Bursting the conspiracy bubble

This was originally written as a response to the Campbell Martin article being shared on Facebook. I thought it might be of some interest,

As conspiracy theories go, this one from Campbell Martin is almost majestic in its grandeur. But like almost all such notions, it succumbs to Occam’s Razor and rational analysis. The basic tool of rational analysis is the question. With conspiracy theories our first question should be, what am I being asked to believe here? All too often, people go straight to accepting the conspiracy interpretation without asking what is required for that interpretation to be credible.

For example, conspiracy theories about the 2014 referendum count being rigged collapse as soon as you ask what would be the lowest number of people required to interfere with the count to such an extent as to affect the outcome. You then realise that you are being asked to believe that thousands of people have been involved in this operation. This prompts further questions. How were these people recruited? How has their silence been ensured? How did they repeatedly circumvent all the checks that are in place to prevent such interference? Thus dies a conspiracy theory.

Campbell Martin asks us to believe that the British security services are impeccably competent while the Scottish political elite is infinitely corruptible. Neither of these things is credible. Even if I have overstated what he asks us to believe by a large margin, it remains unbelievable. If it was only Nicola Sturgeon who’d been ‘got at’ it might be possible to suspend disbelief for the sake of a good story. But this conspiracy would require that the British security services have a grip on a large number of people. And that this grip should be perfectly maintained over a considerable period of time. And that to should apply to people whose circumstances and loyalties changed over that period. And that the conspiracy remain invisible despite what seem like very obvious signs the way they are described by Campbell Martin.

Consider also the alternative explanations with which this conspiracy theory must compete. Is it really so difficult to believe that Nicola Sturgeon was just plain fallible? Is it at all incredible that everything might be explained by ordinary human frailties and failings? Ineptitude and arrogance combined with power can accomplish feats of fuckuppery that would be far beyond even the most artful of Machiavellian scheming.

Ask another question. Why would the British state risk such a shaky conspiracy? The cost of getting caught far outweighs any possible advantage. One of the other things Campbell Martin’s conspiracy demands that we believe is that the British are trembling in fear of Scotland’s independence movement. Why would they be so worried? This is the British state. They’ve been playing this game for centuries. The British state is known not for its fearfulness, but for its fearsomeness in defending its interests as well as its proud confidence in its ability to overcome all threats. Why would they suppose they needed a massively complex conspiracy to defeat Scotland’s independence movement when they already had all that they needed?

All the British state needed to do was play for time. Time was very much on their side. They had no need to undermine the SNP or suborn its leaders. Wait long enough and the SNP would fuck up all on its own. Political parties always do. Particularly when in government. Keep the clock ticking and the independence movement would succumb to factionalism. Political movements always do.

Was the British state working behind the scenes to slow things down? Well, duh! Of course they were! But they have all manner of tools available to them for this purpose. No great conspiracy is required. What they most assuredly did have was a detailed profile of Nicola Sturgeon and others in the SNP leadership. THAT is what the security services do! They collect and collate information. They knew at every moment how Sturgeon would respond to events and developments. They were aware of all her weaknesses. They used this knowledge to manipulate her in ways far more subtle and vastly less fraught than blackmail or bribery. For example, the saw her aversion to confrontation politics and so they ensured that progress for Scotland’s cause demanded confrontation. One reason for the blank refusal to grant a Section 30 order was that this was the sole non-confrontational route. Block that leaving only confrontational options and Sturgeon was always going to baulk. It was in ways like this that they ensured the delay that was all they needed.

Some of us saw the danger of hesitation early on. I don’t pretend to have predicted exactly what has occurred. But I knew that given time something of the like would certainly happen. Which is why I pushed in vain for a referendum no later than September 2018. My only reward is that I get to say “Telt ye!”.

We are where we are not due to some ‘evil plot’ but because we put too much trust in people who turned out to be as susceptible to folly as people generally are. The only two ingredients required for a monumental fuck-up are people and time.

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24 thoughts on “Bursting the conspiracy bubble

  1. But the lesser conspiracy theory is far more credible Peter – way back to Walsingham, British security forces are guy sleekit and frequently successful. They put their placemen in pivotal positions, and it is far from fanciful to imagine that the maddest margins of gender-identity beliefs have taken root in the SNP, Greens and Plaid Cymru with heavy involvement from MI5.


      1. Fair point. Btw, did you ever hear much about the Scottish Democratic Alliance back in the day? They never seemed to get anywhere, and they wound up in 2019, but with the implosion of the SNP something along their lines could cut through these days (I’m thinking a Scexit party).


          1. Mmm… I note that Alba now go for the EEA and don’t insist Scotland shackles itself to the EU and its disastrous fishing, farming and energy policies


            1. That’s just an example of the timidity I’ve been talking about. The EEA doesn’t work without the EU. So, if the idea is to have nothing to do with the EU, EEA is hardly the way to go. It’s just pandering to the folk who were taken in by the British media’s 40-year anti-EU propaganda campaign.

              I want politicians who have the courage of their convictions. If they are anti-EU then let them try to sell their isolationist ideology instead of covering with a thin varnish of internationalism. Likewise, if they are convinced Scotland should be freed from the Union, let them say so. Let them state explicitly what they propose to do to end the Union rather than plying us with platitudes and glittering generalities.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Bard says:

                There are several benefits of belonging to the EEA but not the EU. These include:

                Free movement of goods, services, capital, and people. EEA countries have the same access to the EU’s single market as EU member states. This means that goods, services, capital, and people can move freely between EEA countries.
                No tariffs or quotas on trade. EEA countries do not have to pay tariffs or quotas on goods traded with other EEA countries. This makes it easier for businesses to trade with each other and helps to boost economic growth.
                Common rules on competition and consumer protection. EEA countries have agreed to abide by the same rules on competition and consumer protection. This helps to ensure a level playing field for businesses and protects consumers.
                Access to EU funding. EEA countries are eligible for EU funding, which can be used to support economic development, research and innovation, and other projects.
                Cooperation in other areas. EEA countries cooperate on a range of other issues, such as justice and home affairs, foreign policy, and security. This helps to build closer ties between the countries and promote peace and stability in Europe.

                However, there are also some drawbacks to belonging to the EEA. These include:

                EEA countries have no say in EU decision-making. EEA countries are not members of the EU, so they do not have a say in EU decision-making. This can be frustrating for EEA countries, as they may feel that they are being excluded from important discussions.
                EEA countries have to contribute to the EU budget. EEA countries have to contribute to the EU budget, even though they do not have a say in how the money is spent. This can be seen as unfair by some EEA countries.
                EEA countries are subject to EU law. EEA countries are subject to EU law, even though they are not members of the EU. This can be seen as a loss of sovereignty by some EEA countries.

                Overall, there are both benefits and drawbacks to belonging to the EEA. Each country must decide for itself whether the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.


                1. Correction. Each INDEPENDENT country must decide for itself. The primary constitutional issue concerns who decides such subsidiary matters, The issue of ending the Union and restoring independence MUST be separated from these subsidiary matters.

                  Liked by 2 people

                2. A point regards EU and its Fishing policies, etc, is that Scotland had no say in anything.
                  London decided everything, and it was this London based rule, and decision making that created much of the problems for us.
                  With Independence, Scotland could decide things, and have a say on EU policies and how those policies can be made to work for Scotland.
                  It seems clear, that many who want Independence, but not be part of EU, view everything from this same angle of London Rrle.
                  It is also, or should be very clear to all, that London did precious little of use for this country while we were in Europe.
                  This attitude of London pigheadedness, and obstruction towards EU, has clouded the judgement of a fair number of Scottish folks, tho we would have expected some others in the politics, here to this!

                  Liked by 2 people

                  1. That last line should have read,
                    we would have expected some others in politics here, to see this!


  2. To be fair I suspect the truth is somewhere in between.

    Yes let venality and incompetence work their magic but with a wee bit of “management” when required!


    1. That is precisely what I am suggesting. It is the simplistic, comic-book notions of dastardly conspiracy the I disdain. There simply is no need foe ‘agents’ infiltrated into a party. Which is not to say that it never happens. But it is vastly more common for ‘soft’ methods to be used. Not least because they work without anyone obviously working them. If you know a political actor well enough and have the means – which the British state obviously does – then you can contrive all manner of devices for moving things in the direction you want.

      I’m absolutely certain the British knew Nicola Sturgeon better than she knew herself. They knew precisely how she would respond to any ‘stimulus’. So they arranged the stimuli that would make her react the way they wanted.

      I speak often of conspiracy as an emergent property of power relationships. If there are enough people with a sufficient amount of influence and a shared objective then when viewed in hindsight the actualisation of that objective will be at least superficially indistinguishable from the result of an objective. That’s because of the way power works and because the human brain is a huge pattern-finding machine then will find patterns and attribute significance to them even if they are not real or relevant. What people do is start from the outcome and having decided there was a conspiracy, work backwards finding the connections that confirm the conspiracy theory (confirmation bias) even though these supposed connections are not connections at all but simply the aggregation of unconnected influences.

      A ubiquitous feature of conspiracy theories is that all counter-evidence gets folded into the conspiracy. The fact that there is no evidence of a conspiracy ‘proves’ that there was a conspiracy to conceal the conspiracy. So it is that even if it is established beyond doubt that to supposed conspirators were not acquainted and had never met or communicated, that is only as the conspiracy would require.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Here’s one for you Peter, did GCHQ interfere in the leadership election of the SNP leadership race, did GCHQ and Murrell conspire to put Yousaf in Bute House?

    The above open up further choices did the SNP membership vote for Yousaf, and by doing so kill independence via the SNP stone dead? And what does that say about the SNP membership if they did?

    Or did the SNP membership actually vote for Ash Regan the only candidate with a plan for indy, but Murrell and GCHQ tampered with the votes to make sure Yousaf won?


    1. Why would they take the trouble to ‘rig’ a contest Yousaf was clearly going to win?

      If GCHQ did “interfere”, so what? Such interference in the affairs of other nations is ubiquitous and has been for as long as there have been nations. As have the countermeasures. That interference is now built into the system. We might regret this. But it is effectively impossible to prevent it. Live with it!

      There is good reason to suppose the membership did vote for Yousaf. They were always going to favour the ‘continuity’ candidate. We know this because they are still members of the SNP. I’m talking here of the membership as a whole. Obviously, there are exceptions. Those exceptions were at about the level we would expect. The only real question was whether the favoured candidate would win in the first round or if it would go to a second round.

      What it says about the SNP membership is that they are no more thoughtful than the mass of the Yes movement, which seems determined to pursue every imagined ‘route’ to independence. The SNP membership believes the SNP will do it. Alba members believe Alba will do it. Countless others believe it will be done by the UN or the ICJ or the ‘international community’ or by ‘the people’ absent any party political involvement. The key word her is ‘belief’. They believe. That is all. In every case, it is a faith position. A position which places no value on rational argument. Each of these factions maintains with total conviction that theirs is the only true faith. They are all wrong.

      I don’t do faith. I don’t ‘believe’. I may be persuaded of something by the available evidence and reasoned arguments and reliable assumptions. But I never simply believe. Thus, from my perspective, there is absolutely no difference between the SNP believer and the Alba believer or any of the other ‘faiths’. They are all fools in my eyes. And I am not at all embarrassed to say so. It is they who should be embarrassed.

      If they were to think it through instead of abandoning thought altogether on encountering something that the wanted to believe, they would realise that none of these entities currently offers a means of ending the Union and restoring independence. None of them is even talking about what might be effective. Why should they? They are politicians. What needs to be done requires the they be bold and tenacious. That they risk their comfortable sinecures. Of course they’re not going to do that. Nobody is even trying to force them to do it. Because they all ‘believe’ they already have a solution. Their faith will save them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tour de force there Peter ,but how do we get them out of their comfy slippers and into hob-nail boots ?


        1. By using our own “hob-nail boots” to kick politician arse. 50,000 people surrounding the Scottish Parliament shouting #EndTheUnion might focus a few minds. If it doesn’t focus enough, do it again but with 100.000 people.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Another point or two Peter, is it a conspiracy that David Harvie an known Mi5 agent was the Crown officer, and was it just a coincidence that he appeared and spoke to the judge on Craig Murray’s trial, and he also made and appearance in court when David Lewellyn was at court, possibly even at Mark Hirst’s court appearance as well, was it also just coincidence that two men were secretly recording Alex Salmond’s lawyer after his acquittal on a train.

    Professor Alf Baird has summed it up on several occasions explaining how our Holyrood government (under Sturgeon) came to an agreement with Westminster to maintain the status quo, its happened across the globe over the centuries via the British Empire.


    1. You seem to imagine that in saying there was not necessarily any formal conspiracy I’m saying the British state is entirely innocent. You imagine this despite me making a point of saying,

      “Was the British state working behind the scenes to slow things down? Well, duh! Of course they were! But they have all manner of tools available to them for this purpose. No great conspiracy is required.”

      A conspiracy is very different from an assortment of actions by a variety of actors. A conspiracy require by definition that there be connection, cooperation and coordination among these disparate elements. There is no evidence for this and it seems highly unlikely – for the reasons stated.


  5. Of course Peter is right. Sturgeon knew she did not have the cojones for a fight….so she invented the s30 as the only LEGAl way to achieve independence. After the scare of 2014 its off the table for ever…and she made sure it was by initiating the Supreme court action. That’s why she resigned….other routes to indy all require confrontation. The types of mandate or expanding the Yes vote have to end up ultimately in a Scotyish Provisional Government Revoking the Treaty of Union. Legal for it was an international Treaty between tecognised sovereign states….ergo it can be revoked by either. We need to break out of Westminsters agenda and into an international one. We will see what states support us. If none then we are no worse ofvbut can see we are but a colony of England. Buy I believe many will support us but can’t now because of the convention not to become involved in domestic issues of another state. That is the link that must be broken. Any other route gives in to Westminster to say…not now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It must be #ScottishUDI. It must be done in a particular way. Not a declaration of independence, but a declaration asserting the primacy of the Scottish Parliament in matters relating to the constitution on the basis of its democratic legitimacy and the sovereignty of Scotland’s people; primarily – but not solely – for the purpose of facilitating the exercise by the people of Scotland of our inalienable right of self-determination – there being no other way this can be done.

      Let the British state challenge that if they dare. I’m sure Joanna Cherry would relish the opportunity to face the British government’s lawyers as they try to convince a court that Westminster has more democratic legitimacy in Scotland than does Holyrood.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. If people want to see what a conspiracy looks like, you have to go no further than look at how Alex Salmond was ganged up on.


    1. Aye. And look at the mess the conspirators made of it. It’s not the idea of attempted conspiracy that defies belief. It’s the idea of a conspiracy flawlessly executed. By definition, a conspiracy must involve two or more people. The potential for fuckuppery increases exponentially with every additional person, having started from a high base with just one.


  7. Here’s a simpler scenario , P .

    The 1st predicate is whether or not you believe Sturgeon was involved in the CONSPIRACY to destroy Alex Salmond , or not . If the latter , go straight to Never Never Land and gambol gaily with the fluffy lambs of infinite gullibility .

    If one believes the former … eg… that Sturgeon was up to her neck in the CONSPIRACY to destroy Alex Salmond the question then is how much * dope * on her complicity in the plot is held by the Brit State ?

    The answer , surely , is a lot , all of it : all the twisted machinations , inventions & reversals of precedent – albeit characterised by that quintessential Nu SNP quality …ie … bungling arrogance – designed with the single aim of * neutralising * A Salmond .

    There needn’t be any overt collusion to effect the desired result – the continuing paralysis of the movement towards Independence . All that would have been required is ” she knows we know ” .

    None of which ( if at all accurate ) is mitigation for Sturgeon’s abject failure to progress our cause . She is no one’s victim . WE are the * victims * of her bad faith and grievous character flaws

    Liked by 2 people

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