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The following is an excerpt from my latest article for iScot Magazine. You can read the full article, called ‘Car crash’, in the August edition.

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Back in April, when Theresa May called a snap election, she sparked a storm of speculation about her reason for going to the polls some three years early. This was a particularly big deal, because in order to hold a vote on 8 June as intended she would have to circumvent the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. Which she did with an alacrity which made a mockery of the legislation. But she had a working majority in the House of Commons and seemed to be under no particular pressure. Or, at least, none that would explain such a dramatic move. Pundits and punters alike were understandably perplexed.

The justification May gave was some vacuous waffle about the nation needing certainty, stability and strong leadership following the EU referendum. Apparently, there was a need to heal “divisions at Westminster”. Which, itself, seemed a bit odd – not to say ominous – since parliamentary divisions are one of the ways in which the British political system most convincingly imitates a properly functioning democracy.

Not a few of those pundits and punters were surely struck by the disconnect between May’s stated motives and the fact that, if one were looking for a way to create uncertainty and instability while demonstrating weak leadership, calling a snap election would be somewhere near the top of your list.

Then there was the stuff about strengthening her… sorry! the country’s hand in the Brexit negotiations. Which was, and remains, palpable nonsense. The EU negotiates with the UK Government. It doesn’t matter a toss to them what the hue of that administration is, or what the parliamentary arithmetic might be. The government is the government. Voilà, c’est tout! As one can hardly imagine David Davis saying.

The reasons offered for calling this snap election could, if we were being kind, be characterised as implausible. Lacking the necessary generosity of spirit, I’m obliged to describe them as a load of shite.

Read more in the August edition of iScot Magazine.

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Repeating mistakes

This started so well*. But by the third paragraph it began to descend into pompous, woolly-minded nonsense. And it was all downhill from there.

Fallacy number one. Nobody has ever claimed that the independence movement starts and ends with the SNP. Nor has anybody said that the SNP alone will deliver independence. Wouldn’t it be grand if we could bury these straw man arguments forever. But there’s little hope of that. Incredibly, people still think this stuff makes them sound insightful and intelligent.

What people who really are insightful and intelligent have tried to point out is that independence will no be achieved without the SNP. That the SNP is crucial to the whole process. I really don’t know why some people find it so confusing. To say that the SNP is vital to the independence campaign is no more an assertion that it is the whole campaign than saying the spring is a vital part of a clockwork movement is equivalent to saying that it is the entire movement.

Fallacy two is the notion that the British state can be prevented from associating the independence movement with the SNP. The Yes campaign simply doesn’t have the resources to compete with the British state’s vast and powerful propaganda machine. That machine will target the party and its personalities because it is easier to attack them than to attack the principle of independence.

If you’re smart, you turn this to your advantage. If your opponents are identifying the whole movement with the SNP and its leaders – and you’ve no way to prevent them doing so – then it doesn’t make a lot of sense to join them in attacking the party which now represents the movement in the eyes of the general public. Which is precisely what so many in the yes movement do. The sensible thing is to talk up the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon, not talk them down. Because if you’re talking them down, you’re talking down the whole campaign. Because the whole campaign is associated with them. I know I’m repeating myself here. But I’m desperately trying to get this through to people.

Fallacy number three is the idea that we can sell a Yes vote, but we can’t sell the SNP. This is the party that keeps winning elections. The party that continues to be ahead in the polls even after ten years in power. The party that has won a record three Holyrood terms. The party whose leader gets quite remarkable positive approval ratings. And we have people telling us that we can’t sell this massively popular ‘product’, but we can sell independence.

This argument is even more ludicrous when seen in the light of what was said earlier about the crucial role played by the SNP. Surely if one element of the independence campaign is so absolutely critical, abandoning efforts to persuade people of its worthiness is pretty bloody stupid. While going around whining about how awful the party is must be regarded as self-defeating to the point of insanity.

Fallacy number four – the idea that we will win the new referendum by doing the same as we did the first time. Circumstances have changed. They have changed not least because of the first referendum. It altered the terrain massively. Just as one example, the British nationalists are no longer complacent about their ability to win. which is why they are fighting so hard to prevent the people of Scotland exercising their democratic right of self-determination.

We had plenty of diversity in the first referendum campaign. We lost. We lost in part because diversity can so easily become division. If we are to win, we need solidarity, focus and discipline. The kind of solidarity, focus and discipline that the winning campaign had. Although, obviously, without the rank dishonesty.

Achieving solidarity means the movement coalescing around some point. Focusing its power on that point. And never wavering from that single-minded effort. If a campaign has to coalesce around a point, logic dictates that it must be the crucial point. The point at which the power of the campaign comes up against the wall of resistance. Essentially, that point is Nicola Sturgeon.

There are different metaphors that work here. One might imagine Sturgeon as the point of a spear; the SNP as the spearhead; the Yes movement as the shaft of the spear; and the voters as the arm thrusting the spear.

I also like the idea of the SNP as the lever which will prise Scotland out of the British state, with the Scottish Parliament as the fulcrum and the Yes movement as the force. The important thing that these two analogies have in common is that they both refer to bringing together all of the elements of the independence movement in such a way as to make it effective against the might of the British state.

A diffused movement is precisely what we don’t need. We don’t need lots of faction sniping at one another. While the No campaign was hitting the Yes campaign with hammer blows half the Yes campaign was hitting the SNP with smaller hammers; amplifying the effect of the No campaign’s attacks.

We need to learn from the winners of the first referendum campaign. Instead of as many definitions of independence as there were yes groups, we need a simple, concise message that everybody can get behind. Instead of a forest of policy options obscuring the fundamental issue, we need to separate the debate around being independent from the task of becoming independent.

We need to do things differently. I could say a great deal more about what is required in order to win. But I rather doubt if anybody is listening.

*This was left as a comment on another blog, but it has since been censored.

If you find these articles interesting, please consider a small donation.
All monies received are used in furtherance of the campaign
to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status.

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Lost for Words…

For the first time in a long period I find myself lost for words.

Before the General Election I didn’t think that the Tories would win five seats in Scotland never mind thirteen.  I  was wrong.

Before the General Election I always thought that the Scottish, in general, were clever and would at least choose Labour over the Tories.  I was wrong.

Before the General Election I thought that the Scottish voting public would see through the bullshit of the MSM.  I was wrong.

In all honesty, I also thought that the Scottish people would appreciate a government that has spared them from the bedroom tax.  I was wrong.

However, I thought, they’ll at least be thankful that university fees are not in place.  I was wrong.

Surely though, they’ll be happy with free prescriptions?  Nope!

Come on, surely having the best performing NHS in the UK would make them a wee bit grateful?  Nope!  Nada!  Nothing!

Instead, they’re happier to be pulled out of the biggest trading block in the world thanks to the way citizens of other countries voted.  Yeah, that’s much more like it, that puts a smile on the old face eh?

My home country, it seems, is full of idiots and morons who cannot think beyond themselves or the British state.

As I’ve said, I’m lost for words.



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Know your opponents

Let us be absolutely clear about this. Voting for or promoting any British nationalist party is, by definition, incompatible with the aims and principles of Scotland’s independence movement.

Let us also be in no doubt whatever that the British Labour Party, the British Conservative & Unionist Party and the British Liberal Democrat Party – including the branch operations of these parties in Scotland – are all characterised by the same British nationalist ideology.

These are the parties of the British establishment. They are completely and unalterably committed to the preservation of the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state.

Individually and collectively, the British parties represent the very antithesis of ‘radicalism’. A vote for any of them is not only a vote against the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status, it is a vote against any meaningful progressive politics.

To embrace the British parties in any manner and to any extent is to embrace the British political system. To validate them is to legitimise established power. To empower them is to fatally undermine the cause of constitutional reform and social justice.

If you find these articles interesting, please consider a small donation.
All monies received are used in furtherance of the campaign
to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status.

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Better is not good enough

The below-the-line comments on this article from some of British nationalism’s more tedious amateur propagandists nicely underlines the point that economic discussion desperately needs to move away from the threadbare “Too wee! Too poor! Too stupid!” arguments that are the stock-in-trade of ideological unionists. But Ben Wray will have to forgive me if I am naturally wary (if not deeply suspicious) of proposals which so much as give the impression of being advanced as an alternative to independence.

Or, to put it another way, I need to be reassured about whether and how such economic proposals fit with the overarching constitutional case for restoring Scotland’s independence.

Economic arguments have their place. But they can never supersede or substitute for arguments deriving from the fundamental principles of democracy and justice.

It makes perfect sense that we should, for the present, seek to make the best of our situation within the UK. But let us be perfectly clear that there is no economic arrangement, however comfortable, which negates or diminishes the case for rectifying the gross democratic anomalies of the existing political union by restoring Scotland’s rightful constitutional status.

Let it also be clearly understood that this is NOT an argument for independence at any cost. It is perfectly reasonable to assume that a nation which can make the best of a grotesquely asymmetric political union will be even better able to effect improvement when freed from the constraints and impediments of a devolved settlement purposefully designed to severely limit the scope of Scotland’s democratically elected parliament.

If you find these articles interesting, please consider a small donation.
All monies received are used in furtherance of the campaign
to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status.

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Defy the hate!

Can Scotland be saved from anti-democratic British nationalist fanaticism? That is the real and urgent question. Will the people of Scotland once again be duped by the blatant dishonesty and scaremongering hysteria peddled by Jenny Hjul and the other undead of Better Together/Project Fear? Or will they defy those intent on the destruction of Scotland’s public services; the dismantling of our democratic institutions; and the eradication of our distinctive political culture?

Witness Hjul’s spittle-flecked frenzy as she rails dementedly against the democratically elected Scottish Government and the indisputable mandate awarded it by Scotland’s people and the Scottish Parliament. Feel the sneering contempt. Recoil from the snarling hatred. Be appalled by the mindlessness of British nationalist extremism and its ferocious rejection of popular sovereignty. And, as you look at her litany of bitter nastiness, bear in mind what it is that Hjul responding to. Only the matter-of-fact insistence that the will of Scotland’s people and parliament should be respected.

What has instigated Hjul’s ferociously angry tirade against our First Minister?  Only the simple proposition that the people of Scotland should be allowed to decide such fundamental matters as whether they want to bring their government home.

What has provoked Hjul to paroxysms of indignant outrage? Only the idea that the people of Scotland should be able to exercise the right of self-determination that is their inalienable entitlement.

What has prompted the furious, sputum-soaked exasperation of the British nationalist extremists on whose behalf Hjul rants? Only the suggestion that Scotland might be a normal nation.

Will you let Scotland succumb to despair and a hateful, imperious British nationalist ideology? Or will you raise your voice in defence of democracy and the hope of a better Scotland?

If you find these articles interesting, please consider a small donation.
All monies received are used in furtherance of the campaign
to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status.

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An unabashed plug

The following is taken from my article for the latest edition of iScot Magazine. The magazine is a truly worthwhile project. We really need independent media in Scotland. Please support iScot by subscribing and/or donating.

Mention the word ‘meme’ and it’s likely that the majority of people will immediately think of amusing or otherwise striking stuff on the web. Commonly, internet memes are captioned images which make some sort of social or political point, often using ironic or surreal humour. Although the term has also come to encompass any audio-visual content which achieves extraordinary popularity and/or exceptionally wide distribution by an organic process.

We are all familiar with memes. It’s safe to make such a generalisation because memes are so ubiquitous. They’re everywhere. Like the biological “bugs” they are analogous to, they multiply and spread. Even if you’ve never used a computer or a smart-phone or any kind of connected device and don’t know your Twitter from your WhatsApp, it’s all but certain you’ve encountered memes as they tend to leach into the wider culture through the media and even by way of everyday conversation. We swim in a sea of memes. Even if you have never seen an internet meme, you will surely have encountered a reference to one. In which case, you’re infected.

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