is required to adhere strictly to the approach which has seen Scotland’s cause becalmed for the best part of a decade. Surely, if there was to be some new strategy or tactics the time to announce this would have been with the appointment of a Minister for Independence.

Not that it matters. Yousaf ─ or his minders ─ would probably be aware that the shiny bauble of a ministerial post would be enough to dazzle SNP loyalists. None of them is going to look beneath the title and ask what it really means for Scotland’s cause. Already, Yousaf is being afforded the same immunity from scrutiny that allowed Sturgeon to get away with posing as the champion of Scotland’s cause while keeping the independence bus parked up a blind alley where it wouldn’t rock the devolution boat. A bit of a metaphor masala there. But you take my point.

With all due respect to Jamie Hepburn, his new job is a sham. The creation of the post he now holds is an empty gesture. It’s not even a cabinet post! Because there is already a Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture ─ Angus Robertson. What might a Minister for Independence do that isn’t already part of the brief held by the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution? If the intention is that Jamie should function as some kind of aide to Angus Robertson, why not just appoint him as an aide to Angus Robertson. Although we’d have to wonder what is making Angus Robertson’s workload so heavy that he needs an assistant. It sure as hell isn’t anything he’s done to advance Scotland’s cause. We know that for certain because we know that Scotland’s cause has not advanced.

I’m not fooled by this conjuror’s flourish. Shame on those who are.

As I said, I reckon Jamie Hepburn is a decent sort of chap. I am sure he is perfectly genuine in his commitment to the restoration of Scotland’s independence. For that reason, I don’t expect him to last long as the Minister for Keeping Up Appearances. The only question is how long it will take him to realise he is being used for the purpose of maintaining a deception perpetrated on Scotland’s people by the leadership of the SNP. How long will he tolerate being thwarted at every turn should he try to act as he supposes a Minister for Independence should? Three months? Less?

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18 thoughts on “Keeping up appearances

  1. Why does the SNP dominated Scottish Government even need a Secretary for the Constitution or a Minister for Independence? After all isn’t that supposed to be the party’s reason for being? Isn’t that what they should be working for at all times? In every action that they take?

    Yousaf and his Pals Politburo – for that is what they are – doth protesteth too much methinks.

    The Continuity Candidate has appointed his Continuity Cabinet and now they have the likes of cheerleader Richard Walker as one of his chief Continuity Columnists in The National whose opening gambit in the article to which you refer is:

    “THOSE who questioned new First Minister Humza Yousaf’s commitment to prioritising independence and driving home the urgency of achieving it should be eating humble pie this morning.”

    Well I’m not eating humble pie and I’m not swallowing his hubristic lies.

    Richard Walker, whatever his past achievements in launching the (now formerly) pro-Independence daily newspaper and its Sunday sister title, should have stayed retired. His attempts at propagandising his readership should be embarrassing to himself. I guess it is possible that after 8+ years of turgid Sturgeon ‘leadership’, and justifying her every non-action on Scotland’s Cause, he simply can’t break the habit or perhaps he has simply lost all sense of self-awareness.

    However, the truth remains that the membership of the party overwhelmingly rejected the only candidate (Ash Regan) that offered a semblance of a plan for restoring Scotland’s full self-government and independent statehood.

    The SNP leadership and membership are in alignment (with a few honourable exceptions).

    Richard Walker speaks for, and to, them and they lap it up.

    Hell mend them.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I can see no reason why that would happen. In the first place, they are separate political parties. If they start collaborating then the Electoral Commission will have something to say about it. And it’s not as if Alba has a plan to submit. They are very good at giving the impression that they have a serious plan. Just as Sturgeon was good at pretending she was doing wonders for Scotland’s cause. But it’s all superficial gloss.

      If Alba adopts the #ManifestoForIndependence it will be a different story. But that’s a big ‘IF’.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They cannot, legally, form a formal alliance which is against the SEC rules. However, just as the Unionist parties do, to some effect, in defence of the Union and the status quo, they can form a loose alliance around independence. It is unlikely that ALBA will take directions from the SNP and vice versa, so it will have to be a loose understanding that anyone elected for a party of independence will count towards a final number. Indeed, it may work well, as the more pro independence MSPs/MPs elected on the independence ticket, the better. Catalunya has several independence parties, as other countries bidding for independence have had. In fact, it appears to be the norm. By maintaining that they, and only they, can win independence places the SNP is a dominant position to then do exactly what they please when they are elected, as happened on several occasions under Sturgeon, when independence was quietly pushed aside.


        1. It is NOT that “they, and only they, can win independence”. Not even the SNP claims this. It is that only the party of government can exercise the necessary effective political power. That is just basic politics. It is almost a universal truth. Which makes it all the more remarkable that it is widely denied in Scotland in favour of some delusional nonsense about a “rainbow parliament”. The whole ‘supermajority’ thing was and remains a myth. It was a crude deception concocted in a rush by Alba prior to the 2021 Holyrood election. It wasn’t even intended to win votes. I’m betting Alex Salmond was quite surprised that so many people were so completely taken in by the ruse. Even some very intelligent and knowledgeable people.

          The main purpose of the ‘supermajority’ lie ─ let’s call it what it is ─ was to embarrass the SNP. To make a stick with which to beat the SNP by making it look as if they had refused to cooperate with a cunning plan to totally transform the make-up of the Scottish Parliament. The SNP wanted nothing to with it because they are not that stupid. But they weren’t interested in killing the daft notion completely because it was a useful distraction from what WOULD have worked ─ the ‘supermandate’. The SNP leadership didn’t want that idea catching on because it threatened to empower voters and take control of the independence agenda out of their hands.

          It has been clearly and conclusively demonstrated that the ‘supermajority’ nonsense could not work in the real world, no matter how feasible it appeared to be if you were selective enough about which bits of the real world were taken into account. And yet, still people bang on about it as if it is an unrecognised miracle.

          Comparison with other countries is meaningless unless their political systems and independence movements closely mirror that of the UK and Scotland. None do. Look at Catalunya, for example. They might have had “several independence” parties, but you wouldn’t have known this from looking at their street demonstrations. They were a solid mass of identical flags, testifying to a unity of purpose that we never had even at the height of the Yes movement’s strength. In Scotland, the parties and factions were always clearly visible within the mass of Saltires. We worshipped diversity. By definition, that means all the different elements jealously maintaining their distinct identities and agendas. In Catalunya they had no fear of being subsumed into the mass movement because they genuinely put the cause before partisan interests. That never happened in Scotland. Which is why the diversity of which we were so proud very quickly descended into division when unity of purpose was tested.

          We need strategies and tactics that are tailored to the realities of Scottish and UK politics. OUR party system. OUR parliamentary system. OUR electoral system. OUR media. OUR society. The notion that because something worked in a totally different country it must work here is most politely described as simplistic and unrealistic. As is the notion that because something appears possible in the confines of a neatly constructed arithmetic model it might also be expected to work in the messiness of the real world.

          I weary of fantasy politics. I weary of deception and delusion.


          1. Peter: I neither said nor implied much of what you have stated. I am well aware that Scottish politics are unique in many ways because of the Union and the Treaty that brought it into being. Ireland also had a treaty. It is in Ireland that I see the similarities most, and the pitfalls of not regaining our independence.

            I personally believe that the SNP will wither away, or be swept away, and good riddance, unless it comes to its senses soon. It allowed itself to be hi-jacked by people who never had the slightest interest in restoring our independence, who actually need it to be delayed or destroyed in order to advance their own agendas.

            For the past eight + years, it has collaborated with, and colluded in, every UK decision. That is precisely what happened to Redmond’s Irish independence party, and, if Sinn Fein had not filled the gap, some other party would have. I think there is not the slightest chance in hell of the SNP doing anything whatsoever to regain our independence, so I cannot see how it takes us any further to say that it is only the SNP that has the power to do so. No amount of holding their feet to the fire has worked because they think they have us over a barrel. They do right now, but that is going to change very soon.

            I cannot say whether ALBA can step into the breach in time, but something will. I, too, am weary of the same old, same old. The partisan interests were none of my choosing, nor any other female in the independence movement’s choosing, Peter, but many of us will not vote for a party that aims to remove all our rights and hand them to men in frocks. You ask too much, I think. Anyway, I am truly scunnered of all the in-fighting and bile. I am so close to not caring any more, so sickened by the lack of nous and the complete naïveté of so many who should know better. Yet again, the SNP is playing games with us. This time, though, they are going to pay a very heavy price for their deception.


  2. Of course it is no more than window dressing, Peter. They have not the slightest intention of actually pursuing independence, never had, from after the referendum to the present. It has not been for lack of opportunity, so the only logical conclusion anyone with a functioning brain can possibly come to, is that is has been a deliberate fluffing of penalty-taking at the open goal or, in common sports parlance, throwing the game. I do not believe that there is any point in flogging this dead donkey. All the SNP is now interested in is ‘progressive’ (actually, regressive) politics – i.e. ‘wokery’, and, specifically, ‘trans’.

    I almost fell off my chair laughing today when I read, in The National, Owen Jones’s epistle to the faithful. Two pages of total ordure from one of the most vociferous of the ‘trans’ lobby, lecturing Scots on the efficacy of the left. Ay, right, a middle-class, Oxbridge-educated, metropolitan ‘wokerati’ who wouldn’t recognise working-class leftism if it came up behind him and bit him in the bum. I come very close to loathing these middle-class arrivistes who cannot hope to understand real, still extant, working-class solidarity and the desire for a decent existence.

    They opt for the easy path of experimental social engineering to try and introduce equity and parity, which are applicable only in very small doses in very particular circumstances, such as equal pay for equal work. Otherwise, equality of opportunity is the very best anyone can offer and there will always be those who fall through the net. Owen Jones exemplifies the ‘woke’ movement in the West: it wants equity and parity which can never be satisfied because the victimisation and oppression which is inherent in ‘woke’ (pampered, middle-class Western -style, and nothing to do with American black ‘woke’) is never-ending until it manages to wrest all rights from every other group in society in pursuit of cultural Marxism and Queer Theory, as if these were ever part of working-class culture which was always conservative, with a small ‘c’.

    The SNP has been the vehicle for the hard left ‘wokerati’ narrative and the Greens’ impossible targets for ‘greening’ the planet, eschewing innovation and invention, with the result that independence has been forgotten in favour of utterly regressive policies that help no one, least of all the people at the bottom who need it most. Working-class leftism was never, ever about ‘trans’ or ‘woke’ or even the kind of feminism (after the second wave) that could not accept the limitations of biological reality – or any other contrived oppression – but about lifting up all to a better existence through fair taxation and distribution of resources. Independence was always a thread, a powerful thread, of that aim, which, if any of these people bothered to read the history books, would be evident in Keir Hardie’s championing of home rule for Scotland in the original Labour Party, now a pale, sickly shadow of its former self. All parties start to die the minute they abandon the core principles of their raison d’être.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As I said in a comment I posted the other day, this is the latest carrot, and the sheep would go for it. Which they seem to be doing.

    It’s rather a cunning strategy. Not for the achievement of independence, but for the protection of Humza and Angus, as it sets up an individual to blame if (when) the sheep get restless. So he can be disposed of and the next fall guy can be appointed.

    Just making him an assistant to Angus would have put him too close. It had to be a distinct position so the flak lands on him alone. It could well have been the idea of Angus (and/or Sturgeon) particularly as Mr. Hepburn reports directkly to Humza.

    So a fall guy appointed by a fall guy provides double cover for Angus. Neat.

    Don’t expect anything soon from this new Ministry. They take time to set up and to recruit staff, then prepare feasibility studies, options for discussion at conference, etc.

    Tinned carrots anyone? See how far you can kick this down the road.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. They really are a nasty bunch. They think the independence voting public will be appeased by this appointment because his title contains that magic word ‘independence’.

    Well, try again do-nothing, promise-the-earth SNP. We’ve had 8 years of your crappy empty independence promises. Enough!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Not a cunning plan , just another squirrel like the insulting and vacuous 11 point plan Mike Russell briefly touted. The ill thought out de facto Referendum with contradictory briefings when the left hand had no clue what the right was doing – and cared less should have been a definitive signal that the so called leaders of the independence movement really dont know what they are doing.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. If Mr Murrell is found guilty, and by arresting such a high profile person Police Scotland must have strong evidence that he is, then there must be huge questions around many others in the SNP government including the oversight people, Nicola Sturgeon, the former and present Cabinet, and the SNP MPs and MSPs. The SNP government as a whole will be viewed as an enterprise purporting to have independence as its main aim yet not using ‘ring fenced’ donations for that purpose. The details that may emerge as to how exactly the ring-fenced money was spent and where it ended up will be of great import.

    SNP MPs and MSPs collecting high salaries on the same independence platform must surely consider their position. Whether Mr Murrell is found guilty or not, now that he has been arrested, opposition Parties will be calling for an election. All this sets independence back. No hope the ‘continuity’ FM will wave a wand and sort all this out. The good ship SNP is steaming towards the rocks…


      1. Peter

        Sorry if I somewhat overstepped the mark although I was at pains to point out everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Yes, I agree, we need to be careful with our words. I am reading some comments on Wings that already have the whole bunch of them hung, drawn, and quartered.

        Dinnae fash yercell, I tell myself, whatever happens we see some light in the darkness. More and more people will surely now turn to look at your independence manifesto and to other routes to independence.

        I believe the police have 12 hours to either charge him of a crime, or to not charge him of a crime. We should know soon either way.

        The ramifications of today should keep your pen busy for a long time.

        You were gracious in your praise of Rev Campbell. Your modesty does you credit as I believe your writing also will be held in high regard for years to come.



        Liked by 2 people

  7. The cops have popped ’round to Sturgeon’s house en mass with a tent to do some gardening and housework. Ditto the SNP headquarters. Sturgeon husband / party chief exec from 5 minutes ago questioned under caution. For 12 hours.

    This will only get a lot worse. That’s the SNP scuppered until sometime in the 2030’s.

    That was quick.


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