Independence When – A Riposte 120

I have been in Cruden Bay the last few days, where Nadira had been for some time shooting a film she has both written and produced. It is a short drama, a harrowing tale of torture victims who have applied for political asylum in the UK and are now in immigration detention on the “fast track”. The script is based on numerous interviews with genuine torture victims, refugees, lawyers, NGOs and policemen. One of the things the film does is highlight the work of Medical Justice, who do quite amazing work.

The film now enters post-production and I will keep you informed.

It was a bit weird to be in Peterhead in December enjoying the warm breeze. I recall some years ago wondering whether the effects of climate change would really become indisputable during my lifetime. I think I have my answer.

The last thread on the SNP caused a very interesting debate, before it eventually declined into the usual suspects banging on about Freemasons etc. I took from those comments this contribution from Peter A Bell, which is quite thoughtful, apart from the lazy device of starting by stating an argument I had not actually made and then attributing it to me and characterising it as ludicrous. The rest is worth engaging with though, and when I get recovered a bit I shall engage with it. Meantime, fill your boots.

Of all the ridiculous conspiracy theories that roil in the minds of those with a taste for such nonsense few are more ludicrous than the notion that the Scottish National Party is actively engaged in thwarting the aspirations of those who would see Scotland’s rightful constitutional status restored. A pleasing reverie might be one in which these conspiracy theorists are locked in a room with those who just as fervently insist that the SNP is obsessively focused on the constitutional question to the exclusion of all else – there to beat the folly out of one another with rolled-up copies of their comic-book version of the world.

Reality comprises the grey-scale vastness between these two simplistic extremes.

Here is the news! The campaign for independence can proceed in a variety of ways. Some of those ways are more subtle than a chant of, “What do we want? Independence! When do we want it? NOW!”. The independence campaign was undoubtedly much more fun when it was such a distant prospect that we didn’t have to concern ourselves to much about the niceties of the process of becoming independent. It was all so easy when independence was below a far horizon and it was sufficient that we were headed in the right general direction. It’s all got al lot more complicated now that we are close enough for small course correction to matter.

Almost as laughable as the notion of the SNP having abandoned its commitment to independence is the idea that, having successfully navigated to within sight of our destination, we should now start questioning the party’s suitability for the task of completing the journey. Not that anybody has any sensible suggestions as to who might take up the role at this late date. Apparently, we must doubt the SNP simply because we can.

It’s all too easy to imagine Craig Murray as part of a committee inspecting the almost completed artwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and debating whether Michelangelo is the right man to finish the job. After all, he doesn’t seem as excited about the job as he was four years ago, talking more now about the practicalities of the task rather than the grand vision. There’s bound to be some enthusiastic youngsters who are itching to have a go!

The practicalities of becoming independent matter. They matter in a way that they didn’t really when I first engaged with the independence campaign half a century ago. The world has moved on. Things have changed. Not the least of these changes is that the British establishment is now engaged with the campaign as well. We are no longer just fighting for something. We are fighting against a massively powerful force utterly determined to preserve its power and status.

The ground on which the constitutional battle is being fought has also changed. In many ways, to the advantage of the independence campaign. Tactics must be adjusted accordingly. Never losing sight of the fact that the battle has to be won within the territory of the British political system. We need to fight clever every bit as much as we need to fight hard.

That is what the SNP is doing. It is fighting clever. Within the context of the British political system, size matters. Electoral clout is important. A massive mandate is a mighty weapon. The SNP must work to gain and hold this mandate in both the Holyrood and the Westminster arenas. It has a dual role as both the party of government and the political arm of the independence movement. It has to succeed in both roles. More than that. It has to succeed on a grand scale. If it is to be the lever which prises the millstone of the British state off Scotland’s back, the SNP needs exceptional political power. The kind of power which, to be perfectly frank, we would be sensibly cautious about handing to any political party. Needs must when necessity drives.

We have to put our trust in the SNP for the simple reason that there is nobody else. The people of Scotland have, by the exercise of their democratic power, chosen the SNP as their agents. There is unprecedented agreement that the SNP is best placed to defend and advance Scotland’s interests. There is not the same consensus about what those interests are. The party must seek to satisfy both those who are committed to independence and those who are not yet persuaded, even though they are happy to accept the party in its administrative role. There is no other party in a position to do this. Quite simply, there is no path to independence on any reasonable time-scale which does not have the SNP taking a lead role.

Once we reconcile ourselves to this hard fact of realpolitik, we start to see the SNP’s manoeuvrings in a different light. If the SNP group at Westminster appears to be “settling in”, maybe it’s because that’s how they have to appear in order to be effective. Bear in mind that they are struggling against the Westminster elite’s quite blatant efforts to sideline and exclude them. Vociferous protests and flashmob-style walk-outs might be great theatre. But does this not simply play into the narrative that the unionist parties and their friends in the media want to create?

As the Scottish Parliament elections loom, is it not appropriate for the SNP to be talking about the reasons voters should continue to trust them to run the country, rather than conforming to the unionist caricature of a single-issue protest party?

If the SNP isn’t saying much about a second independence referendum is that not because that particular ball is now at our feet? Has Nicola Sturgeon not made it abundantly clear that she wants the campaign for another referendum to be lead by the people rather than the politicians?

There is more than a bit of intellectual posturing about sniping at the SNP for supposedly abandoning the fight for independence. The party may not be perfect. But there is no rational reason to doubt its commitment to bringing Scotland’s government home. The lack of any justification makes this look like criticism for its own sake. I have to ask, what’s the point?

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120 thoughts on “Independence When – A Riposte

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  • Gillian Williams

    I disagree that Snp are pursuing independence and boxing clever. I think the fact Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond are members of the Queens privy council are strong indicators they will protect the union.
    They are also pursuing the same policies as the Tories in England privatisation by stealth ,free schools and lowering of corporation tax. Their latest budget by Swinney is almost identical to Osbornes. They say they are anti austerity party but their policies are austerity . The fact Nicola agreed the UK wide water deal behind our backs weeks before the referendum also show they were not looking to split from the UK .
    Last year they had a £379 million underspend and services were cut.
    As for independence there will never be a majority supporting it in Scotland. I voted Yes in the referendum as wanted to get away from the Tories and believed their lies that it was economically viable. Ive always been a labour member and voter and have never voted for the Snp.
    I would not vote Yes if there is ever another referendum and nor would my family. For two reasons firstly I do not think its viable and I would not under any circumstances want to be governed by the SNP ,I know many people who voted Yes who wouldnt again also.

  • JamesS

    Big of you to post this Craig.

    To me that is a perfect summation of where we are just now. I get the frustration with those impatient for mire active progress but that battle was lost last year and the ground needs to preparing for winning the war in the long run. That involves cementing the political mandate to represent.

    It’s so easy to concentrate on small differences of opinion and ignore the fact you and Peter in my eyes at least were and are leading lights of the movement.

    Eyes in the prize guys. 🙂

  • JamesS

    Excuse the typos. On the wife’s phone and my fingers cover two keys due it being Lilliputian.

  • Craig P

    “Last year they had a £379 million underspend and services were cut.”

    Hi Gillian, yes, I heard of this too via unionist friends and was concerned. On delving deeper it seems that the underspend is required to be planned in because Scotland has no borrowing powers. Without the ability to borrow, there is only a fixed budget, and any unexpected extra costs have to come out of that. Fortunately the money is not lost completely. Rather than being handed back permanently to Westminster it can be spent this coming year.

    “I know many people who voted Yes who wouldnt again also.”

    Oops, sorry, I thought I was engaging with a real person.

  • Jake Gittes

    So Gillian, Salmond and Sturgeon are, in reality “Tartan Tories” and closet Unionists.

    You voted YES to escape Tory rule but will vote NO again because Scotland would be an SNP dominated basket case if independent.

    So you’re going to keep voting Slab and pray that “the British Road to Socialism” still exists……after 100+ years and Corbyn can pull off a Hail Mary in 2020. Just checking, is that it?

  • Alex Birnie

    Kudos to you Craig for publishing this. Apart from Peter’s juxtaposition of you and the Sistene chapel argument, which was a bit mischievous (imo), Peter articulated my feelings perfectly, particularly the “small course corrections”. It is a given that if you gather four Scots together, you will hear five different opinions, and this phenomenon will be a feature of the campaign from hereon in. Peter is right. The British state has no such problems and their monolithic control of the MSM will make the eventual victory all the more impressive. Let’s all talk to our no neighbours, and when we gather in groups of four, do we think it might be possible to reduce the number of opinions to four…or even three? 🙂

  • Sixer

    Have nothing of value to add to either critique or praise of the SNP, sorry.

    But thanks, Craig, for drawing my attention to Medical Justice. I’m just making a donation now.

  • Blair paterson

    I have read all the items about the S.N.P. But I honestly think they should,be doing more in combating all the lies that are being told about them and Scotland,I mean to say and do nothing about these matters is in a sense to condone them

  • Tony M

    I don’t think you ever voted for independence Gillian. As for lies, well your post is such a tour-de-force of them that it’s hard to tell where to begin. Scotland, amongst the wealtiest countries in Europe, if not the world, can achieve anything it sets it mind to, the union has been and is the only thing that has, deliberately, held us back,

    The institutional water tendering outsourcing emanates from the EU, it was mandatory.

    A majority do support independence, you seem to have overlooked events since the referendum, the staggering election of 56 SNP MPs, and only one from each of the arms of the unionist troika: Labour, Tory and Lib-Dem – a devastating unionist wipe-out from which recovery is improbably if not impossible. The mandate for independence grows stronger still, unstoppably. The matter been decided, pretty conclusively, the union is de facto over. Britnat bile notwithstanding. The referendum was close, but Project Fear, 100% media hostility and dishonesty, then the last-minute Vow fraud unduly affected the result and made a mockery of any remaining pretence that conditions in which democracy could flourish would be possible.

    Only with independence will democracy become a reality instead of a mere aspiration, never will it or can it ever be possible in the artificial composite UK state, where for example one person, the ‘Remembrancer’ in the Westminster parliament, has more power than all of Scotland’s MPs and all of England and Wales’ too, combined, to serve the interests of the lawless state within another that is the City of London to the severe detriment of all but a few.

    We had been living too long under one of the most terrible tyrannies in human history, we’re leaving whatever else may happen, but if we can bring that tyranny itself down as a parting shot, as a favour, freeing the rest of the Britons desperate to get out from under it too, we’ll give it a sincere go, but for independent-minded Scots, Scotland and Scotland’s people come first always, every time.

  • MJ

    “It’s all got a lot more complicated now that we are close enough for small course correction to matter”

    Close enough? Here is the news! Only last year the Scots voted decisively to remain in the UK.

    And what’s this “small correction”? Until the SNP makes a radical about turn and heads for an independent currency, independence will remain below a far horizon.

  • Ian

    That’s all very well and dandy, and i don’t disagree with it. However it misses out the effect of the SNP’ governance of Scotland in the here and now. There are very large question marks around their policies, and the implementation thereof, in health, education, law, land reform and culture. Independence may be the ultimate goal, but if they cannot show that they can manage what political power they have right now, then the persuasiveness of their case is damaged. The SNP have benefitted from the disaffection and disillusion with Westminster and the imposition of Tory policies, which is widespread across Scotland. But they haven’t been convincing when it comes to the mundanity of everyday decisions which affect people’s lives and jobs now. The truly bizarre thing is that the Scottish Tories now have a leader who was born out of the ashes of the SNP’s juggernaut, and is now outflanking them in some respects. That is how mixed up the messages are which the SNP sends on their economic and social policies.

  • Tony M

    Currency, monarchy and all the other fluff and stuff are ephemeral matters, still.

    I didn’t support many of the SNP positions going into the 2014 referendum, on the EU, on NATO, on monarchy, on currency. But these were things which after independence would have of course then become negotiable, as within any democracy, with further referenda on a host of issues to determine the public’s will. None of this can happen before and until independence, some people still don’t seem to understand that we have to have firstly control in Scotland in order to move in these and so many other areas to better policies for Scotland. Independence stands alone as THE issue, it should not be confused with mere issues, which independence alone gives us the power to then determine amongst ourselves as a people, optimally. SNP policy positions for the immediate post-independence period, to make transition happen with ease and least friction does not necessarily mean that those policies are best or are unalterably sacred things, they’re not identical to medium and long-term SNP policies after post-independence consultation on what is better and most desired by and for Scotland. Much post-independence fruitful negotiation with rUK was also predicated on a responsible mature constructive attitude on their part , which it seems was too much to expect they were capable of, remaining hostile, obstructive immature and pathetic.

    The SNP should set out both its ‘don’t scare the horses’ slow transitional stuff, and also its aspirations for 5 to 10 years after. Not to do so fuels this ‘its not independence at all really’, inane sniping, because everything can’t happen at once overnight.

  • Vronsky

    Seriously, Craig – I wouldn’t bother with the bastard. You’ve just given the silly cunt a prize: he’s annoyed you (something the Habba team, with all their resources, couldn’t do in months of trying). Perhaps you should put them in contact with each other – a sort of trolling cooperative. I’m sure they would learn from each other. Well, sort of.

    Friendly advice; delete your post on this.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Seems much too focused on independence and the SNP to me.

    See revival of Labour in the UK, and the SNP losing some strength to it and Scottish Unionists in the next UK election.

    Wonder if the UK will look more like Spain after the next election, with a coalition of the left, like Spain’s Socialists seeking power with the representatives from the Basque Country and Catalonia, seeking power, and Elizabeth’s successor drawn into the dispute of forming a government..

  • lysias

    Why all the talk about a second referendum that Westminster may never permit? Ireland seceded without a referendum, purely on the basis of the results of a parliamentary election, and Catalonia is even now in the process of doing the same thing.

  • Roderick Russell

    It can be very difficult for a pro-independence Party after a referendum loss to both govern and, at the same time, promote the idea of a second referendum. This is because some voters who don’t like the way the SNP governs may also turn against them in a future referendum campaign. For example: I know people who, mistakenly in my view, voted NO in the last referendum simply because they didn’t like the SNP’s policies in government.

    My own view is that one only gets one kick at the cat and that unless there is serious economic fall-out in the UK (which may well happen) a successful vote for independence is not likely in the next decade.

  • lysias

    In the parliamentary election of December 1910, Redmond’s Irish Nationalists, who demanded Home Rule (Irish autonomy) but not independence, won an overwhelming victory in Ireland, winning 73 out of 103 seatsm while other nationalists basically supporting the Redmond party’s program won another 10 seats, and almost all the remaining seats were taken by Unionists in Ulster.

    This lopsided result did not prevent a sea change in Irish opinion to the detriment of Redmond’s (later Dillon’s) party from taking place over the next 8 years. In the parliamentary election of December 1918, it was Sinn Féin, which demanded independence, that won 73 seats.

    Radical changes in public opinion can take place over relatively short periods of time

  • kpoda

    Yes, we read it the first time. It’s still bullshit. Stratagems, pompous mots, and abstract hand-waving about trust. Not a word about what independence means.

    There is one and only one way to free Scotland from British interference. The British regime has forfeited any claim to responsible sovereignty through bad-faith subversion of the UN Charter (in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya); the International Bill of Human Rights (with invalid derogations in municipal law); and the Rome Statute (with continuing impunity for the gravest crimes). Scotland must take up Britain’s lost sovereignty by demonstrating its commitment to those laws. This will quickly make union untenable.

    Those three instruments must be the foundation for any independence party’s platform. Otherwise the country has no case for independence. So here are the relevant issues:

    Does the SNP stand for human rights? All human rights, including the economic, social, and cultural rights defined in the ICESCR? Will it insist on world-standard civil and political rights and not the bowdlerized US-style subset in British law?

    Does the SNP stand for peace? Will it refrain from use or threat of force? Will it defend the nation strictly subject to UNSC supervision in accordance with the plain meaning of Article 51? Will it exercise the Scottish people’s right to peace in denunciation, resistance, and nonparticipation, per the Santiago Declaration? Will it allow Scottish peoples to withhold tax remittances from illegal British use of force per the Declaration’s Article 5, clause 6? Will it actively undertake disarmament and demilitarization, and introduce the long-suppressed ideas of the culture of peace?

    Does the SNP tolerate impunity? Will it prosecute or extradite criminals in accordance with the Rome Statute and universal-jurisdiction law? Will it investigate the plan and conspiracy for war of Tony Blair? Will it investigate Jack Straw’s acquiescence to torture?

    In the case of Bell’s fustian, the questions answer themselves. Bell has never given this a thought. He’s indoctrinated in US/British dogma. An SNP run by people of his ilk will never free you.

  • nevermind, Lord Feldmann keeps the nasty party in the news.

    Why should any party sit in Government that does not want to allow its electorate a fair and proportional vote? Or speak and manoeuvre within this same Parliament, having an impact on an electorate that did not vote for them?

    They had the chance to speak up for a fair proportional vote in Britain at the last election, the same system that got them elected to Holyrood, but to support the English electorate, so they are able to choose an equally fair PR vote was not important to the SNP.

    My question are to both, Sturgeon and Corbyn, when will you stop manipulating English voters and allow them to choose a fair proportional vote as they were able to do in NI, Wales and Scotland?

    As for Independence. I believe that the vote will be triggered by the EU referendum, to dither would be detrimental to Scotland’s resolve and Business in Europe.

  • giyane

    Bail you buggers, bail for your lives. as in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner:

    “The very deep did rot: O Christ!
    That ever this should be!
    Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
    Upon the slimy sea.

    About, about, in reel and rout
    The death-fires danced at night;
    The water, like a witch’s oils,
    Burnt green, and blue and white.”

  • Mark Russell

    Peter Bell’s comments deserve a considered response, given they pertain to strategy rather than principle. Is it not rather disingenuous asking others to address his commentary?

  • Republicofscotland

    Its good to see Craig,that you’ve snapped out of your temporary morbidity, over the SNP.

    As you say the SNP must play smart accumulating powers at Holyrood, whilst trying to persuade the populus that independence is the way, and it is.

    The Westminster propaganda machine, which includes the BBC, and just about every national newspaper, are formidable opponents. In order to defeat such a foe, the SNP will need to reach the 60% mark of voters.

    That will take time and considerable effort. I could say that time is weak link in this chain of future events, and it is to certain extent, however in our favour, is the fact that Labour in Scotland are a absolute shambles. That in itself might buy us the time we need.

  • Republicofscotland

    Independence, will snapped the chain that holds us to Westminster, in the process, we’ll gain seats at the EU, and not have to sit behind Tory minister.

    It will also allow us to feel confident about the EU and our membership, we wouldn’t need to worry about the forthcoming British Bill of Rights, nor the shameful bill to curb union strikes.

    We wouldn’t be dragged into bloody and illegal wars. We’d also be rid of nuclear weapons, and radioactive leakages from nuclear subs.

    We could change our welfare, and pensions to suit our needs, and broadcasting would be a joy to watch, no empirical propaganda, nor BBC bias.

    On the political front not having to answer to their Westminster masters, Labour the Tories and Libdems, would evolve into parties that voters may find attractive.

    I look forward to seeing a Scottish Olympic team, in Tokyo 2020.

  • Ian

    @Mark Russell,

    Perhaps you missed the part where Craig said that he would give it a more considered response at a later date? “The rest is worth engaging with though, and when I get recovered a bit I shall engage with it. Meantime, fill your boots.”

    I hope you weren’t being disingenuous in deliberately overlooking it.

  • DRE

    Crudden Bay. Epic cinematography. Childhood, all too brief summers spent on that sand, and splashing in the burn.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Here’s a good book – potted biogs of all 56 SNP MPs. It’s available in, or via, all public libraries. It’s just been published by the Glasgow-based Freight Books, which puts out some excellent material about Scotland (yes, to declare an ‘interest’, a wee story of mine got published in one, some years ago).

    I have to say, at least from what they’ve said about themselves, the people in this book seem deeply committed to both independence and social justice.

  • Vronsky

    Oh for fuck’s sake. It’s Cruden Bay. One ‘D’. ‘crudden’ has an an entirely different meaning in Scots – consult a dictionary, if you dare.

    My daughter lives in Cruden Bay. The beach is desolately beautiful.

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