Tuesday 3 October 2023

I can see independence just ahead


There is always a new plan for Scottish independence. It’s always just over the next hill. So once more just before the SNP is about to lose a previously safe seat at Rutherglen and Hamilton West, we have a long paper saying don’t worry soon we will have independence. It’s like after Jeremy Corbyn lost in 2019 saying don’t worry we’ll soon have socialism.

I think Scottish nationalists were traumatised by the referendum in 2014. Initially they enjoyed it without much expectation of winning. They got to wave their flags and shout at people in the street, but then there was a moment when they thought they were going to do it. But to then lose by more than ten points wasn’t just disappointing, it was psychologically devastating. This is why we keep having to promise that next year there will be a referendum or in ten years we will have 70% support.

Robin McAlpine seems intelligent and sincere, but there comes a point when we have to ask Scottish nationalists why do you keep supporting a cause that is obviously corrupt and damaging to Scotland.

McAlpine keeps working hard earning not very much, while all around him are SNP MPs and MSPs who are obviously in it for the money. The Westminster SNP MPs were horrified by the de facto referendum plan because they thought they would lose their jobs. Lisa Cameron was shunned by fellow SNP MPs. But then why does she want to stay an SNP MP if the experience is so unpleasant? Why not do something more useful?

This is really the fundamental issue to ask McAlpine. Let’s say we follow your plan. We use all the modern campaigning techniques hoping our opponents don’t use them too. We end up with Scottish independence. Why do you think that would be better?

If Yes had won in 2014 we would have ended up with Alex Salmond. If there had been a second referendum in 2016 after Brexit we’d have ended up with Nicola Sturgeon. We would probably never have found out about the issues with the SNP’s finances or the campervan or anything else. Why work long hours producing a report for that?

There is always the idea that after independence there would be a Scottish General Election, and anyone could win even Common Weal? But why would anything change? Do you really think Humza Yousaf, or his successor will say well we’ve won time to disband the SNP?

But once we have left the Tory loving UK, we’d have the chance to vote for socialism. But this is naïve in the extreme. If you want to join the EU, you have to follow EU rules about budgets and spending. Even if you don’t join the EU the market is still going to dictate many of your spending decisions. It is not going to let a socialist country borrow at any sort of reasonable rate. An independent Scotland would end up with social democracy not much different from that offered by Keir Starmer or even Rishi Sunak. So, you spend your life on little more than minimum wage campaigning for what we have now?

But I don’t think Scottish nationalists including McAlpine are honest about their motivations. Socialists like Bernie Saunders are not attempting to secede from the USA. They want to bring the benefits of socialism to all Americans.

Scottish nationalists are not motivated by utilitarian concerns to make Scotland more prosperous or even to increase equality. They are motivated solely by nationalism.

The average independence marcher would accept vote for an independent Scotland even if he knew it meant that the average standard of living would fall. So, I think would McAlpine. But then all the Common Weal stuff is just flimflam.

We wade through fifty pages of pseudointellectualism only to arrive at the truth. I want Scotland to be independent because Scotland is a country that plays football and rugby, and I don’t want to be British because I’m Scottish not British.

But although there are quite a lot of nationalists like this in Scotland. There are not enough. If the SNP loses Rutherglen and Hamilton West and then goes on to lose twenty or twenty-five seats at the General Election Scotland will have decisively proved just as much as in 2014 that we are not solely motivated by nationalism.

McAlpine wants to “create a “national commission” of independent experts to work out the answers to what Scotland must do on day one of independence.” But who would these experts be? Would they include Scots who oppose independence because they think it would be financially damaging to leave the UK? Obviously not. So, they wouldn’t be very independent. This is no different from the wishful thinking of the various SNP reports.

I agree that if support for Scottish independence was consistently at 60% or 70% then it might be possible to persuade the UK Government to begin negotiations on independence even without needing a referendum. But that is only because the UK lacks what everyone else in Europe has. There is no strong national identity anymore. Some English people would regret the loss of Scotland, others would welcome it, but there would be no demonstrations in London like in Madrid trying to prevent the departure of Scotland. There would therefore not be the political will either.

But just as the sense of a common British identity is weak in most of the UK so too there is zero appetite in Scotland for a “three-day “carnival” to encourage the mass signing of a petition – styled on the Scottish Covenant of the 1950s – which should demonstrate an unshakeable mandate for independence.”

People signed a covenant in the 1950s but they still all voted for Labour or the Conservatives. Only a few thousand turn up to an independence march on a sunny day in September how many are going to turn up to sign your new covenant?

I’m afraid that this is all the wishful thinking of an outsider looking at the SNP imploding and with a sense of disgust at the behaviour of some in the SNP. There is no Yes movement to unite. It isn’t even honest about the issue no longer being Yes or No.

The Scottish Greens are a liability. They discourage more voters from supporting independence than anyone on the Pro UK side of the argument. Alba can only work in the context of a Scottish Parliament election as a list party. In a General Election it merely splits the vote. Which leaves the SNP.

The referendum in 2014 happened because of the SNP. Political change can happen due mass movements and protests, but usually this occurs when there is no democratic alternative. The idea that Scotland could become independent after the SNP loses half its seats is as preposterous as Scotland gaining home rule in the 1950s when everyone voted Conservative and Labour.

This then is the problem for Scottish nationalists. Even when the SNP won all but three of the seats in 2015 and gained nearly 50% of the vote you had no mandate either for a second referendum or for independence. If the SNP gets 35% at the next General Election and loses half its seats, then a British Government can reasonably point out support for independence is declining.

We care about votes and seats. We don’t care much about petitions and demonstrations or marching.

Under those circumstances McAlpine’s talk of how to get to 70% when the only means to get independence is on 35% looks like another manifestation of Scottish nationalism’s continual failure to accept reality since 2014.


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