A post from the Yours for Scotland regular columnist Mia.
ON WHAT SIDE ARE YOU?
For 6.5 years, the SNP has blown hot and cold on independence supporters. We are beyond frustrated with their excuses. We are bored with their platitudes and cries of not having sufficient powers despite holding the power to end the union.
Since June 2016 we are being tortured by an SNP leadership happy to pocket our votes but who point blank refuses to give us the chance to vote for independence, being this in the form of a referendum or a plebiscite election. This despite having had more referendum mandates than fingers to count them with and as much as five elections they could have chosen from.
This SNP leadership has already undemocratically allowed our mandate from 2016 to expire. 6 years after we issued that mandate and still looks like legislation for the referendum is not in place yet. If this was meant to be a joke, it isn’t funny.
This SNP leadership has forced us to wait for a Brexit we never gave consent to. We have been forced to wait for the unravelling of England’s negotiations with the EU when, despite having some of the largest majorities of pro indy MPs in Westminster and despite some of Scotland’s assets being offered as the biggest bargains in those negotiations, we were refused the opportunity to even have a say.
We have been refused a vote for independence with all manner of excuses that never seem to have been an obstacle for any other country in the world to conduct a democratic vote. Despite having us contributing to a fundraiser for a referendum years ago and getting600,000 pounds with it, this party has refused to start any serious pro-indy campaign to channel the yes movement’s energy and enthusiasm towards increasing support for independence. Instead is breaking its momentum by throwing us towards confusion and despair.
We have seen some pretend campaign attempts, but for as long as this leadership does not invigorate those campaigns with a date for the vote, they are a waste of time. How can you ever convince anyone things are going to improve if despite giving almost all our seats to pro-independence MPs and MSPs, absolutely nothing moves forward?
Not giving a defined date for a vote is setting any independence campaign to fail. You can never manage a project successfully unless you give it a deadline. A testament of that is how this leadership has wasted our 2016 referendum mandate and every majority since May 2015. They left successive tory governments to be the only drivers to increase pro-indy support, they watched support for yes surpass 50% several times and let it fall again because the SNP leadership chooses to do nothing to boost that support and an awful lot to deflate it. Such flawed strategy can only be seen as pulling failures from the jaws of success.
It is like the party under this leadership has given up on Scotland’s independence, but for some reason, they still need us to believe they are going for it.
The SNP behaviour in the last few years seems more like an attempt to bring the yes momentum to a complete halt and to break the soul of yes supporters so they abandon all hopes for independence, than to actually pursue independence. In a really bizarre turn of events, the SNP leadership actively removed the wheels of the SNP biggest ever predicted MP majorities before we even had the opportunity to vote for them. They did this by suggesting before every election that a vote for the party of independence was no longer a vote for independence.
Such action has only served to preserve the status quo. You may be forgiven for making that mistake once, but five times? That this was ever poor strategic decision making is no longer credible. There has been far too many opportunities (and years) to change course and mend the error. Yet, we are still on course of achieving nothing.
The party may have had an excuse to go soft on independence immediately after indyref 2014, but if you are really a party of independence, and you believe independence is the best for Scotland as we all thought the SNP did, the minute it was known the SNP was on course to win a colossal majority in Westminster, which was at least in March 2015, the narrative should have immediately changed towards independence. That is what any average strategist pursuing independence would have done.
The day England MPs trashed the idea of full fiscal autonomy for Scotland, and demonstrated that even having all our seats taken by pro-indy MPs would change absolutely nothing in that UK parliament, should have marked the point in history where either that majority was used to end the union leaving England’s parliament to England, or the party reverted to its original policy under which every single parliamentary election would become a plebiscite on independence, starting with the one in 2016.
We could have voted already for independence in the Holyrood elections in 2016 and 2021 and in the GEs 2017 and 2019. Instead, this leadership brings us with every election back to square one.
Unbelievably, today we find ourselves at the exact same point we were in March 2015. In the last few days it was announced, as it was a greatest thing ever, that the SNP is on course to win even more MPs in the next GE than they have today. Well, Whoopie Doo. 6.5 wasted years tell us that the SNP winning even all our seats will only be good thing if that election is declared a plebiscite on independence and the leadership actually delivers independence. Otherwise, voting for them will be as much a waste of our time as it has been for the previous 5 times.
If a vote for the party of independence, is not a vote for independence, what the hell is it for? A vote for the status quo that dragged us out of the EU against our will and that stole our powers? We don’t need the SNP for that, thank you.
Nothing that this leadership has done or said makes any sense at all unless you see them as a party that no longer pursues independence and instead it pursues something else. Then things start to make a lot of sense.
In summer 2020 senior members of the SNP turned on their own ranks, calling racists to yes supporters who were asking for the border with England to be temporarily closed. They wanted to protect the Scottish people by preventing the entry of new virus variants and their spread on the Scottish population. Only three years previously, we had the then Mayor of London, a Labour man, suggesting in a ill-advised speech that being a Scottish nationalist was akin to being a racist. There are tons of propaganda out there from British nationalists desperate to conflate support for independence with racism against the English people. Just like the words antisemitism and transphobia are misused to shut dissent in the political discourse, the anti-English racism card has been misused since 2014 by the British nationalists types to dishonestly deter the unconvinced from moving to yes.
If the SNP has begun to adopt labour’s and British nationalists bottom of the barrel tactics to deter yes supporters, it might be a symptom that the SNP is operating far too close to labour and does no longer remember on what side of the argument it was meant to be nor what it was meant to pursue.
Besides this, the optics of such reaction were confusing to say the least. They appeared to be suggesting that it was far more important for them to keep Scotland and England united at all costs than protecting the lives of the Scottish people. This is what you would expect from a party like labour. But it was diametrically opposed to what you would expect to hear from a nationalist party pursuing independence. You would expect a nationalist party to jump at the opportunity of flexing the muscles of country’s sovereignty and grab from the hands of the foreign power the control of the country’s borders. You expect a nationalist leader to push the boundaries of autonomy of the country outwards, not inwards as this situation was.
It felt like psychological taunting, exactly as watching woman’s rights being eroded by the SNP while it turns against its own ranks to force compliance.
This display of contempt for supporters makes one wonder if somehow the SNP feels their job has been done and their aim as party has been achieved, so they do no longer care if it alienates and divides its voting base. SNP MPs behaving with such complacency for the status quo despite having in their hand the power to vacate those seats and revert the vote cast by Scotland’s MPs in 1706, gives you the unpleasant feeling that they ceased to pursue independence from the moment they had the opportunity to revert that historical vote, which was the 9th May 2015. What could have possibly happened that day that transformed our 56 pro-indy lions and MSPs into innocuous status-quo champions?
It is incongruences like those described above and the party’s apparent giving up the ghost of independence what brings back to mind Labour politicians’ past comments like this:
“We need to kill off the nationalists in Scotland and regain that great country.”
This comment was included in the speech to a Labour Conference in 2018 by the then Labour’s Chairman. The person delivering the speech never actually meant to “kill” nationalists literally, of course, but what he was meaning was to find a way to end the yes movement and revert the support for independence.
Looking at the way the SNP has behaved since 2015, I have been actually wondering more often than not if the powers that be might have found a way to bring the SNP to heel and catch it in the UK establishment trap in such a successful way that they got them now trying to “killoff” (metaphorically speaking) the yes movement’s demands for independence, to help Labour “regain” control of Scotland’s seats.
There is an awful lot of talk of the “revival of Labour” in Scotland in some press quarters. In fact, they have been talking about it since the SNP won for first time a Holyrood election, but never seems to materialise.
I do not think this urgency for resurrecting labour in Scotland is just about Labour winning back a few Westminster seats. I think it is really about resurrecting England’s bipartite political model in Scotland. That model started to disintegrate the day Mr Salmond entered Holyrood triumphant commanding the first minority SNP government. The day England MPs reneged on the vow and trashed the Sewel convention, the model entered free fall.
Why could be so important for the powers that be to rebuild England’s bipartite political model in Scotland? I can see 4 reasons:
1) Because they can only stop independence if they remove from Scotland’s politics any political partywilling to give Scotland a vote on a plebiscite election
.2) Because if it becomes obvious both countries are politically too different, there is no longer a justification to keep the union.
3) Because labour and tory parties are so close that one cannot function without the other. You can only talk today about a “left” and a “right” if labour and Tories are standing side by side. If one goes down, the other one follows. That is why I think in 2015 all three unionist parties lost all but one seat each.
Mr Salmond’ SNP substituted England’s bipartite model (left and right) for another one where the divide is between parties who pursue independence and those that don’t. It is because of this that the tiny differences to the right or left between the three England parties are meaningless in Scotland’s context. This undermines the union every single day, which is a problem for those trying to secure international trade agreements and keep the image of being a stable world power.
4) Without Labour’s “revival” in Scotland the whole bipartite system in England is at risk. England is a tory country. Tory corruption is protected by allowing every now and then a “labour” government to contain the electorate’s protest vote and to avoid making so obvious the bipartite model in England is really a one party system where labour enables rather than opposes tories. If labour is no longer seen by the English voters as capable to form government or a vehicle for their protest vote, an anti-establishment party could emerge to fill the very large vacuum tories and labour are leaving at the left. The corrupt system that maintains the elites in control with this bipartite model would be over in a matter of minutes. Do you remember the carnage UKIP did in England in so little time? Well, and those were tories hiding behind a purple flag. Imagine if all those hundreds of thousands members disenfranchised after the Blairites took over their party were to form an alternative one. England’s left hasn’t gone anywhere. The powers that be have just managed to silence them, for now.
I cannot say that in the last few years I have seen anything from the actions of the SNP that convinces me this party has not taken over Labour’s role: the mop that contains the flood of the protest vote. The apparently misplaced enthusiasm of the SNP for holding more general elections when, by not declaring them as plebiscites on independence they become tools to preserve the status quo, adds fuel to those doubts.
The complacency the SNP is displaying towards England’s governments and England MP’s helping themselves to our powers, feels as if we are being forced back to a time when Scotland still saw devolution as sustainable autonomy instead of a deceptive strategy to keep England MPs in control of our powers.
If the people of Scotland were content with devolution and being ruled by the governments England chooses,we would have voted Labour. But we haven’t. 2015 was when we were told for first time that voting SNP was not voting for independence, and when this embracement of full fiscal responsibility started. The last thing we need is labour to make a comeback in Scotland reincarnated as a rebranded SNP that, after it has crushed our hopes for independence and amused itself enough wasting our majorities, ditches independence as its main pursuit, without bothering to change its constitution, and instead champions a refurbished version of Gordon Brown’s Devo Max to the Max.
So what is it really that this SNP leadership is pursuing, the end of the union, some form of augmented devolution to preserve the status quo or they are just using SNP MPs to keep Scotland’s Westminster seats warm until they have to vacate them in preparation for that much trumpeted Labour revival?
Mia is calling on the SNP to be upfront and honest about their future proposals. This against a background of growing concern about the lack of progress. Distrust is growing and without some transparency and honesty that can only continue.
I am, as always
Yours for Scotland
BEAT THE CENSORS
Sadly some sites had given up on being pro Indy sites and have decided to become merely pro SNP sites where any criticism of the Party Leader or opposition to the latest policy extremes, results in censorship being applied. This, in the rather over optimistic belief that this will suppress public discussion on such topics. My regular readers have expertly worked out that by regularly sharing articles on this site defeats that censorship and makes it all rather pointless. I really do appreciate such support and free speech in Scotland is remaining unaffected by their juvenile censorship. Indeed it is has become a symptom of weakness and guilt. Quite encouraging really.
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