Sunday 21 April 2024

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from nationalism

The roots of recent events go far back. The SNP changed when it first gained power in 2007 and even more when it gained a majority in 2011. But it changed most during the long independence referendum campaign that started when David Cameron agreed that there was going to be a referendum and built momentum until it reached a sort of frenzy in September 2014.

Despite having a Scottish father and a Scottish surname David Cameron understood nothing whatsoever about Scotland or Scottish politics. He didn’t grasp that granting a referendum would itself fuel Scottish nationalism. He didn’t grasp that each time his government told Alex Salmond he couldn’t have something that he wanted, it would fuel resentment against the wicked English not allowing us to use oor poonds. Worse still he did not grasp what granting a referendum would do to the SNP, those in charge of it and Scottish voters.

Alex Salmond was tried for alleged crimes committed in the years leading up to the referendum and was acquitted. But those witnesses who later complained decided in 2013 or 2014 that it was more important to win the referendum than to tell the police about Alex Salmond’s behaviour. Perhaps this is because Salmond did nothing. I wasn’t there. I don’t know.

But it may be that power went to Alex Salmond’s head and that he considered that the normal rules applied to a married man dealing with younger women didn’t apply to him. It may also be that everyone else in the Scottish government and the SNP decided not to notice if an important leader crucial to the cause sometimes got drunk and sometimes pushed the boundaries of propriety.

A leader of a national movement may begin to feel untouchable and that the normal rules of conduct do not apply to someone charged with the destiny of a country. This is Raskolnikov’s argument in Crime and Punishment. If I were Napoleon, it would be justified in committing a small crime to reach power. This leads to him committing murder. If such a national leader gets away with one crime, he begins to think he can get away with any crime and at this point real wickedness can happen.

I have recently seen people writing that they don’t care if an important SNP figure was a serial killer, they would still vote for independence. But this is the same argument as I don’t care if the leader of German nationalism kills Jews, I will still support German nationalism. But it is precisely this mentality that was new in Scottish politics.

A single rogue poll I think created what came after the referendum. Scottish nationalists genuinely believed that they were going to win and losing by ten points was more than they could endure. It’s one thing to lose when you never had a chance, it’s something quite different to lose when you were certain that you would win.

This created the still staggering events of 2015 when the SNP won all but three seats and destroyed the Labour Party that had ruled Scotland for as long as anyone could remember.

It also created the cult of Nicola Sturgeon. No Scottish political leader even Alex Salmond has ever been treated to adoring crowds weeping with joy while listening to her words. She reminded me of a figure at the sort of revival meeting depicted in Elmer Gantry. The lame walk and the blind see and blessed is he who believes in Nicola Sturgeon.

All of the power in the SNP was gathered together in the greatest political union since Isabella married Ferdinand. They controlled everything in Scotland. They knew everyone. They centralised everything so that there was only one person who needed to be called.

And then the adulation increased still further when Nicola Sturgeon campaigned for Remain and even the English began to love her.

Someone with sense needed to whisper in Sturgeon’s ear about the danger of absolute power and the sense that you can do anything, but there was no one, there were merely people willing to follow her orders no matter what those orders were.

The case against Alex Salmond should never have even been investigated. The time for investigations was in 2013 and 2014. But no. The First Lady and the First Gentlemen couldn’t resist the temptation to kill King Duncan while he lay asleep in his bed after foolishly accepting their hospitality. Everything follows from this.

It is as if MacBeth and Lady MacBeth got away with the murder of King Duncan. Well, if we can get away with murder despite there being an inquiry and despite there being lots of evidence to suggest our involvement, what can we not get away with?

And then it came to pass that Sturgeon got to play her healer of the sick, curer of the lame role and once more she was greeted with adulation not only from English people, but from Scots who opposed independence. Thank goodness that oor Nicola was in charge rather than that vulgar Boris.

All the while that she was healing the sick support for independence was growing and we had pictures of Nicola Sturgeon with a halo. At this point I knew that her head had been turned. Who agrees to position themselves so that a photo makes it seem that she is a saint? Not once, but a few times.

Everything was secret. There were no WhatsApp messages. The First Lady and First Husband controlled everything. Indeed, only they knew anything about what the party needed to fund this campaign or that initiative, this advertisement or that trip to a conference.

We are all tempted, but most of us don’t have the opportunity. The key to giving into temptation is also having the feeling that I will get away with it. Who would know if I took just one sweetie from the pick and mix? Who would know and moreover who would dare question me? Once you have taken one sweetie and you get away with it, you begin to be tempted to take something bigger.

The sins of the SNP go back many years and involve many more people than appear now to have been naughty. There are all those who saw something but didn’t say anything. There are all those who accepted power being concentrated in an unhealthy way because they hoped it would deliver independence. There are all those who acquiesced in a cult of personality that was dangerous. This may all now begin to unravel and be exposed. It must be or we will never reach cleanliness.

Scotland is recovering from its hysteria in 2014. It took ten years, but now the tiny band of warriors gathered in George Square merely demonstrate the lack of support for the SNP.

But let us be clear it was Scottish nationalism and those who voted for it who are responsible for everything that happened. That was the original sin.

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