The SNP cannot be decoupled from the fight to restore Scotland’s independence. That must be understood from the outset. The independence movement needs a source of effective political power if its objective is to be achieved. For better or worse, the SNP is the political arm of the independence movement. It is so because we, the people, made it so. Many people worked very hard for decades to get the SNP to a place where it would be in a position to provide the effective political power that Scotland’s cause requires. That the party has failed to use that power as Scotland’s cause requires is beyond question. The failure cannot be denied because the heel of the Union remains on Scotland’s neck. Every day that Scotland continues to labour under the burden of the Union is a day that the SNP has failed.

It must also be understood that replacing the SNP as the source of effective political power – the power to get things done – is a long-term project. Restoring Scotland’s independence cannot be a long-term project. The British Nationalist threat to our distinctive political culture and national identity is real and imminent. The SNP’s procrastination has put the country in great jeopardy. But replacing it is not an option.

Scotland’s independence can only be restored by the Scottish Government acting through the Scottish Parliament on behalf of the people of Scotland. The SNP is the party of government. It will be the party of government for at least another three years – probably eight. It is likely that the next UK government will be elected on a manifesto commitment to end what the British state sees as a threat to the Union, and thereby a threat to the very structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. Further delay beyond the announcement of a date for the next Westminster election – probably in late 2024 – would be unconscionably reckless. Only the SNP Scottish Government can possibly address Scotland’s predicament within the given time-frame.

Talk of totally decoupling the SNP from the fight to restore Scotland’s independence is foolish at best and deceitful at worst. Talk of decoupling Scotland’s cause from party politics is just as foolish, for the reason stated. Scotland’s cause needs the party of government. It cannot succeed without the active participation of the Scottish Government. The idea that the fight to restore Scotland’s independence might be non-political is idiocy of the first order. It is a constitutional battle. Nothing is more fundamentally political than the constitution. Political parties are an essential part of our democratic system. It is through political parties that people exercise collective power in the field of public policy.

The SNP cannot be decoupled from the fight to restore Scotland’s independence. It is the nature of the coupling which must change. It is good to hear Keith Brown acknowledge this. It would be gratifying to think that the SNP leadership is at last prepared to examine the way that coupling has developed, not just in the years since the 2014 referendum but going further back to the first SNP government in 2007. Or even back as far as the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament. I am persuaded that such examination will reveal that the problem became very much worse during the ‘Sturgeon years’. But I am sure also that the roots of the problem extend further back in history.

This examination of the relationship between the three ‘moving parts’ of Scotland’s cause – the movement, the campaign and the party – should be part of a rethink of all three. The entire constitutional issue needs to be reframed. The movement needs to be reunited. The campaign must be redesigned. The party must be refocused. And all of this must be done in a matter of a few months at most.

That is the challenge. It remains to be seen whether Scotland’s independence movement will accept this challenge.

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24 thoughts on “Couplings

  1. The SNP has shot it’s bolt; it has shown itself to be incompetent, corrupt, and has totally abandoned it’s core task. It shows absolutely no signs of realising any of these problems , let alone addressing them.
    I’m sorry Peter, they need to be replaced. I can only hope that as Alex’s Alba approaches electibility it will burn off the bloggers.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s going to happen anyway Peter, folk are going to vote for Thames rule parties next time round, and it’s too late to do anything about it. Yes just became a long term project again, like it or not, and we start by treating the SNP like the albatross it has become.


        1. It is not too late yet. There is no long term. The reality of the situation won’t change just because you ignore it. I’m as sick of the SNP as anyone. But I don’t allow that emotional perspective to cloud my thinking. I will not sacrifice Scotland’s cause in a spasm of spite against one party. Unfortunately, many are prepared to do just that.


        2. That sounds a very defeatist way of thinking.
          We have to try convince voters not to opt for London Parties.
          Labour still insist on Brexit for example, and are openly as anti Scottish as the tories.
          Labour politicians in Scotland can rant and rave about needing to deal with Cost of Living Crisis all they want, but know full well, Scotland can do only so much, or so little, within the union.
          We must point that out as much as possible.

          I agree SNP has not helped itself much these past few years.
          But we can’t afford to have more proLondon MPs.
          Bad as they are, or useless as they have been, having less SNP MPs, if not replaced by other pro Independence MPs, will be hugely more damaging for Scotland, than at present.
          ALBA is a tempting option for Westminster for some, but the danger there is in splitting the Independence vote, and allowing unionists back in, and, they will then claim “victory” and Scotland doesn’t want Independence, etc.
          We can’t have that happen. Not this time at any rate.
          However, if we do vote back in SNP, and they still do nothing, then, if it were to come to it, the next time round, ALBA would have maybe gained sufficient strength to be that alternative many hope for.

          But SNP must change their attitude fast, and not have any more of this Section 30 mush being the “Gold” standard, as we heard on BBC Question Time, the other night.
          SNP politicians at both Westminster and Edinburgh level, with that view, who merely shrug their shoulders not knowing how to answer the point of what they’d do if London keep refusing, has to go.
          MPs like Peter Wishart don’t help that much either.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I cannot disagree with anything in your article. I will be biting my tongue at the next election by voting for the SNP, how can I not? It’s the same reason I remain a member but detest so much that they do and the way they do it.

    The SNP require to be cleansed but that too is a slow process. To reset 8 years of inactivity by Sturgeon on pursuing independence cannot be rectified quickly. A shortcut to seize back power has to be found. SNP branches must find a way to interconnect a) to establish if they can find common cause and b) to work out a membership election strategy to oust those who have caused the current problems.


  3. It’s worth keeping in mind the distinction between the people occupying the positions of power in the organisation and the organisation itself. You could put a new crew in there today and everything would change – for the better. The only question is, how to take out the trash and find a new crew? A palace coup or at least shake a few people hard enough that they come to their senses?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I suggested a special conference called solely for the purpose of putting in that “new crew”. I don’t see any argument for putting trust in an internal revue conducted by the very people who have made the review necessary. I’m not even confident there will be a review. The party leadership has a habit of ‘forgetting’ such things.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry, but it simply ain’t going to happen. Certainly not in the time available, and even if it did, the SNP brand has forever been fatally tarnished. We need to replace them. This could theoretically be done at the next election, if enough voters switched their allegiance, but of course getting that to happen is the hard part, given the intransigent media that we have in this country.

    Time to stop flogging the yellow & black dead horse.

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Good. The problem is you’re not ready to give up on the SNP.

            They are not the solution. Have you not figured that out yet?


            1. The need for action is urgent. Only the Scottish government can take the action that is urgently needed. The SNP is the party of government.

              These are facts which don’t need any figuring out. Facts that you are happy to ignore. I don’t do fantasy politics.


  5. The problem is this. Does the SNP actually consider Independence important? Well, according Keith Brown in the National about the next UK GE:

    So it’s not going to change, independence is going to be front and centre.

    But if you look at the SNP website, which seems to keep 8 articles on its front page with a few lines for each and a link, at this moment in time absolutely none of them are about Independence, and the word “Independence” does not appear in the first 3 or 4 lines (20 to 30 words) which is what I get to see on a win11 pro laptop with firefox with sidebar with bookmarks view.

    Hardly “front and centre”, yet Yousaf seems to be campaigning about something, and who knows, people might look at the SNP website and find – well, nothing obvious about Independence.

    Well, if they want my vote I expect to see the word “Independence” in at least 2 of those 8 articles, at all times, and in the first 20 words – which is what many people will use to decide whether or not to read an article.


    1. I wouldn’t be voting for any other party by the way.

      I’d spoil my ballot sheet by writing “INDEPENDENCE” diagonally across the ballot sheet.

      If enough people in the 32 unitary coonting hoose authorities did that for the UK GE, someone in the SNP might at last queue up for a brain.


      1. That would be an effective form of mass action. But like all forms of mass action, it only works if it is ‘mass’ enough. What is ‘mass’ enough? Half of those who would otherwise vote SNP? Is that achievable? Being realistic, is it achievable? Bearing in mind that it is impossible to get the Yes movement to agree on a common hashtag, is it achievable?

        The ‘Salt Marches’ worked as a form of mass action because Gandhi was a great leader. He knew that the people would turn out for him. The cause hadn’t changed. The people hadn’t changed. What made the difference was the leader. Scotland’s independence movement has no such leader. You can’t just leapfrog the ‘charismatic leader’ bit and go straight to the mass action.

        Your chances of finding a leader that might be generally accepted as such by the independence movement may be judged by the fact that you can’t even get agreement on a common slogan for the movement. It’s the people who hold the solution to the problem. Unfortunately, it’s the people that are the problem.


      2. Spoiling ballot papers in that way, will not get us anywhere.
        The pro Union lot don’t care how many spoiled ballots there might be.
        They’d simply look at the actual votes cast, and the person with most votes, wins that election count.
        Only if absolutely everybody did that, then it could have some impact, as well, there would be no votes to count! There would have to be a rerun of that election.
        But when we have still a fair number of folks willing to vote for the pro London lot, there is too much at risk in spoiling ballots in that way.
        It might teach SNP a lesson, indeed, but at Scotland’s expense, for as I say above, the 1707s, as I call them, ( “Traitors” being another name I’d use ) would view that as an anti Independence victory, and they’d do far more damage to this country as a consequence.
        SNP has certainly betrayed our trust, but the likes of Labour will betray us even more!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I think we all know what the situation is. Restating it in a variety of ways isn’t very productive. The question is, what to do about it. There seems to be a widely held view that we can’t do anything about it and should give up on the SNP altogether. I then point out that this is effectively giving up on independence giving the reasons why this is so. The response I get is another restatement of the situation. and so it goes on. Round and round in circles.

      A variation on this is the response which says the SNP must be replaced. Usually with Alba. I point out that this would take somewhere between 8 and 80 years and the situation is urgent, everybody agrees that the situation is urgent but nonetheless we have to go for the 8 to 80 year sojourn because… restatement of the situation. Again, this is effectively giving up on independence.

      Point out that it’s giving up on independence and, typically, the response will be angry rejection of that suggestion accompanied by something about it being the SNP that is giving up on independence and – you guessed it! – a restatement of the situation.

      It is glaringly obvious that the only thing that works, even theoretically, is changing the way the current SNP Scottish Government is behaving. And that is the one thing that nobody will even consider attempting. Ask why that is ad guess what you get in reply.

      A total outsider looking at this behaviour would get the immediate and distinct impression that everybody was happy to do nothing so long as they can blame the SNP for nothing being done. which is functionally no different from the SNP doing nothing so long as they can blame the British state. The solution there is to remove that excuse by pointing out that it has fuck all to do with the British state. That the constitutional issue is entirely a domestic matter for Scotland.

      But nobody is prepared to do the work to force this point on the SNP because… here we go again!


  6. OK…but if the SNP continue as per the last 8 years….we need another route. Its only sensible to prepare and a Convention with or without the SNP is a real opportunity to build a concensus around a common route and a united Movement. It could be the Yes groups but they have no cohesion…no structure…no head. My belief us the AUOB organisation now they have sorted themselves out. They are brilliant at practical organisation….and thats what is needed…its what the SNP was brilliant at before they changed under Sturgeon. Fair do…if the SNP change…little sign of that happening so my appeal is to AUOB to seize the people power whose respect they have.


    1. There is no other route. That’s fantasy politics. There is one route. All the rest is distraction and avoidance. The notion of consensus is just as fantastical. So long as the fight to restore Scotland’s independence is encumbered with a plethora of policy agendas the independence movement will be crippled by factionalism.


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