Neither grit nor gumption

It is clear from the comments on this article (Corbyn to be quizzed over next indyref as he begins whirlwind Scottish tour) that I am far from being the only one who is utterly baffled by Nicola Sturgeon’s position. She concedes that the UK Government has the authority to disallow an independence referendum, but demands that they refrain from exercising that authority. Instead of maintaining that the requirement for a Section 30 order is illegal and unconstitutional, she insists that it is, in fact, the only ‘legal and constitutional’ process, but claims that it would be undemocratic for the UK Government to utilise the authority that the process affords it.

I just don’t get it! I’ve tried a dozen ways of putting into words what the First Minister’s position is, and there is no way that it makes any sense. It is certainly possible for something to be both lawful and undemocratic. But to say that something is constitutionally legitimate but undemocratic seems like an obvious contradiction in terms.

How can authority be democratic, but exercise of that authority not? Surely if acting on the authority is contrary to the principles of democracy, then the authority itself must be likewise.

Ruth Wishart wrote recently about how she has come to abhor the word “allow” precisely because of its use in the context of a new independence referendum. I suspect she will be as offended as I am at being told that “Jeremy Corbyn will be under pressure to say when exactly he will allow a second independence referendum”. Not, you will note, under pressure to explain what makes him suppose he has the authority to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination. Not under pressure to explain why the exercise of Scotland’s right of self-determination should require his consent. Merely under pressure to say when he might give that gracious consent.

Of course, were he asked to justify his presumption, Corbyn need only refer to the words of Scotland’s First Minister, who has repeatedly conceded that authority. It’s hard to imagine anyone in the Scottish Government or the Scottish media putting him under any kind of pressure to justify, in terms of democratic principles rather than Nicola Sturgeon’s stated position, how anybody might have the power of veto over a nation’s right of self-determination.

Scotland’s political leaders evidently lack the grit and the gmption to challenge the asserted authority of the British state. And, of course, it suits the media to paddle in the shallow waters of trivial questions about when something might happen rather than venture into the deeps of why it is being allowed to happen at all. Why risk the dangerous currents of political controversy when it’s so easy to create a simple but titillating drama out of timing whilst remaining close to the shore of mass entertainment?

It would come as a tremendous shock to all if Corbyn were to specify when he would grant permission for the people of Scotland to exercise our right of self-determination – were he ever in a position to do so. That’s not how the game is played at all. He has to pretend that there is actually a likelihood of him being the British Prime Minister. He has to pretend that he would respect the right of Scotland’s people to decide the constitutional status of our nation. The Media and the politicians have to go along with this pretence. Everybody knows that it’s a sham. Everybody knows that, in the unlikely event of there being a British Labour government after the election, Corbyn will be every bit as bound by the imperative to preserve the Union as Boris Johnson or anyone else who might be a candidate for the role of British Prime Minister.

In terms of Scotland’s cause, it makes absolutely no difference whatsoever what the outcome of this election is. That outcome will be a British government and a British Prime Minister. And no British government or British Prime Minister is ever going to allow the Union to be put in jeopardy.

Which is why it makes no sense to concede that the British state has the rightful authority to disallow a referendum. Or to allow it only under conditions determined by the British political elite. If you accept that the British state has this authority, and that the authority is ‘legal and constitutional’, what possible grounds can there be to complain when that authority is used?

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A glorious U-turn!

When Ruth Wishart says “we can chuck away that cap and fight for our own future“, is she joining the growing chorus urging that the First Minister abandon her commitment to the Section 30 process and instead dedicate herself to a referendum entirely made and managed in Scotland? If so, her voice is a welcome and very powerful addition to that chorus.

Might we hope that others will follow suit? I wonder how many people, at all levels in the SNP and across the Yes movement, share the concerns that have been expressed about the Section 30 process but are wary about putting their head above the parapet. I wonder what it would take to instill the intestinal fortitude necessary for them to speak up. I wonder if encouragement from someone of Ruth Wishart’s standing might tip the balance in that regard.

It’s easy enough for me to criticise Nicola Sturgeon’s approach to the constitutional issue. I have neither position nor status in the SNP. I have nothing to lose by asking the awkward questions about the Scottish Government’s strategy. I am free to think the unthinkable and say the things that many would prefer were left unsaid. My first loyalty is to Scotland’s cause, not to any political party or leader.

For others, it’s not so easy. Because they have a more powerful sense of loyalty to the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon; or because they are bound by collective responsibility; or because it involves their career and ambitions, dissent has a cost for them which it doesn’t have for somebody like myself. I can have some sympathy with their dilemma. I derive no satisfaction from being a dissenting voice. I would much rather I didn’t have to ask those awkward questions and express those concerns. I do it because it needs to be done. And because I can.

I know I’m not alone. I know that many others share my concerns about the Section 30 process. I cannot believe that there are not people in the upper echelons of the party who also see the problems and pitfalls. I expect there are more than a few who are struggling with the dilemma. Do they speak out and face the inevitable accusations of disloyalty as well as the displeasure of the party leadership? Or do they remain silent despite their fears that commitment to the Section 30 process could very well prove to be seriously detrimental to the cause of independence?

If one or two people in positions of significant influence were to express doubts about the Section 30 process it might well open the floodgates. If dissent grows to a level that Nicola Sturgeon can no longer ignore, what then? If she comes under serious pressure to “chuck away that cap and fight for our own future”, how might she respond?

There would seem to be three basic options. She could attempt to face down her critics. She could stick fast to her insistence that the Section 30 process is the only possible route to a new independence referendum and defy anyone to contradict her. At the other extreme, she could threaten to stand down as party leader and/or as First Minister. The former would tend to harden opposition to her approach and make her situation worse. The latter would have repercussions that I prefer not to dwell upon.

The third option is for Nicola Sturgeon to change her approach. If she is unable to address, far less allay, concerns about the Section 30 process – which is, self-evidently, the case – then those concerns must be valid. Being valid, they provide ample justification for declaring that the Section 30 process has been rendered infeasible by the intransigence of the British political elite. Not to mention their duplicity, mendacity, hypocrisy and treachery.

That the Section 30 process will have to be abandoned at some point is beyond doubt. By its very nature, it can only lead to a free and fair referendum with the goodwill, good grace and good faith of the British establishment. It only works if the British government cooperates fully and respectfully to achieve an outcome to which it is implacably opposed.

Moreover, the Section 30 process provides the British political elite with the means to readily prevent the outcome to which it is implacably oppose. Put it all together and it’s plain to see that, not only is the Section 30 process unlikely to work as Nicola Sturgeon hopes, it would be little short of a miracle if it did. There are more and better reasons for rejecting the Section 30 process than for committing to it. It would be to Nicola Sturgeon’s credit if she were to acknowledge those reasons. And the sooner the better.

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Realism and honesty

When I saw the headline Nicola Sturgeon lists demands to Jeremy Corbyn the first word to pop into my head was ‘why’. Why is Nicola Sturgeon making demands of the leader of the British Labour Party? He has no power to deliver on any of those demands. More to the point, he is very unlikely ever to have such power. Recent polling indicates the most likely outcome of the UK general election is a Conservative majority government at Westminster. The British Labour vote looks a lot more like “crumbling” than the British political elite’s determination to prevent a new independence referendum.

The polls can be wrong, of course. But even supposing British Labour did pull of an electoral miracle, the reality is any minority British Labour government that wanted to deliver any of its policies and sustain itself in government would do anything rather than rely on the support of the SNP. The imperative to preserve the Union transcends ideological differences and partisan rivalries that are, in any case, mostly theatrical. We know as a matter of absolute fact that the British parties will collude to thwart Scotland’s independence movement. We know this because they have done so in the recent past.

In theory, the SNP would have “significant influence and significant power” over a minority British Labour government. In practice, even the Tories would contrive to come to their aid if this was what was required to protect their “precious” Union. And the same is true of the Liberal Democrats – who may also have “significant influence and significant power” in the event of a minority government under Jeremy Corbyn.

Nicola Sturgeon observes that,

Jeremy Corbyn is somebody who supports self-determination for literally every other country in the world, it would be quite strange if he didn’t support it for Scotland.

No it wouldn’t! It wouldn’t be strange at all. In the context of British politics, duplicity, hypocrisy and mendacity are perfectly normal. It’s what we expect.

The British Labour Party has been as slippery on the matter of a new independence referendum as on many other issues. Nicola Sturgeon chooses to see this vacillation as opposition to a new referendum “crumbling before our eyes”. But it is at least as likely to be nothing more than reluctance to be as explicit about such opposition as the other British parties. A feeble effort to find a distinct position on the issue. A forlorn attempt to appeal to independence supporting traditional British Labour voters in Scotland whilst avoiding heaping further humiliation on the local chap up there – what’s his name? – Richard something?

But why are we even talking about deals with British Labour when, if the polls are anything like accurate, Nicola Sturgeon will be facing a triumphant Boris Johnson on 13 December? What is her thinking about that scenario?

… this election is a great opportunity for us to show Boris Johnson exactly what we think of such a contemptuous and disrespectful attitude towards Scottish democracy.

Undoubtedly, it is. And undoubtedly we should. We most assuredly must use this election to demonstrate our rejection of imposed British governments and our determination to defend Scotland’s democracy. But let us not be under any illusions! If Boris Johnson – and British politicians in general – are as contemptuous of Scottish democracy as Nicola Sturgeon says, why would they be at all concerned about any message the people of Scotland send via the ballot box?

Nicola Sturgeon says,

… the position Boris Johnson articulated yesterday is not a sensible, serious or sustainable position – that he will block Scottish democracy forever and a day.

As with the comment about Jeremy Corbyn’s support for self-determination above, this fails to recognise the nature of British politics. A position doesn’t have to be “sensible” or “serious” to be totally “sustainable” in the context of British politics. Look at the Mad Brexiteers! If ever there was a position that defied logic and rationality it is the determination to take the UK out of the EU in the absence of any compelling reason; any viable plan; and any credible alternative. For all the self-evident insanity of Brexit, it is happening. An insane position has proven to be perfectly sustainable.

Boris Johnson is not going to back down in the face of Scottish public opinion. There is no reason why he would. The polls suggest a majority approaching 100. With such a majority, he can pretty much do as he pleases. He may well contrive a no-deal Brexit. He will certainly dismiss Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for a Section 30 order.

Nicola Sturgeon notes that,

Nothing Boris Johnson has said in his short time as Prime Minister has turned out to be the case, so perhaps that should give us all hope for the future.

I note that, despite what must be the most disastrous premiership ever, Boris Johnson is still there. The malicious child-clown hasn’t been harmed at all by all those defeats in the House of Commons and the courts. He has come unscathed through numerous scandals. He lies with total impunity. So perhaps that should bid us despair for the future.

This is not intended as an attack on Nicola Sturgeon. Although it will inevitably be portrayed as such by those who have nothing more meaningful to say. All I’m doing is attempting to inject a bit of political reality into the discourse. And, maybe, a bit of honesty into the election campaign.

Asked if she would compromise on the timing of the new independence referendum in order to strike a deal with the British Labour minority government that almost certainly isn’t going to be more than hypothetical, Nicola Sturgeon responded saying that the timescale is “not for Westminster politicians to determine”. The reality is that the Section 30 process to which she has committed means that Westminster politicians can determine the timescale. Committing to the Section 30 process puts that power in the hands of those Westminster politicians. They can drag out negotiations on Edinburgh Agreement 2 for as long as they wish. And even as those negotiations are laboriously conducted, they can implement all manner of measures to hinder or prevent the referendum.

That is the reality. And I see no reason why we should not be honest about it. All it does is prove, as if further proof were needed, that the Union is disastrously detrimental to Scotland. It makes voting for the SNP in this election even more clearly an absolute imperative. Because, bad as the reality may be with a massive vote for the SNP, it will be many times worse without it.

By voting SNP in this UK general election and sending 50+ SNP MPs to Westminster, we at least keep our options open. When reality hits and the fantasy of British goodwill, good grace and good faith evaporates, only such an expression of our determination to defend Scotland’s democracy will sustain Scotland’s cause. It may seem horribly ironic, but is only by voting SNP that we can be prepared for whatever happens when the Section 30 process fails.

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Don’t arm Goliath!

It is easy to understand why Nicola Sturgeon talks about opposition to a new referendum “crumbling”. We are in a UK general election campaign. She has promised to put independence at the heart of the SNP’s effort in this campaign. It is entirely fitting and proper that she should be talking up the potential to advance the fight to restore Scotland’s independence by voting SNP and returning as many SNP MPs as possible. It is only to be expected that she will seek to promote the idea that the the British political elite’s determination to prevent a new independence referendum will “crumble” in the face of the “irresistible” demonstration of the democratic will of the Scottish people that a massive vote for the SNP would represent. Nicola Sturgeon’s rousing rhetoric is absolutely fine. Just so long as she doesn’t entirely believe it herself.

Let’s be clear about one thing – everybody who cares about Scotland is bound by their conscience to vote for their SNP candidate in this election. Scotland’s constitutional claim has, for some years now, been the dominant issue in Scottish politics. But, not since the 2014 referendum has the divide between the two sides in the independence debate been so starkly presented as the issue on which the people of Scotland are voting. All other issues are subsidiary to the constitutional question because all other issues crucially depend on whether the power to decide resides with the people of Scotland or with the British ruling elites.

Assuming you agree that Scotland’s future should be in the hands of Scotland’s people rather than the fumbling paws of British politicians such as Boris Johnson, you must vote SNP. Voting for any of the British parties in Scotland should be unthinkable for anyone who values the fundamental principle of popular sovereignty. If you maintain that the people of Scotland are sovereign, then to vote for any of the British parties is to vote against your own conscience. And to vote against basic good sense.

This election will not decide the independence issue. Nor even the issue of a new referendum. Sending as many as 59 SNP MPs to Westminster will not precipitate a crumbling of the British state’s determination to preserve the Union. This election is not about securing yet another mandate for a new referendum. It is about denying the British political elite a mandate to block a referendum and to proceed with the British Nationalist project to reimpose direct rule from London via the apparatus of the ‘UK Government in Scotland.

No demonstration of the democratic will of Scotland’s people can be sufficient to overcome the British political elite’s resistance to the restoration of Scotland’s independence. The imperative to preserve the Union is too compelling. Even if the SNP took all 59 seats and more than 50% of the vote in a high turnout, the British government and the British parties would refuse to acknowledge this as a valid expression of demand for a new referendum. There will be no buckling. There will be no crumbling of their resolve. For the British state, the imperative to preserve the Union is existential.

For Scotland, the imperative to dissolve the Union is existential. That is why anyone who cares about Scotland must vote SNP in this election. It is not so much about battering down resistance to the people of Scotland exercising their right of self-determination as it is about denying the British political elite a mandate to prevent us exercising that right. Because anything short of a massive victory for the SNP will be deemed such a mandate. Anything less than a landslide for the SNP will be interpreted as affording the British state a licence to do as it will with Scotland – just like the No vote in the 2014 referendum.

Power is finite and relative. Due to the grotesque asymmetry of the Union, voting SNP in huge numbers and sending 50+ SNP MPs to Westminster may not greatly empower Scotland. But failure to do so disproportionately increases the power of the British state over Scotland. Power that will certainly be deployed to Scotland’s severe detriment.

Nicola Sturgeon has chosen to focus on the importance of voting SNP because of what this might achieve. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a positive and honest message. Only SNP MPs put Scotland’s interests above all else. So it stands to reason that the more SNP MPs there are, the better Scotland’s interests will be represented. But the Union means that Scotland’s interests can never be adequately represented no matter how many SNP MPs go to Westminster. But the First Minister could just as honestly and accurately have stressed the need to elect as many SNP MP’s as possible, not for what they might achieve, but for what they will prevent.

Given her preference for a positive message, it is only natural that Nicola Sturgeon will choose to run with the line that voting SNP will provide the David of the independence movement with the sling that brings down the Goliath of the British state. She leaves it to others to point out that the most important thing about voting SNP is that it avoids giving Goliath a mighty club with which to demolish all that Scotland holds dear – and all that we aspire to.

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And another thing

It would have been good to set aside the debate about the Section 30 process for the duration of the election campaign. But that is rather difficult to do when independence is, at least nominally, at the heart of the SNP campaign, and while Nicola Sturgeon continues to talk and Tweet on the topic. Every mention of the Section 30 process serves to remind us of the concerns that have never been addressed and the questions which remain unanswered.

Mention of the Section 30 process can also prompt fresh thinking about it – at least in minds that are not already closed to any thinking at all. When I wrote the original material for the iScot Magazine article. Section 30 is not Scotland’s salvation, I said nothing of my worry that too strong a commitment to this process would rule out other options. In part this was because, at the time the material was written, the First Minister had not yet, to my knowledge, described the Section 30 process as the only ‘legal and constitutional’ way to hold a referendum. I only became fully aware of this new language at the SNP Conference in October when it seemed to be the mot du jour for all SNP ministers, elected representatives and spokespeople.

With this change in language, my worst fears were realised. Not only had the SNP leadership committed to a process which is questionable at best, they had effectively declared any and all possible alternatives ‘illegal and unconstitutional’. Such squandering of options I find incomprehensible. Especially so as there was absolutely no need to do it. The Section 30 process could have been presented as the preferred option. Instead, it has been pronounced the only option. Nobody has yet explained why.

Another thought concerning the Section 30 process occurred to me just recently. Which only proves that, no matter how long and hard you’ve thought about a matter, it’s always possible that there will be something you hadn’t considered. No subject should ever be closed. Your mind should always be open to new thinking on a topic. You’re never done thinking things through. There is always another question to be asked.

Just such a question occurred to me when I was reading some things Nicola Sturgeon had said about refusing her ‘demand’ for a Section 30 order being undemocratic. My habit and practice with any statement from a politician is to figure out where they are trying to point you, and look elsewhere. In this instance, it was obvious that the words were intended to direct us to ponder the democratic legitimacy of a British Prime Minister blocking a referendum for which there is evident public demand and an incontestable mandate. Instead, I chose to reflect on Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘demand’ and the nature of the authority behind it. A question quickly formed in my mind.

What is the difference between the power to demand a Section 30 order and the power to demand recognition of a referendum?

If the First Minister can claim that the mandate she has from the Scottish people and the Scottish Parliament is sufficient authority to demand a Section 30 order and to render refusal of that demand a breach of fundamental democratic principles, why can’t that same authority be sufficient to demand recognition of referendum regardless of a Section 30 order?

It’s the same authority in both cases. The democratic principles and political reality which justify and give weight to the demand for a Section 30 order are precisely the same as the democratic principles and political reality which justify and give weight to the demand that a referendum be recognised.

Where there is both an electoral and a Parliamentary mandate together with significant public demand, a Section 30 order is redundant. Under these circumstances, on condition only that the vote is impeccably democratic, recognition of the referendum’s legitimacy is every bit as obligatory as the granting of a Section 30 order.

It seems that the more one examines the Section 30 process the less satisfactory it becomes. Concerns keep growing even as they are pointedly ignored.

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Wishful thinking

I read Nicola Sturgeon’s Tweet yesterday in which she wonders, with evident scepticism, whether the British media might subject Boris Johnson’s position on a new independence referendum to “serious scrutiny”, and into my head popped that Lerner and Loewe song from the musical My Fair Lady in which the heroine of the piece reflects wistfully on the simple things that would make her life perfect. In my head, and totally without the aid of Spotify or any other music streaming service, I could hear Julie Andrews singing “Wouldn’t it be loverly!” in an accent betokening origins well outside artillery range of Bow Bells.

If memory serves, Eliza Doolittle eventually realised her heart’s desire for a comfy chair, a coal fire and a secure supply of confectionery. I fear Nicola Sturgeon may be asking for far too much if she hopes the British media might ask awkward questions of British politicians. Particularly in the matter of the Union and Scotland’s status within the UK, the British media defer totally to the British establishment. There is more chance of a porcine fly-past to mark Donald Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize than of the British media subjecting Boris Johnson’s stand against a new independence referendum to any serious examination. It’s just not what they do.

Why don’t they do it? Why don’t they interrogate Boris Johnson about the democratic legitimacy of denying Scotland’s right of self determination? After all, it would make great theatre, wouldn’t it? Putting the British Prime Minister on the spot would surely get the kind of unrehearsed reaction that tends to go viral on social media. So, why does this so rarely happen?

The simple explanation – and, therefore, the explanation likely to be the least satisfying – is ‘bias’. That the British media is, generally, pro-Union is doubtless the case. But this is both unsurprising and inadequate to explain why media professionals don’t do what they might be expected to do. It doesn’t explain why journalists so consistently fail to follow journalistic instincts. It doesn’t explain why they so rarely ask the obvious questions. It doesn’t explain why they almost never succumb to the urge to create a spectacle. Is that not the business they’re in?

I’m sure many (most?) journalists would insist that they are not in the business of creating spectacle. I am confident they’d insist that their profession is the noble one of informing the public; discovering and disseminating the facts; speaking truth unto power, or whatever. But that only leaves us wondering why so little of this noble professionalism (or professional nobility?) manifests itself when these champions of the public’s right to know confront British politicians who take highly dubious positions with regard to Scotland’s right of self-determination.

We know what the role of political journalism is supposed to be. Ideally, it contributes to the electorate’s capacity to make informed choices. By providing accurate information and insightful analysis, political journalists help to ensure that political power is, as far as possible, exercised only with the informed consent of the people.

Aye, right! I hear you scoff. And with considerable justification. With exceptions notable for their rarity as much as for their integrity, political journalists are now regarded, less as a resource which interprets political messages for the purpose of improving public understanding, and more as a conduit by which the powerful insinuate their messages into the public consciousness.

There is no one simple explanation as to why interviewers don’t challenge the likes of Boris Johnson when they talk about ‘not allowing’ the people of Scotland to have a referendum. Or when they spout patent nonsense such as the stuff about a ‘once in a generation’ event. High on that list of explanations is the likelihood that it just doesn’t occur to the interviewer, or their bosses, to question any of this. It’s not so much that they are purposefully letting Johnson off the hook, as the fact that they are not even aware that there is a hook.

There is a famous incident in which TV political pundit Andrew Marr says to Noam Chomsky, “Do you think I’m censoring myself now?” and Chomsky retorts, “No, you don’t need to. Otherwise you wouldn’t be sitting in that chair.”

The journalists who get to a position where they have access to senior politicians only get to that position after a career spent immersed in exactly the same culture as those senior politicians. These journalists may not be ideologically aligned with the politicians they interview, but they think alike in ways that run far deeper than political philosophies which are, in any case, only superficially different. Whether they are on the left or on the right they are on a spectrum entirely confined within a shared space of Britishness. A space defined by common perspectives and attitudes which transcend mere political roles. And mere roles within the same British establishment.

The cosy consensus of Westminster-centric British political journalism sits comfortably with the cosy consensus of Westminster-centric British politics. Comfortably enough that it simply doesn’t occur to British political journalists to question an established order in which Westminster is superior in all regards and at all times.

In major news gathering and disseminating organisations such as the BBC, there are people whose role it is to ensure that the awkward questions do get asked. Managers whose task it is to prevent the people at the sharp end falling into bad habits. In any large organisation, the most important thing senior managers have to do is prevent the organisation coming to serve itself rather than the purpose for which it was created. But news and current affairs media in the UK are dominated by organisations where the management has failed in this regard. These organisations’ relationship with news has altered dramatically.

It used to be that news was ‘out there’ waiting to be found. Or, at the very least, waiting to fetched. The role of the news organisation was to go out and get the news. Collect it, if it was just there to be collected. Uncover it, if it was being concealed. Hunt it down, if it was elusive. The job involved bringing news into the organisation so that it could be processed – mediated – for presentation to the public in a comprehensible form.

Now, to a disturbing extent, these organisation have changed from being the mediators of news to being assembly plants for propaganda. News is no longer harvested from the world by highly skilled people. Parcels of pre-processed news are delivered to the news organisation for assembly, packaging and onward transmission to the masses in as unmediated a form as possible. Print and broadcast news and current affairs is no longer created from ingredients like a fine meal, it is bolted together from pre-formed components. The highly skilled people no longer work for the news organisations. They work for the organisations which supply the pre-formed components.

Attributing the grotesquely distorted news and current affairs coverage we get in Scotland to ‘bias’ doesn’t describe the situation at all. In relation to individual journalists, the term ‘bias’ implies a tendency to favour one perspective over another. It can hardly be described as bias if the people involved aren’t even meaningfully aware that there is more than one perspective. Even if they are aware of other perspectives – or the possibility of other perspectives – the journalist can only work with the material they are given. And they are at the public-facing end of a production line which only outputs the news which can be put together using the components supplied.

Asking a journalist to scrutinise Boris Johnson’s position on a new independence referendum may go beyond mere wishful thinking. It may be an impossible dream. Which reminds of of another song.

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Messengers will be shot!

Nicola Sturgeon has a column in The National today.

Today I will join thousands of others in the heart of Glasgow to demand Scotland’s right to choose independence.

The First Minister of Scotland concedes that our right of self-determination is in the gift of the British political elite.

Another election win for the SNP will make the case for this country having the opportunity to decide its own future simply unanswerable.

What makes this mandate different from all those that already exist? What has changed to render “unanswerable” the case that Theresa May demonstrated was answerable by the simple expedient of not answering?

And the National’s rally today is a great chance to show Westminster that Scotland’s voice will not, and cannot, be ignored.

All experience tells us that Scotland’s voice both can and will be ignored. Again, Nicola Sturgeon fails to explain why it should be any different this time.

The question people are now faced with is whether Boris Johnson or the people of Scotland themselves should control this country’s future.

The First Minister of Scotland has declared her intention to acknowledge and validate the authority of the British Prime Minister to “control this country’s future”.

And I am confident that people across the nation will answer that question in a resounding fashion on December 12 by rejecting Johnson and his increasingly extreme right-wing government.

We’ve been rejecting those governments for years. What difference has it made? Why might it be different this time?

This election is Scotland’s chance to escape Brexit and to put our future in our own hands.

Actually, it isn’t. But it’s a great line – so long as you don’t think about it.

I could go on. But what’s the point? Nobody, least of all Nicola Sturgeon, will attempt to address any of these points. Instead, they will condemn and castigate those who not only have the audacity to think rationally about what the First Minister says and does, but the effrontery to give voice to their concerns.

Five years ago, in the aftermath of the 2014 referendum, this is not what I envisaged. I anticipated that lessons would be learned from the first referendum campaign. Following the EU referendum in 2016, my expectation was that there would be a marked change of mindset in the SNP and the Yes movement. Instead, it’s as if nothing that’s happened since 2012 has been taken on board.

Over the past eight years or so, pretty much everything in the political environment has changed – except the mindset of the SNP leadership. Their attitude to the British state has, if anything, grown more deferential. Or, at least, the deference is more explicit. Their approach to the independence campaign hasn’t developed at all. Unless you consider demanding rather than requesting permission to hold a referendum a significant development.

But, as I say, it is futile to speak of such things. Messengers will be shot.

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