Selective blindness

Few, if any, are taken in by Kezia Dugdale’s pointless posturing. Her talk of a ‘new Act of Union’ is nothing more than a transparent ploy to try and position British Labour in Scotland (BLiS) somewhere between the SNP’s positive and aspirational plans to bring Scotland’s government home and the jingoistic British nationalism espoused by the British Tories in Scotland. Having been beaten to the title of ‘Queen of the Britnats’ by Ruth Davidson, Dugdale is now desperately flailing around looking for a distinctive constitutional policy.

Brian Wilson is hardly the first or only one to note the woeful failure of this project. What Dugdale is proposing is, not a solution or a settlement, but a call for yet another constitutional talking-shop with a remit to preserve the union at any cost.

Neither is Wilson being particularly perspicacious when he observes the distinct lack of enthusiasm for an umpteenth ‘Constitutional Convention’. Not even the rest of BLiS is able to warm to the idea. And they are normally very keen on anything that might kick the constitutional question into the long grass for a while.

What is striking about Brian Wilson’s analysis is the fact that, while he sees the asymmetry problem in relation to a federal arrangement, he remains stubbornly blind to the deleterious effect on Scotland’s democracy of this same gross imbalance of power in the context of the current constitutional settlement. Stubbornly blind, or complacently content to accept the glaring democratic deficit in the name of preserving the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state.

There is a hypocrisy in Brian Wilson’s attitude which will not be unfamiliar to observers of British nationalism.

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In defence of Sadiq Khan

sk_recordLet’s cut Sadiq Khan some slack. In the first place, he is a London politician. Almost by definition, he is completely ignorant of Scottish politics. All he knows is what is fed to him by the British media. It would, therefore, be perfectly legitimate to say that he knows less than nothing. Because, to whatever limited extent he may have taken the slightest interest in Scotland, it is probable that he has been exposed only to the grotesque caricature presented by a journalistic clique that speaks only for the British establishment.

As if that wasn’t recipe enough for the embarrassing gaffe in which Khan basically branded half the Scottish electorate ‘racist’, bear in mind that he had ventured north from his London fastness at the invitation of British Labour in Scotland (BLiS). We have to assume that he was briefed by his hosts. Perhaps by the likes of Anas Sarwar. Which could hardly do other than add to his ignorance and would certainly help to explain the intemperate nature of his remarks. The combination of media misinformation and “Scottish Labour’s” bilious, intellect-crippling resentment of the SNP was always going to prove fatal to Mr Khan’s credibility, integrity and dignity.

Or maybe Sadiq Khan wasn’t briefed at all. Which would be a testament to the abysmal political ineptitude of BLiS.

gc_tweetEither way, Sadiq Khan truly knows not whereof he speaks. We might opine that he would, therefore, have been better advised to remain silent. But this fails to recognise that the ignorance which he exhibited extended to a perfect unawareness of his own ignorance. He assumed that he knew all he needed to know. It’s only Scotland, after all.

It may even be that Sadiq Khan has done us a favour; albeit unwittingly and inadvertently. His foolish remarks have served to remind everybody of the generalised ignorance of British politicians who presume to pontificate on Scotland’s politics. Something last demonstrated during the first independence referendum campaign. And the reaction provoked by his obnoxious comments has helped to throw a spotlight on the true inclusive nature of Scotland’s independence movement, with messages like the one above flooding social media.

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Still bitter together

kezia_dugdaleKezia Dugdale isn’t the only one who hasn’t a clue who might front the effort to deny the sovereignty of Scotland’s people in the next independence referendum campaign. That’s one that nobody can figure out. But Dugdale’s rhetoric leaves the strong impression that she is very jealous of Ruth Davidson’s success in becoming the pudding face and strident voice of British nationalism in Scotland. Kezia cannot conceal her bitter disappointment at not being crowned ‘Queen of the Britnats’. A role which is enfolded in the arrogant sense entitlement that continues to envelope British Labour in Scotland no matter how often and how explicitly the electorate remind them that they are actually entitled to nothing.

One thing is clear, however. In the referendum which is happening regardless of Dugdale’s desperate-sounding insistence, British Labour in Scotland will not be openly campaigning with the other British parties. Where previously they unabashedly stood shoulder-to-shoulder with their Tory allies, they will now be working behind the scenes with them and other even more dubious British nationalist organisations.

Let’s not be fooled! Kezia Dugdale’s distancing herself from Ruth Davidson is a sham. They continue to share the common aim of denying Scotland’s democratic right of self-determination and locking us into the UK regardless of our wishes. When it comes to defending the ruling elites of the British state, they are as one. Both subscribe with equal fervour to the dogma of ‘The Union At Any Cost’.

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Two battles

being_becomingI have long maintained that we actually have two campaigns to fight. there is, obviously, the campaign to bring Scotland’s government home. But before we can do that we have to win the battle to affirm and defend our right of self-determination.

There can be no doubt that the British establishment fears a new independence referendum. They would prefer to see Scotland locked into the UK with no democratic recourse. Scotland is markedly different to the rest of the UK. We have developed a distinct political culture. Few are foolish enough to deny this now. And this difference is a threat. It challenges the assertion that there is ‘no other way’ – no alternative to the callous expediency and arrogant ineptitude of Tory Britain. No politics except the elitist, nativist, exceptionalist xenophobia of hard-right British nationalism.

If the British establishment cannot prevent a new independence referendum, they will seek to control it and manipulate it to serve their malign purposes.

We must oppose these efforts. We must guard our democratic rights, or they will be taken from us. This is not a pillow-fight. We are up against the might of a British state with a long, devious and often bloody history of jealously grasping that which it regards as its property.

Only strong, smart political leadership can be effective in these circumstances. As our democracy, our political identity, our national institutions, our public services and the future of our nation are all under threat, Scotland’s elected representatives have never had a more crucial role. It is for each one of us to judge which parties, politicians and candidates for elected office are genuinely committed to serving Scotland’s interests. We must ask who are dedicated to addressing the needs, priorities and aspirations of Scotland’s people. And we must work out how we can best support them.

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The new fight

“…both the Unionist and Nationalist camps are girding themselves for a rematch of 2014.”

British nationalists my be “girding themselves for a rematch”, but rest assured that the “Nationalist camp” is not. The entire Yes movement is very well aware that it is gearing up for a very different campaign in #indyref2.

Better Together/Project Fear never really went away. The British establishment’s anti-Scottish propaganda effort has been unrelenting. There has been no let-up since the campaign to deny the sovereignty won the vote, then had to stand helplessly watching as the SNP and other parts of the independence movement walked away with all the prizes. British nationalists have been venting their bitter, frustrated anger ever since.

But, significantly, they have been doing so using the same comprehensively discredited ‘arguments’ and utterly despicable rhetoric as they deployed during the first independence referendum campaign. They have learned nothing. They have nothing new to say. They are still unable to provide a rational case for Scotland remaining in an anachronistic and evidently dysfunctional union. They still can’t explain why we should accept the government we elected being overruled by a government we rejected.

The independence movement is ready to take the positive, aspirational Yes message to the people of Scotland. Crucially, independence campaigners are now also ready to demolish the unionist case. They are prepared to attack the false prospectus of hard-line unionism in a way that was not deemed appropriate previously. It is the British establishment and the Westminster elite who will be interrogated . It is the status quo that will be under scrutiny. It is the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state that will be forcefully challenged.

The Yes movement has matured. It has profited from experience. It has developed through internal debate. The ruling elites of the British state have every reason to be concerned. We are ready for this new fight. They are not. They will resort to all the tried and tested dirty tricks of imperialist Britannia. And we’re ready for that too.

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A party for England

I was amused by the notion that the argument between left and right was never emotive and fractious. Euan McColm gazing wistfully backwards with rose-tinted view as he pines for the old simplicities and certainties of the British politics he grew comfortable with.

Having said that, he does show signs of at least attempting to come to terms with the a changing political environment. His perspective on Scotland’s political scene is as shallow as ever. But at least he’s caught up with reality enough to contemplate the death of British Labour. Something many (most?) of us accepted as a done deal some time ago.

And what does Euan McColm envision as the kind of party that should fill the vacuum left by the demise of British Labour? What sort of party does he see as fit to fill the niche vacated by British Labour? I suspect he would be sorely reluctant to admit it, but what he describes in this regard sounds very much like what those with an awareness of Scottish politics would recognise as the Scottish National Party. The real SNP, that is. Not the grotesque caricature favoured by British nationalists.

Some of us having being saying for years that what England needs is its own equivalent of the party which has won the respect and support of Scotland’s electorate. Looking at the state of England’s politics it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that our southern neighbours would benefit greatly from a large injection of the SNP’s trademark principled pragmatism.

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Beware the wolf in sheep’s clothing!

Suppose someone were to tell you that, in the coming local elections, there would be people going around wearing Yes badges but urging folk to vote for a unionist party. What would your reaction be? What would your attitude be to a group portraying itself as being pro-independence whilst actively campaigning on behalf of a party that is vehemently opposed to independence?

Would you immediately assume that this was the work of British nationalists stooping to new depths of unprincipled behaviour? Would you be appalled, if unsurprised that the wolves of hard-line unionism would resort to draping themselves in the sheep’s clothing of the Yes movement in an effort to dupe people into voting for candidates whose party is absolutely committed to the preservation of the union at any cost?

How much more shocked might you be were you to discover that, rather than some devious ploy dreamt up by the union flag-wrapped fanatics of Scotland in Union, the plan to tout votes for unionist candidates whilst posing as independence supporters is actually the work of one of the groups that was at the very heart of the Yes movement during the first referendum campaign?

It is entirely possible that this plan is not motivated by malice. It need not be that this is a case of some faction adopting the independence label as some kind of marketing device by which to further personal ambitions and partisan agendas. It may well be that those responsible genuinely believe it is possible to abstract the independence campaign from council and parliamentary elections and the rest of Scottish politics. It may be that they are naive enough to suppose the campaign for independence can be isolated from ‘normal’ politics. That it can be put into some kind of quarantined category to be addressed separately as and when expedient.

This is, of course, the most abysmal folly. Politics, like history, is a continuing process, and not a series of discrete events. Where we are right now in terms of the fight to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status is at the end of a line which can be traced unbroken back to the Acts of Union and beyond. That line may be erratic. It may be confused by branches and loops. It may grow fainter the further back we go. But it is unbroken.

At a more manageable scale, we can draw a line from a more recent starting point, say the 2007 Holyrood election, to the present day and we will find that this line passes through every political event of any significance along the way. It leads inexorably to the 2011 SNP majority government; the first independence referendum; the SNP landslide in 2015 UK general election, right up to the EU referendum and its aftermath. Everything is connected. Nothing exists in isolation. To pretend that any one part of the tide of political developments is irrelevant to any other part is to deny something akin to an iron law of nature.

Understanding the nature of the relationships is as important as acknowledging the existence of those relationships. The process is dynamic. Relationships are not fixed. It may previously have been possible to argue that local elections are ‘different’. That their relationship to the rest of the political process was marked by particular characteristics that made them some kind of exception. Special rules applied. But it is nonsensical to suppose that, while everything else in the political sphere is changing – often in extraordinary ways – the status of local elections somehow remains fixed and immutable.

The plan to campaign on behalf of the parties of the British establishment while claiming to represent the campaign for independence is not – or, at least, is unlikely to be – motivated by any purpose to undermine the independence movement. It is explained, rather, by an abject failure to appreciate the context in which the 2017 local elections are happening. It’s a similar kind of fantasy politics to that which lay behind the RISE ‘tactical voting’ nonsense during the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.

We are talking here about people who genuinely believe that it is possible to treat elections and the independence campaign as two entirely distinct strands of political activity. Strands which do not meet, or overlap, or impact one another in any way. They quite sincerely suppose that they can campaign for the union in elections without this having any effect on the independence campaign. They really seem to think they can fly the banner of the Scottish independence movement when that is convenient, then drop that banner in favour of their old British party allegiances when it comes to elections.

They reckon it’s that it’s OK to go around telling people that they’re pro-independence while trying to elect politicians who would sell their grandchildren into slavery in order to preserve the union.

They simply don’t understand the realpolitik of our situation? They actually believe people can afford to indulge their personal agendas and partisan allegiances and it’ll all work out fine in the end because, deep down inside, they mean well?


This is down to a bare-knuckle fight. The British state is a cornered beast. We saw how vicious and unprincipled they were in the first referendum campaign. AND THAT’S WHEN THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE GOING TO WIN EASILY! We simply can’t afford any weakness now.

And, make no mistake, anything less than a massive surge in favour of the SNP in the local elections will be loudly and interminably hailed by the British parties and their allies in the media as a collapse in support for independence. This would severely weaken Nicola Sturgeon’s hand when seeking to secure a second independence referendum. Perhaps to the extent that Westminster might be able to rationalise refusal of a Section 30 Order. Or allow the UK Government to claim control of the process. Which would, of course, be even more disastrous than blocking the referendum altogether.

At the very least, one or more of the British parties would be able to assert that it was OK to vote for them even if you want independence because this has been endorsed by a leading group within the Yes movement.

There are always consequences to any action. Failure to take due account of those consequences, or insistence on remaining stubbornly blind to them, is just plain irresponsible.

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