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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  • David

    Personally I think the independence campaign is stopped until oil prices and demand recover. There was always the question of a hydrocarbon based economy being unstable during the initial campaign. The doom and gloom merchants were correct with their assessment of oil incomes. How would an independent Scotland support the oil industry in its current state. Short answer is it couldn’t and with its loss is the large part of Scottish GDP. The books simply would not balance in todays market place. The SNP know this, in fact they always knew it !

    If Scotland became independent tomorrow, it would be bankrupt by Christmas. If the Scots really want to be independent then they need to start creating significant wealth away from the Hydrocarbon economy. Lets not also forget that an independent Scotland would not be permitted to build Royal Navy ships. That double ( or triple ) whammy of ship yard closures, oil job losses and presumably the loss of jobs associated with the nuclear deterrent being kicked out would cause large scale social problems, poverty and a situation that would probably end up with the RUK government having a choice, bail out Scotland or have a bankrupt neighbour.

    I hate Nicola fishface with a passion, but stupid she isn’t. Like it or not the timing is simply not right for Scotland to be able to stand on its own two feet, oil will not recover for maybe a decade. Until she or the independence movement can create a stable non military, non hydrocarbon economy Scottish independence looks a long long way off.

    Time however is the one thing the SNP does not have in abundance, how long can they hold office with a mandate for independence, without being able to actually offer it ? 2 maybe 3 election cycles at best. That gives Scotland 10 – 15 years to create a sustainable economy, maybe then independence will come.

  • Herbie

    “But why isn’t it being reported in the Scottish media?”

    It is!!

    Turns out you lied about that as well, Fred.

    And just before Christmas too.

    God only knows what you’re like the rest of the year.

  • Tony M

    Last I recall Scotland’s RC population was about 600,000 out of a population of say six million. Let us assume that, as many say, whether it’s the case or not, I don’t think so at all -‘one ‘side’ is as bad as the other’. Let’s then for the sake of calculation grab an out-of-thin air factor, say 10% (x 0.1) of each group are just impossibly irreconcilably bigoted. Affected Population then 600,000, RC minority 60,000, the rest 540,000. 540000/60000 = 9.

    We have 600,000 deadweight imbeciles from both ‘sides’ who can’t move on from whatever, on something which is no relevance to Scotland past or future.

    We prove that even if improbably ‘one side is as bad as the other’, the scale of the problem to be tackled still lies in very large part with the orangist majority.

    I’d say from that it’s clear sectarianism is about 90% one-way. Focusing on one egregious example from that 10%, if that’s what this is, obscures the far greater part of the problem, but it doesn’t obscure it well enough.

    Malcolm X: “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing […]”

  • fred

    “Turns out you lied about that as well, Fred.”

    I’m still not seeing it on BBC Scotland retard.

    I’m damned sure if she was claiming to be ISIS or Al Qaeda or some other terrorist organisation it would be right there in big letters at the top of the page.

  • Herbie

    Ring ’em up and let ’em know, Fred.

    The BBC aren’t the sharpest tools in the box, as we all well know.

    And please, no more lies before Christmas.

    Think of the baby Jesus, His holy Father and mother Mary.

    For shame.

  • Republicofscotland

    “Utter horseshit Fred. Alan Cochrane, David Torrance, Deerin, Katie Grant, Gardham, Simon Johnson, Alan Roden, and many others in the MSM do not even try and hide their hatred of the SNP. You are bullshitting on a epic scale.”


    Muttley 79, you missed the Heralds good old favourite, Magnus Gardham.

  • Republicofscotland

    “In Scotland they’re controlled by the Scottish government.”



    99% of the newspapers in Scotland are owned by forces outside Scotland. Please show evidence to back up your wild theory.

  • Republicofscotland

    “But why isn’t it being reported in the Scottish media?”


    Scotland doesnt have a media, except for the National and the Sunday Herald both owned by Gannet an American company.

    Has the penny not dropped yet Fred.

  • Republicofscotland

    Dr Jim Walker, Chief Economist, Asianomics, puts forward reasons why independence is vital, if Scotland is to grow, below is a excerpt of his excellent comment.

    “How could it be possible that an independent Scotland be worse off with 100 per cent of North Sea oil revenues rather than the notional 8.4 per cent that we are treated to at the moment (and that is before our contribution to the cost of HS2, the third runway at Heathrow, the London Underground and the London sewerage system – never mind Trident)?”

  • CanSpeccy

    @ Giyanne


    You have deviated , in 2 comments , into sense. What has come over you?
    Q. what do you think will be the effect on Germany of 1 million Syrians arriving there this year. A/ A very bad thing . B/ No noticeable effect. C/ A very good thing D/ The best piece of political peacemaking in a generation, worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize for Angela Merkel and her circle?

    Yeah, give Agela Burqal the Piss Prize, for sure.

  • CanSpeccy

    @ Doug Scourgie:

    Roy Spencer is a crank CanSpeccy

    Come on Dougie, you can do better than that. Provide us with proof that the data I cited are false. Or maybe you can’t do better than that, hence the usual lib-leftie hate speech instead of an logic and fact based argument.

  • Blair paterson

    Why do you not just ignore Fred we do not agree with any thing he says , he is a wind up merchant and you allow him to take over the whole discussion ignore him treat him with the contempt he deserves let him be met with a roaring silence

  • Nick

    Thanks for posting Gillian.
    A little light relief is always welcome on a cold winter’s morning.

  • Tony M

    The G.A. Ponsonby book: London Calling, subtitled How the BBC Stole the Referendum has become available in full, previously only the first and then the second chapters were released for free, but now it’s out, all of it, online.

    Hat tip to the author for making this important, detailed work available. A paper copy is well worth having too if you find any still in stock out there.

  • Kempe

    Well if you believe that stout Scottish patriots could be turned into “stupid beyond belief” unionists by BBC propaganda then Ponsonby’s book is for you! Strange how Yougov polls have come in for some well deserved criticism, “You-can-have-any-result-you-want-Guv” I think was one observation, but when it comes to Ponsonby’s hypothesis they have to be treated as 100% accurate!

  • Dave

    @ Tony M

    The so-called independence referendum wasn’t an independence referendum it was a vote between devolution within the UK or within the EU and thus the question “do you think Scotland should be independent” was de facto bogus and biased in favour of a Yes vote and presumably both deceits were allowed due to Cameron’s incompetence!

    The fact is the SNP began as a genuine independence party, but as it advanced into office it tailored its message for the long road and as new people join with their own agenda this original aim grows more distance as they compromise to deliver in the short term.

    But the SNP’s success also becomes its downfall as the other parties realign with a more progressive Unionism.

  • Tony M

    Dave: What we do in the medium term after independence will be our decision, as opposed to SE England deciding all for us, who can’t see past or through the Tories or for that matter – bar the slogans and rhetoric – the functionally identical Labour party. I would prefer more direct democracy and a diet of constitutional questions to be determined again by referenda, held as required, and that an well-informed people decide on such matters, political parties’ role merely to see that the civil service and rest of the unelected state enact the people’s will faithfully. On Europe, whether in, out, this EU or that EU, or EFTA, it’s ours to decide what’s best for us not for the bankers and oligarchs to decide what’s best for them and their class, and command it be done in the ears of their bought and paid for creatures, the puppet politicians of the Westminster unionist world. Our country, our people, our choices, our chance, for Scotland, these are the new influences in the SNP.

    Progressive Unionism, is more than a touch oxymoronic, how progressive were the thugs who descended on George Sq. in Glasgow on September 19th 2014 as the people mourned the crushing of democracy itself in Scotland, by the British state in its inimitable and always dirty way. Project Fear, lying hypocritical unionist parties acting in sinister concert and -from BBC sources themselves, the ‘neutral’ Corporation on ‘full war-footing’ not seen since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Progressive unionism, the KKK ferried over for the ‘fitba’, white protestant supremacists, on show, standing atop a war memorial giving Nazi salutes like it was 1939 and not 2014. Useful idiots, incapable of change, ignorant of all history, inculcated with hate, poisoned before they were knee-high, as their fathers were before. Victims themselves of transparent divide and rule, celebrating everyone elses subjugation, for a few scraps from their master’s table and the fatuous unsustainable belief such snivelling wretches as they, are some sort of master race. In what way are they progressive, still living in the 17th Century indicates clearly they’re the complete opposite? Comically reactionary living fossils, quite aware of their own plight, made and moulded for their bit part, no use for any other, thankfully never seen or heard from again after the first act. George Square was their encore before permanent retirement.

    It is over Dave, the union recedes into darkness as independence dawns bright, there is no going back to the shadows, being a non-country, a colony, an adjunct to English colonialism, a trophy on the unionist mantel, beneath the picture of King Billy. Let it go, get over it, whatever, think man, you can’t go back, it wasn’t ever that good anyway, come move forward with us. Don’t be left alone in a past that’s best forgotten.

  • Dave

    @ Tony M

    Your sense of anger, despair and disenfranchisement can be found throughout the land and even in London at Westminster occupation government on behalf of ‘everyone else’, but if so-called Scottish independence means membership of the EU rather than UK you’re just replacing one form of Unionism with another.

    Why not just reform the one you’re in and have a big say, rather than join another in which you will have little say and learn from the Greece experience? Even Westminster would not treat Scotland like Brussels has treated Greece, or are you going to inflate the horrors of the poll tax?

    Instead voting reform and devolution throughout the UK will transform the Union and even result in Eire re-joining an independent British Isles now their civil war is over.

  • Tony M

    I’m just one voter in millions. There is much to dislike about the EU. It is to be hoped very much that the EU will not treat Scotland as Westminster has, that is appallingly. On an in-out referendum I’m very much tending towards out, I never was one for tactical voting, instead voting against that which I think is harmful or wrong, instinctively. I can see however that as Independent Scotland, with ‘independent rUK’, both EU members we double our British Isles bloc within the EU at a stroke and where we have mutual interests our combined clout, owing to the increased representation at executive levels -in the Commission for example, we actually will wield more power as separate country states than as one. With as well as England and Scotland, we had Wales and Ireland too, our bloc’s strength is quadrupled. This is important too for the sake of the EU itself as the of handful newer member eastern-European states numerically outnumber a lone UK and could drag us all in unfortunate directions, such as allowing Russophobia and hangovers from the soviet era to crowd out common sense.

    The UK is incapable of reform, we’ve just seen in the Independence referendum, they have trouble even with the basic idea of democracy itself. The EU doesn’t look a whole lot better, but we’re willing to give it a chance, and our influence and status there with other members will be as equals and not as in the UK, some upstart junior-partner to be shouted down ridiculed and ignored.

  • Leslie

    Nice try Craig – but no. Seeing the SNP in glory at Holyrood and Westminster is like opening your Christmas presents before Christmas. Christmas day – independence – no longer has a point. We know what independence looks like – the same dreary government. Independence is that same government + risk. Not only that but the UK parties would be different in a second referendum debate. The embargo on the possibility of independence would be lifted. Parties would set about defining the UK reaction to, a presumed inevitable, independence. They would hardly bother to try and keep Scotland in the UK. There is a sense in which independence has become meaningless – whether achieved or not. All it is, is a change of management. The UK would seek to protect itself from the fallout – a border, no EU for Scotland, no currency union. None of these would prevent independence from being achieved – both sides agree on this. But what they do is make the timing of any second referendum crucial. When does Scotland want the problems? The conditions you need to create for the second referendum need to be the least painful for Scotland. That’s where you need to do your work – before the Regions of the UK shaft the lot of you.

  • Dave

    All leave campaigns need to overturn the fear of a fresh start and “isolation” and that’s why “independence in Europe” was promoted by the SNP as a “we’re not actually leaving, we’re staying”, but in a different Union.

    But joining a bigger Union reduces your influence and without your own currency you end up like Greece and more a threat to yourself than to the neo-con Westminster establishment as all Scots move south!

    I too agree with the nationalist principle of independence, but sometimes the national interest is served by being part of a bigger Union and works as long as the conditions are not onerous, particularly regarding migration.

    E.g. if as part of UK, Scotland’s population mildly changes from migration then no problem, but if as part of EU there is mass-migration then Scotland is out-voted from within rather than from Westminster.

    It may be politically prudent for the SNP to say “all welcome”, but as Scotland’s population is less than London’s hardly wise words from a “Scottish” independence party.

    The SNP has benefited from the anti-politics and localism and has become a successful mix of left and right voice of Scotland party, but independence is no longer a priority, because the national interest (and the SNP interest) is now best served with devolution in UK rather than in EU.

  • Jon

    A long time follower of Craig’s blog, BTL comments are often as engaging as the posts and help pass recovery days from seizures (the reason I don’t engage much in comment myself), but Fred’s persistent apparent ignorance peaks in this thread in his use of language at 4.13pm; working as I do in disability advocacy I am fully aware of hate speech and hate crime legality, in which those so abused do not need to be part of a minority group who the abuse would affect, it just needs to prove prejudice towards that group on the part of the perpetrator. The appropriate Acts also make specific provision for Internet and social media abuse…there is no call for it anywhere Fred and it heaps further shame on you and any validity your arguments may have carried!

  • Tony M

    Nice hearing from you Jon, always. I had an older brother who was a bit ‘slow’, he at one time got kept back a year in primary school. In later life, in his late teens and early twenties he never stopped learning though, wanted to improve and did so in leaps and bounds, later than his peers, and at his own pace. It wasn’t apparent to look at him, girls swooned at the sight, he was a big handsome lump of a lad. Taunts and abuse were thrown at him lifelong, but never took the bait, never lifted a hand to anyone in his life, though he could have put his tormentors through a wall, never uttered a bad word about anyone which wasn’t entirely justified. I wish had had the same patience and forbearance as he, for what he endured. Terms such as those used I too find particularly unpleasant and offensive.

  • Jon

    Thanks Tony, I would post or get involved more but generally when I have time to its when I am in a cluster wherein simple and complex seizures (I have between 30-120 every day) either render my hands useless or spoil the thread of cognition and coherence in following an argument, doesn’t mean I can’t when I’m able though and didn’t stop me getting a couple of degrees and PhD, as well as continuing to work and be a single parent…have only very recently been called both a ‘spaz’ and a ‘retard’ by people with very poor perception and understanding of my condition, as well as the prejudices their language would imply! It’s only been since 2010 that disability has been fully included in hate speech and hate crime law in Scotland, hopefully it hastens the day when we can genuinely have a neutral civic space in which all voices can be equal and language which would diminish the value of any citizen based on perception of their minority status is consigned to the dustbin of history!

    Your brother’s story was touching and clearly from a time when things were done differently, which he did, according to your reckoning, with dignity and aplomb, all power to him and thank you for sharing!

  • Green Flag

    ……….” Will even result in “Eire” (you mean Ireland, presumably) rejoining the UK”.
    No chance of that ever happening.
    Just as there is no chance of Finland ever rejoining The Kingdom of Sweden.

    Once Scotland achieves independence, there’s no rejoining the UK at any stage.

  • Green Flag

    Excellent book on the BBC bias on influencing the Scottish referendum.
    The sooner Scotland achieves independence the better for Scotland and join other small siccessful independent states in Europe.

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