Ineffectual!

It was entirely predictable that British Nationalists would seek to create new impediments to holding a referendum and further obstacles to achieving a Yes vote should their efforts to deny Scotland’s democratic right of self-determination fail. Knowing the British mentality as we do, this anti-democratic manoeuvring was only to be expected. The British political elite always play by the rules. So long as they are allowed to write the rules; and to change them at will and without notice; and to have one set of rules for themselves and another for everybody else. The effort to ‘rig’ the process was readily anticipated and was, in fact, foretold by several commentators.

Nobody is surprised. Except, apparently, the SNP. The people we’d hope would be more politically astute than most appear to have been naive enough to suppose the British establishment would actually respect democratic principles. Nicola Sturgeon continues to be totally and unshakably committed to the Section 30 process despite the inevitability of the British political elite using that process to thwart democracy. Our First Minister remains completely deaf to the growing clamour within the Yes movement warning of the danger of trusting the British government. She remains oblivious to the voices urging her to immediately seize control of the entire referendum process in the name of preserving Scotland’s democracy. Despite the obvious anti-democratic intent of the British political elite, Nicola Sturgeon still seems happy to cede to them all the authority they need to ‘rig’ the process.

There are protests. Keith Brown says “the Tories are holding democracy in contempt”. Well of course they are, Keith! What did you expect? More importantly, what do you intend to do about it? He insists, yet again, that the Scottish Government has a mandate for a new referendum and that to refuse to recognise that mandate constitutes contempt of Scotland’s Parliament. But there is not so much as a hint that he and his colleagues have any intention to respond purposefully to this attack on Scotland’s democratic institutions.

It’s the same with Brexit. We get entirely redundant daily reminders from Ian Blackford and others about how catastrophic Brexit will be and how awful it is that this is being imposed on Scotland against the will of the Scottish people. But, apart from the incessant lament, what has the Scottish Government actually done to prevent Scotland being dragged out of the EU despite our emphatic Remain vote? They say this is unacceptable. But they seem content to accept it.

Already I can hear the pathetic bleating issuing from those with minds so effectively colonised as to render them incapable of thinking outside the British box. What can we do? We have no power! We have to obey the rules! We can’t be seen to do anything naughty! What do you expect?

[Insert appropriately expressive expletive!]

We can do whatever we are sufficiently determined to do! We have whatever power we choose to assert! We are under absolutely no obligation to obey any rules other than those we make for ourselves! We have to be seen to be willing to defend our democracy! I expect our politicians to do the job we elected them to do!

I don’t dismiss the difficulties involved in confronting the British state. Those difficulties have been aggravated by five years of inaction. They will only get greater with every day that passes without the bold, decisive action which is required to stop the British Nationalist juggernaut crushing our democratic institutions.

The Scottish Government must recognise that the British state is absolutely determined to close all democratic routes to independence. They must realise that the only democratic route to independence we can rely on is the one we create for ourselves and over which we retain total control. A process made by the Scottish Government working through the Scottish Parliament with the support of the sovereign people of Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon must explicitly reject the authority of the British political elite to interfere in any way in the process by which Scotland decides the matter of its constitutional status and chooses the form of government which best suits the needs of Scotland’s people. The First Minister must abandon the Section 30 process. She must insist that the British state, its agencies and its proxies are entirely excluded from Scotland’s constitutional decision-making process, in accordance with international laws and conventions. The SNP’s whole approach to the constitutional issue must be subject to an immediate, urgent and rigorous review.

Circumstances demand a mindset very different from that which is presently in evidence. How can we claim to be ready and determined to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status if we aren’t even prepared to take control of the process by which constitutional normality will be restored?

How can we even claim to deserve independence if the government we elect is prepared to let a government entirely lacking in democratic legitimacy make the rules for us?

How can we claim that the people of Scotland are sovereign while our own elected leaders are in thrall to the sovereignty of the British parliament?

One word, more than any other, comes to mind when I look at the Scottish Government’s handling of the constitutional issue – ineffectual! Against all the evidence to the contrary, they still proceed on the basis that the British will respect democratic principles. They continue to suppose that there is a path to independence abiding by the rules made by the British state for the purpose of preserving the Union at any cost. They persist in imagining that there must be a route to independence which avoids direct and almost certainly acrimonious confrontation with the British establishment. This is all delusion. And it is delusion which threatens to be fatal to Scotland’s cause.



If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence movement.

Donate with PayPalDonate with Pingit

The formula

There’s a distinct note of desperation in the way senior SNP figures can’t speak of the Ashcroft poll without using terms such as “phenomenal”. Like those people at major celebratory events who are trying just that wee bit too hard to look like they’re having the most fun anyone has ever had. Who are they trying to convince?

In Keith Brown’s case, that would be us – party members and the rest of the Yes movement. The SNP leadership has seized on the Ashcroft poll with the eagerness of someone accused of a serious crime who has suddenly been offered an alibi. At last! Something they can represent as vindicating the relentless waiting that has become their only discernible strategy.

But all the purple prose and rhetorical superlatives cannot long divert from the fact that, approaching five years after the first referendum, the independence cause has not been advanced one millimetre by anything attributable to the SNP. It will be protested that they are doing stuff now, such as Citizens’ Assemblies and the Referendums Bill. But that merely prompts questions about why these things weren’t done two or even three years ago.

By their reaction to the Ashcroft poll, if nothing else, the SNP demonstrates the importance it attaches to such indicators of the public mood. So the fact that the polls have barely twitched while the British political elite has been behaving like a troupe of demented clowns must say something about the SNP’s ‘strategy’. And nothing very complimentary. If there was a ‘secret’ plan to take advantage of the disarray among British Nationalist politicians then it has been so secret as to leave no impression either on the polls or on the consciousness of observers.

And before the idiot SNP-haters get their smug faces on, this also demonstrates that the Yes movement can’t do it alone. Because nothing the Yes movement has done in the last few years has had a significant impact on the polls either. If anything, this simply proves the need for the SNP and the Yes movement to work together.

But even if all the parts of the independence movement were working well together, they would still require some kind of strategy. And ultimate responsibility for setting that strategy must rest with the SNP. The Yes movement has a vital role to play in developing the strategy. Having no hierarchical structures of its own, however, the Yes movement has to rely on leadership provided by the SNP. The SNP has not done nearly enough to connect with and draw on the people power and campaigning resources of the Yes movement. The Yes movement has to do better at utilising the political power and organisational resources of the SNP.

Kenny MacAskill’s criticisms of the First Minister may be largely, if not wholly, justified. But this is not a time for recriminations. Opportunities have missed. Time has been squandered – in particular the extra year’s grace afforded by the Article 50 extension. Rather than making us bitter or despondent, this should goad us into efforts to make up for the time that has been lost and create new opportunities to replace those that have been missed.

Developing an effective campaign strategy requires that the SNP and the Yes movement work together. As I wrote three months ago – evidently to no avail,

An accommodation must be found. Factionalism is most certainly not any kind of solution. It is, in fact, a way of avoiding the difficult task of finding that accommodation between the SNP and the Yes movement – and among all the elements of the independence cause – which will allow each and all to be effective.

In the Yes movement, we have come almost to worship diversity as the greatest of virtues. For a movement, this may be true, But for a campaign, the greatest virtue is solidarity. In celebrating our diversity, we have fallen into the habit of talking about our differences, rather than that which we hold in common. Recognition that “we all want the same thing” tends to come as an afterthought to lengthy discussion of distinctive policy platforms – if it comes at all. We talk about our respective visions for Scotland’s future, relegating consideration of the key to that future to somewhere lower down the agenda.

The single point at which all the elements of the independence cause meet is the Union. The thing that everybody in the independence movement agrees on is that the Union must end. It cannot even be said that all agree on independence. Because there are differing ideas about what independence means. There is no ambiguity whatever about the imperative to end the Union.

It is a happy coincidence that the point at which all the elements of the independence campaign come together also happens to be the British state’s weakest point. So, let’s not talk of factions. No faction is going to prise Scotland out of its entanglement in the British state. This will only be achieved by the four constituent parts of the independence campaign acting in accord. The SNP as the lever. The Scottish Government (Nicola Sturgeon) as the fulcrum. The Scottish Parliament as the base. The Yes movement as the force.

And let us all agree that the object we are acting against is the Union.



If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence movement.

Donate with PayPalDonate with Pingit

No trust! No redemption!

Keith Brown expresses concern that “viewers will lose trust in the BBC if this deception continues“. This seems strangely naive on at least two levels.

It is folly to suppose that, in Scotland at least, public trust in the BBC has not already been seriously eroded. Just as trust in other British media and political journalists in general has suffered because of a common stance which I cannot now describe as anything other than anti-Scottish.

If the BBC were doing no more than defending the constitutional status quo then it would be difficult to criticise or condemn the corporation. But it has moved beyond mere portrayal of the Union as the established situation and/or presentation of what the BBC’s management may consider the advantages and benefits of the Union to Scotland.

The BBC no longer merely promotes the Union, as its charter commands. The BBC has now adopted – or allowed to develop – an editorial stance which actively opposes a lawful democratic campaign for constitutional reform which is supported or condoned by the majority of Scotland’s people. And the BBC pursues this editorial policy by means which are, at best, questionable and, at worst, a breach of its charter and an affront to the codes and conventions of professional journalism.

In the context of Scotland’s constitutional debate (I leave it to others to identify further contexts), BBC news and current affairs broadcasting in/to/at Scotland has come to emulate the worst of British newspapers’ excesses in denigrating and maligning Scotland’s democratic institutions, public services and economic capacities using disinformation, deceit, distortion and downright dishonesty.

Indeed, the BBC is seen to colluded with the openly British Nationalist press in various ways. The corporation’s news and current affairs operations have developed a symbiotic – or mutually parasitic – relationship with the establishment press evident in those all too common situations where BBC news does not report, but reports that it is being reported, so placing itself at some remove from the brazen anti-Scottish propaganda being peddled by British newspapers. Those newspapers, in turn, seek to borrow authority and credibility from the BBC; having already squandered whatever they may once have possessed.

The question long since ceased to be whether the the public in Scotland trusts the BBC. The question now is, why would we trust the BBC?

It is folly, too, to suppose that the BBC might abandon the editorial stance referred to. Keith Brown implies that he believes this possible when he says “if this deception continues”. As if there were any doubt that it would. There is no retreat from the BBC’s support for British Nationalist ideology which does not simultaneously undermine the British establishment and strengthen the independence cause. As other factors, such as Brexit, have this effect the BBC will be under pressure to increase its efforts to promote an ever more extreme British Nationalist denial of Scotland’s democratic rights. And to broadcast ever more more virulent anti-Scottish propaganda.

In short; BBC coverage of Scotland’s politics will get very much worse before it never gets better. It will increasingly be seen as a ‘foreign’ broadcaster carpet-bombing Scotland with tales of our inadequacy and unworthiness. Sowing doubt and uncertainty and fear in the minds of Scotland’s people. Sapping confidence and instilling self-contempt. Suffocating the will to act and persuading people of their powerlessness.

As the broadcasting arm of the British establishment, the BBC’s task is to have the people of Scotland believe that we are less than we might be and never can be more because what we are is all we are capable of being and all we deserve to be.

We can trust the BBC to pursue that task with efficiency and enthusiasm.



If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence movement.

Donate with PayPalDonate with Pingit

Soft targets

This more assertive attitude from the SNP is certainly welcome. But it continues to be directed at the wrong target. It is not the Tories, in particular, who make a mockery of Scotland’s democracy. It is the Union. By focusing on the Tories, the SNP risks giving the impression that things might somehow be better if British Labour was in power at Westminster. The reality is that, while things might be different in certain respects, the Union would remain.

It is not what one or other of the British parties does with the power afforded them by the Union that is problematic for democracy, but the fact that the Union affords them that power. It is the Union that mocks Scotland’s democracy.

Of course, there are reasons enough to detest the Tories. But even in a world where Tory policies weren’t abhorrent, democracy must abhor the fact that those policies can be imposed on Scotland regardless of the will of Scotland’s people. Back in the real world where Tory policies are abhorrent, it is the fact that Tory governments can be imposed on Scotland that makes a mockery of our democracy. The Union is always the problem.

Even during those relatively rare periods when Scotland actually gets the the Westminster government that its people vote for, our democracy is mocked by the fact that this is no more than a coincidence. Scotland’s votes count only when, and on condition that, England agrees. The Union allows Scotland to make democratic choices. But the Union only allows those choices to be effective when they are the same as the choices made by England. The Union does that. Not the Tories.

The focus on Brexit also seems wrong. In the first place, it represents only a particular instance of Scotland’s democratic will being treated with contempt. The insistence that Scotland will not be allowed to exercise its right of self determination is every bit as offensive to democratic sensibilities.

And why would anybody imagine that things might have played out differently had there been a British Labour government in London? Brexit is a product of the British political system. The British Labour and Unionist Party is a component of that system in exactly the same way that the British Conservative and Unionist Party is. The forces which are driving Brexit would have acted on a British Labour government just as they have acted on a Tory one. The detail might have differed – the names, the faces, the rationalisations. The ultimate result would have been the same.

If it wasn’t one British government, it’d be another British government. It is wasn’t Brexit, it’d be something else. If it wasn’t now, it’d be later.

The common thread in all of this is the Union. The Tories and Brexit may be easier targets for the SNP. But unless and until people clearly understand that these are merely proxies for the Union then they may be left thinking that Scotland’s democracy could be rescued by making cosmetic changes to the British government and/or by the calamitous Brexit project being abandoned.

It is surely time for the SNP to unambiguously identify the Union as the the true blight on Scotland. The only way to ensure that our democracy isn’t turned into a mockery is to #DissolveTheUnion as a matter of the utmost urgency.



If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence movement.

Donate with PayPalDonate with Pingit

The BBC won’t change

Good to see the SNP taking a more robust position on the British media. It won’t make any difference, of course. The BBC is part of the British establishment. It is the voice of the ruling elite. It would be folly to imagine that voice might serve anything other than the interests of the ruling elite.

Even if there is an Ofcom investigation, and even if the BBC is found to have breached any law, regulation or code of conduct, it will not change. Even if it is ruled that the BBC has been wilfully dishonest, it will not change. It will not change because it cannot change. It cannot change because it is part of the British establishment. The BBC can change only if and to the extent that the British establishment changes.

Right now, the entire British state is in full defensive mode. Other, perhaps, than in time of war, the British establishment has never been more resistant to change. At such times, the tendency is to look backwards. To cling to the past. To hold to a standard based on a mythical golden age. Any more realistic standard is just too much of a challenge. The British establishment is not going to change. So the British media are not going to change.

In truth, the fundamental nature of the British state has not changed in more than three centuries. There has been no revolution such as is required to destroy and replace the ruling elite. All that has changed are the methods by which that ruling elite maintains its structures of power, privilege and patronage. And even that boils down to the one thing – manipulation. The British establishment has grown more efficient at manipulating people. It has improved the apparatus by which public perceptions are managed. The British propaganda machine is second to none. And better than most because it has had such a long period of uninterrupted development serving the same purpose. Serving the same ruling elite.

This machinery of manipulation is now so deeply entrenched and woven into British society as to have become all but invisible and undetectable. The disinformation, distortion and dishonesty of the British media tend not to be seen as such by those who identify as British because it is so much part of the culture in which they have been embedded all their lives and generation after generation.

Even those who operate this machinery of manipulation are not necessarily fully aware that what they are doing is propaganda. It is entirely possible that the people responsible for BBC Question Time genuinely believe they are doing an excellent job. They believe they are presenting the truth because they have never questioned the truth they are presenting. They have never learned to question it. Their capacity for questioning has been excised. The manipulators are effective because they themselves are products of the machinery of manipulation.

The BBC will not change. The British media will not change. Only we can change. People can recover the capacity to question. They can become aware of the machinery of manipulation and its methods. And, being aware, they can be resistant to its effects. They may even break the machinery.

So, it’s good that Keith Brown is publicly denouncing the BBC. Not because it will bring about change in the corporation, but because it may prompt a few more people to question the version of the truth that is being fed to them.


If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.

donate with paypal

donate with pingit

Know your enemy!

This is superb stuff from Keith Brown. My only criticism is that he reserves his condemnation for the Tories when British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) has been just as silent and complacent in the face of the British government’s “malign neglect” of Scotland’s voice.

Are British Labour MPs from Scottish constituencies incensed by the Scottish Government being excluded from the Brexit negotiations? I see no sign of it! Are British Labour MSPs loudly protesting the British political elite’s calculated contempt for Scotland’s people and democratic institutions? Not that I’ve heard! Is Richard Leonard taking to his feet at FMQ’s to angrily denounce the British state’s “malign neglect” of Scotland and demand to know what the First Minister intends to do in response? Not a bit of it!

It is a mistake to identify the democratic deficit exclusively with the Tories. The root of Scotland’s problem lies, not with a political party, but with an ideology which is common to all the British parties – British Nationalism.

The present Tory administration in London may be an affront to rationality and basic human decency, but it is the Union which is the massive insult to democracy. The Union which both those Tories AND British Labour are determined to preserve at any cost to Scotland.

By all means, be outraged by the callous inhumanity, catastrophic incompetence and dumb hubris of the Tories. But know that it is the Union which empowers them to impose their malignant ideology on Scotland. And know that, so long as British Labour in Scotland gives its first loyalty to the Union and the British state, they have no more to offer Scotland than the Tories.


If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.

donate with paypal

donate with pingit

Gathering our strength


The Gathering worked like a precision machine building itself out of a confusing array of disparate bits gathered from across the geographic and social length and breadth of Scotland.

I wrote the above after the first National Yes Registry Gathering back in May. I think you can tell from my comments that I was greatly impressed and enthused by an event which brought together hundreds of Yes activists in Stirling’s Albert Hall to discuss matters such as organising and funding the movement; currency and national debt; voting systems; the economy; a written constitution and, of course, campaigning in a new independence referendum.

I am now looking forward to the second such event – Gathering 2 – which takes place on Saturday 24 November. The venue, once again, is the Albert Hall, Stirling and registration is from 09:00. Tickets for the full-day event cost £14 and can be obtained from Eventbrite.

I cannot stress enough how important these events are to the Yes movement and the cause of independence. Our strength lies, not in great wealth or charismatic leadership, but in grassroots numbers and our ability to find leadership where and when it is required. To maximise this strength, we must develop powerful networks which allow us to tap into the skills of individuals and the resources of groups and use the collective power of the Yes movement to greatest effect. The movement must organise in order to campaign. The Gatherings are a highly effective way to network and organise.

But Gathering 2 is special for another reason. As you will be aware, the SNP has been seeking to consult as widely as possible on the Sustainable Growth Commission Report. To this end, the party held a series of National Assemblies for the purpose of consultation among members of the SNP. But the party was always determined to widen this consultation and Depute Leader Keith Brown MSP has joined with National Yes Registry with the aim of establishing a framework for engaging as fully as possible with the Yes movement. As Gathering 2 organiser Janey MacDonald says,

This is the very first grassroots-run consultation to be officially sanctioned by any Scottish party of government. It’s a historic moment for Yes, and underlines how essential it is that as many of our movement take part in the Gathering as possible, to maximise the legitimacy of this unique opportunity and directly influence power. Come and add your voice.

This is no exaggeration. Gathering 2 promises to be a transformational exercise for both the Yes movement and for the SNP. It is emblematic of the distinctive political culture that we are developing in Scotland. This is how we want, and intend, to do politics. This is democracy in action. The Yes movement has, for some time now, been reaching out to the SNP as its de facto political arm. This cooperation between the party and National Yes Registry represents the SNP’s positive and constructive response.It is no exaggeration at all to say that this changes everything. And you can be part of this change. You can be there as history is made. You can help shape that history.

Which still leaves us with a campaign to prepare for the moment when Nicola Sturgeon initiates the final phase of the project to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. At Gathering 2 you will not only have the opportunity to help set parameters for the official grassroots’ consultation on the Sustainable Growth Commission Report, you will also see the launch of the newly-completed IndyApp 2.0 and be able to participate in a range of seminars and discussions. Most notably, perhaps, on the ‘hot topic’ of reframing.

Keith Brown himself will be attending Gathering 2 along with Sustainable Growth Commission Report authors Jim Mather & Roger Mullin, who will give a short presentation and be available to answer questions and take points from the various working groups.

In addition, there will be a seminar on reframing led by recognised experts Bill Mills and Dr. June Maxwell – with ample opportunity to discuss and learn about this fascinating subject.

But the most important people at Gathering 2 will be the grassroots Yes activists who are prepared to give of their time and talents to make all of this work. I urge you to attend and participate if you possibly can. You will be contributing to a uniquely important exercise in policy consultation. You will be helping to create the campaign which will lead to the restoration of Scotland’s independence. And you will also enjoy a most inspiring and rewarding experience.


If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.

donate with paypal

donate with pingit