Section 30 won’t work

Great argument from Stu Campbell at Wings Over Scotland. Unfortunately, he comes to the wrong conclusion. We don’t need a Plan B. We need a better Plan A.

The problem with a creating a Plan B is that this assumes you’re going to get a second bite at the cherry. The attitudes and behaviour of the British political elite strongly suggest that this is not a safe assumption. We would certainly be wise to proceed as if we anticipated getting only one shot; if for no other reason than to eliminate any residual complacency and replace it with the necessary – and unquestionably warranted – sense of urgency that is currently missing from the Scottish Government’s approach.

What is the common factor in all these electoral calculations which lead to “OUTCOME: NO INDYREF”? Section 30! The problem is not the electoral arithmetic but the Scottish Government’s insistence on adhering to a process which, As WOS has shown, leads in every conceivable, barely conceivable and inconceivable scenario, to “OUTCOME: NO INDYREF” and, therefore, no independence.

Any outcome which doesn’t lead to the Union being dissolved in the very short term provides the British establishment with opportunities to create new and increasingly intractable obstacles to restoring Scotland’s independence. If we don’t get Plan A right, you can just forget the rest of the alphabet.

There is no route to independence through the twisting and shifting pathways created and controlled by the British state for the purpose of protecting and preserving the Union. Quite why anybody would think there might be is a total mystery given that this involves disregarding such a glaring contradiction. If we want independence, we must break the Union. And if we are determined to break the Union then we must be prepared to break the rules imposed in the name of and for the sake of the Union. Why is that not obvious?

There is another common factor in all the scenarios Stu Campbell has prepared. The all lead, not just to “no indyref”, but to the inevitable conclusion that the Section 30 process must fail. And when it fails, we are right back in the position of having to break the rules to break the Union. So why go through all that crap just to end up right back where we are now except with new difficulties to overcome in order to attain our goal?



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Scotland’s has a Parliament

So, our First Minister has at last caught up with those of us in the Yes movement who have been warning for years that Scotland’s democratic institutions are in jeopardy. Or, more likely, she is finally prepared to speak publicly about the likelihood of the Scottish Parliament being ‘suspended’. I find it hard to believe Nicola Sturgeon was oblivious to the threat. But it is easy to understand why, as a senior politician, she might have been reluctant to admit any concerns. It’s not that long since talking about the Scottish Parliament being closed down would have called down a torrent of mockery and condemnation from the British establishment for ‘scaremongering’.

Now, it is those who try to deny even the possibility who open themselves to mockery. It is those who try to dismiss the threat who must be condemned. The threat is real. The threat is imminent.

All of which creates a major problem for the British parties in Scotland. What does Richard Leonard say now? How does Ruth Davidson rationalise Boris Johnson’s unceremonious attack on the British democracy that she holds to be sacrosanct? If anybody was listening to Willie Rennie, what sort of simpering drivel would they hear? How do any of them defend a Union which places Scotland at the mercy of Boris Johnson and whatever form of unthinkable worse that is yet to come?

England has chosen its path. As Stu Campbell points out on Wings Over Scotland

The UK has a democratically-elected government which is currently due to run until the summer of 2022. And that government has a mandate to deliver Brexit, in any form, come what may.

It’s a common cry from Remain-supporting politicians and media alike that Johnson has “no mandate” for no-deal. But all leaving personal opinion aside, it’s simply impossible to support that argument.

Two-and-a-half years ago, the UK parliament voted overwhelmingly – 498 to 114 – to enact Article 50, the mechanism by which a member of the European Union leaves the organisation. The terms of Article 50 are clear, and stipulate a no-deal exit unless a deal is done. The EU has already granted the UK two extensions on the timetable, which have produced absolutely nothing.

Scotland has no right to interfere with the choices made by the people of England. And no capacity to do so even if such interference could be justified. There have been opportunities to stop the Brexit madness and to avoid the hard-right British Nationalist coup currently underway. Voters in England have spurned every chance to choose differently.

Ii is time for the Scottish Government to leave England-as-Britain to its own devices. However noble you may consider the efforts of Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford to have England’s voters draw back from the abyss, it is now time for them to acknowledge that the effort is doomed to fail – because the people of England don’t want it. They want what they’re getting. However anathema it may be to most of us here in Scotland, what is happening in London right now is precisely what the majority of people in /england voted for.

Scotland has made different choices. It is time the Scottish Government focused on ensuring that those choices are honoured.

Many of us realised that the Scottish Parliament’s future started to look perilous in 2007, wth the first (minority) SNP administration. When the voters broke the system to elect a majority SNP government in 2011, the fate of the Scottish Parliament was sealed. The British establishment was only prepared to tolerate devolution so long as the Union was not compromised. It was only a matter of time before they found a way to end the ‘experiment’.

The only way to avoid Scotland’s democratic institutions being dismantled is for the Scottish Parliament to assert its primacy on the basis of its exclusive democratic legitimacy. The Scottish Government must propose that the Scottish Parliament declare itself the sole voice of Scotland’s people and agent their of democratic will. It will then be for the people of Scotland to vote on whether to #DissolveTheUnion in order that Scotland should should be able to choose and follow its own path..



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A jarring disconnect

bbc_union_at_any_costI realise that Alex Salmond is being politic when he says that the situation has “seemingly been resolved“. But, of course, it hasn’t. The Wings Over Scotland YouTube channel may have been restored but, at the time of writing, Peter Curran’s channel has not. To the very limited extent that the process by which these channels were targeted has been explained, it appears that it was the same in both both cases. So, why has one been restored and the other not?

Could it have anything to do with the fact that Wings Over Scotland has a higher public profile? Or is it just another instance of incompetence on the part of BBC management? Did they think, by backing down on Wings Over Scotland, they’d done the minimum necessary to placate an extremely irate public? Or did the just forget about the other channel they’d targeted?

All of which amounts to no more than a wee sampling of the questions that remain to be answered by the BBC. From where I’m standing – and I suspect I’m far from alone in this – two possible explanations present themselves. Either this was a politically motivated action launched by the BBC on its own initiative; or it was a politically motivated action launched by the BBC at the behest of some third party. The circumstances make it impossible to plausibly deny the political motivation. To even attempt such a denial would only further damage what little credibility the BBC retains in Scotland.

The key questions here relate to who within the BBC makes these decisions and on what authority. It is important not to get carried away with conspiracy theories. It seems highly unlikely that there is, within the ranks of BBC bureaucracy, a coordinated and continuing plot to undermine Scotland’s independence campaign. Not least because there is so little reason to believe that there is, within the ranks of BBC bureaucracy, anybody capable of managing such a complex long-term project.

It is, in fact, easier to believe that it is all an accident. At least in the sense that there is no planning of particulars or consideration of consequences. No great conspiracy is necessary to explain the BBC’s behaviour in what we must bear in mind is merely a highly visible example of the kind of political bias that has been so much part of the media landscape in Scotland for so long that the general public had ceased to notice it. It is precisely because people such as Peter Curran and Stu Campbell throw a spotlight on the bias that they have been targeted. And, make no mistake, more would have followed if the BBC and/or the ‘third party’ had got away with it.

This political bias is not – or, at least, is not necessarily – a sign of some carefully orchestrated plan to counter Scotland’s independence movement. Rather, it is a symptom of an ethos in which the structures, systems and processes of the British state are unquestioningly assumed to be the norm. ‘British’ is the standard by which all things are judged. Anything perceived as challenging this unexamined assumption of British superiority is automatically and unthinkingly regarded as being outwith the realm of ‘normal’ politics. The customary rules don’t apply. There is a pervasive attitude that it’s only those uppity Jocks, so it doesn’t matter.

This attitude isn’t confined to the BBC. It infects the entire British establishment. It can be seen in the treatment of SNP MPs at Westminster. It can be seen in the contempt shown by the British political elite for the Scottish Parliament. It can be seen in the way the British parties squatting in the Scottish Parliament constantly seek to denigrate Scotland.

It can be seen in the behaviour of the British media – and the BBC in particular.

Who made the decision to have those two YouTube channels taken down? Almost certainly some anonymous and insignificant BBC functionary. On what authority? None was needed. These sites being something to do with Scottish (non-British) politics, it was simply taken for granted that it would be acceptable, if not expected. Normal constraints and considerations didn’t apply. Such is the ethos that prevails within the BBC.

There is a massive and jarring disconnect here. In Scotland, the concept of independence has been normalised. In the BBC, it never can be. The big question, therefore, is this – how can the BBC possibly serve an audience in Scotland when it is so evidently inherently incapable of relating to that audience?


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Media wars

Wings Over ScotlandThe stuff about the BBC targeting accounts “irrespective of the political views of the infringing YouTube channels” is obvious drivel. But if it’s true that they act on complaints then it would be interesting to know whether the actions against Stu Campbell and Peter Curran were prompted by specific complaints. And even more interesting to discover the source of those complaints.

There is no doubt that the British political elite is seriously concerned about the Yes movement’s continuing dominance in alternative media. A dominance which may even be increasing as production standards improve and as patterns of media consumption change. New technologies are coming online; technical and presentational skills are being developed; funding streams are becoming more reliable, all as the audience for alternative news, analysis and commentary is growing.

As alternative media outlets get better, they get more authoritative. They carry more weight – even as trust in traditional media plummets.

No wonder the British establishment is worried. The old media have long been both its armour and its armoury. They have been the shield protecting the chosen from scrutiny and guilty from accountability. They have been they sword wielded against any who presume to challenge established power. That armour is corroded and cracked. That sword is dull and damaged. The old media simply isn’t as effective as it once was. And the skills required to repair it have been lost to the ravages of corporate ‘rationalisation’.

Power being relative, it stands to reason that, lacking the means to recover the potency of its own propaganda machine, the British establishment will have no choice but to try and diminish the influence of alternative media. The attacks on Stu Campbell and Peter Curran should be viewed in the light of the British state’s imperative to control the flow of information and maintain it’s capacity for manipulating public perceptions.

Shutting down the Wings Over Scotland and Moridura YouTube channels is just the British establishment testing its strength. Once a process is verified and precedents are established, more will follow. As the old media forces falter and fall to the new media guerrillas, the British state mobilises a mercenary army of lawyers.


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