By Jason Michael

AT SOME LEVEL dominance requires the compliance of the dominated. In every conquest and occupation in human history the success of the occupier has relied to a greater or lesser extent on the compliance and acquiescence of the defeated, of the subjugated. Such compliance is not the same as the wilful assistance of the invader or collaboration for personal or political gain, rather it occurs at a deeper level of the national psyche; it is the acceptance of foreign rule for the sake of peace. Compliance is an acceptance of the new order and the preparedness of the subjugated to play by the rules of the subjugator. This state of compliance, once it has become the normative operation of the occupied or colonised, is the mark sine qua non of the defeat of a people. No nation or people can be said to be truly defeated until it has become completely compliant to the wishes of its conqueror. In short, the dominated must always acquiesce to their domination by another.

Scotland, whether we like to think this or not, is the epitome of a compliant nation. Since the Act of Union in 1707, Scotland has been a willing partner in its own subjugation, to its complete and utter domination by the English state. Over the course of the past three centuries our civic and political life has been shaped by our subservience – the subservience of our cultural and political leaders – to the whims of a foreign government. The union settlement, more than anything else in our recent history, has informed our response to the present constitutional crisis. Conditioned like Pavlov’s dogs or the tethered elephant, we have been feeling our way towards independence unaware that our self-imposed compliance to London makes our freedom impossible.

Stu Campbell of Wings Over Scotland has suggested the creation of a new pro-independence party to run for list seats in the Holyrood parliament, a strategy which – if successful – could give us a pro-independence supermajority in the devolved legislature and an idea I myself have aired in the past but with little success. The idea of such a party is brilliant, but the journeymen of the National Party and their supporters are outraged – ‘It would split the vote!’ they shout. But it wouldn’t. It would simply take from the Conservatives, Labour, and the Liberal Democrats the seats they win with a paltry number of ballots. In this outrage I see nothing but compliance, a sure sign that at least the leadership of the SNP and its prevailing tactical thinking are unfit for purpose.

I am past the point of using this blog for popularity, so I suggest you buckle up. The Scottish National Party is a composite beast; there are many in its ranks who are indeed in this for independence, but they are out-numbered and out-gunned by the journeymen and the purists – those of the old tradition of a Home Rule party for Scotland. Home Rule, as it was in Ireland before us, is compliance writ large. It is the abject acceptance of the political domination of Scotland to England and the English royal and political establishment. Home Rule has never been the route to independence. It is merely the acceptance of another prisoner category. Federalism, in any form, is a trap. It is another, cosier, political settlement which invariably leads to a longer period of subjugation. Scotland’s independence movement has moved beyond Home Rule and the lure of federalism. This is a movement for independence that begins and ends with the independence of Scotland. Frustratingly, the Scottish National Party has, as yet, failed to realise this.

We are forced to ask ourselves what a non-compliant independence movement looks like. If independence begins and ends with the independence of Scotland then it must of necessity begin with the symmetric opposite of compliance – defiance. Our decision to defy Britain and its claim to the ownership of Scotland and Scottish lives must be absolute. From its inception it must reject every claim – moral and political – of England over us. Independence presupposes freedom, and we cannot have independence until we decide to be free. Given the immediacy of the threat of Brexit and the consequences this will have for Scotland, our decision to be free has to be made right now. This is what a non-compliant pro-independence political party will do.

A new party has no option but to be Republican and abstentionist. How can we be free people seeking the independence of our country when we are bound to a monarchy and the same unelected monarch as the country that holds us in chains? How can we seek independence and freedom while sitting in a foreign parliament – the parliament that is the physical embodiment of our national incarceration – and swearing an oath of allegiance to the sovereign of that parliament – the Crown? Such absurdities and contradictions will forever demand resolution, and their resolution will always be determined by the most powerful side of the equation – England. Independence in its truest and most powerful sense begins only when we commit ourselves to the cause of a free and independent Scottish Republic and refuse to sit in the parliament of our so-called masters.

At the heart of this there must be a singular act of defiance in which the political party itself transcends the cause for independence. In itself it becomes the foetus of an independent Scottish Republic; declaring itself from the moment of its creation the Provisional Government of the Scottish Republic. In this it calls to itself all the children of Scotland equally and without distinction of place of birth, language, religion, or any other marker which separates one human being from another. The Provisional Government of the Republic – while it remains a party – is neither right nor left, but singular in its motive and object. Moreover, it assumes to itself by moral right the sovereignty of the Scottish people and all the obligations that that entails, supreme among them the sovereign right to defend the Republic from every act of foreign aggression.

This is the party I want, and my reasoning is simple: Only by our firm rejection of British domination and the absolute defiance of the Scottish people to be ruled from London – our refusal to play by anyone’s rules but our own – will we gain an independence that is truly independent from beginning to end. This is what the SNP is incapable of becoming – at least with regard to its leading factions – precisely because, as a Home Rule party at its core, it is a compliant instrument. This compliance will forever, as we have seen, find itself knotted up in an endless game of chasing the tail – where England changes the goalposts continually. Personally, I am tired of the British political game it is playing. At this point, the miseries to which we are subjected by Westminster have become our own choice because we have elected to play the game of compliance. This changes only when we begin to play the better game of defiance.


The McCluskey Brothers – John Maclean March

032 001

8 thoughts on “The Compliant

  1. F ME!
    Your travel of the boarder must have put the wind up ya. Sometimes the miasma is palpable and it is a visceral warning of what approaches.

    If the SNP only leads to a grumblingly, but willingly acquiescence to suffering NoDeal brutality…then each and every YES needs to seriously question if the SNP is a party of Indy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Jason – Glad that you have written another article as I have missed your particular viewpoint lately. On this occasion though, I have to disagree with you. I appreciate what you are saying and I do agree in part with your assessment of ‘compliance’ but your solution is one that appeals to you – it doesn’t appeal to me. It doesn’t appeal to me because it is unnecessary. If Scotland wants to be independent then quite simply it requires a majority of us to vote for it. That is all. Its our job to persuade enough people that independence is the way forward. I do not know whether a wings-style party would work for or against the movement. It will split the vote though – no matter what you say – could be positive, could be negative, who can say? With regard to the monarchy, this is an old chestnut that rears its irrelevant head every so often – who cares about them? In a strange way it is those that vehemently oppose the monarchy that give it ‘power’. The Crown and the Crown in Parliament are a constitutional fudge which like the monarchy itself are an historical anachronism that can be dealt with in due course. YOU make them important but, its votes that are important.

    You take the Sinn Féin line of refusing to “sit in the parliament of our masters” and where would that get you? Its done a fat lot of good for NI staying in the EU. It is also a tactic that lacks consistency in that by taking their seats in Stormont they recognise the secondary nature of that parliament – a UK institution after all. I am glad that they do take their seats there but, they might as well take them at Westminster too. Can you imagine the different dynamic if they did so? Can you imagine May and the DUP getting such a soft treatment with Sinn Féin, Plaid and SNP together? Where is the voice for their constituents (not just their supporters)?

    Yes, I am as frustrated as anyone else at the seemingly slow movement by SNP towards independence and the approach they are publicly taking but we are on the brink here lets not be rash without a proper assessment of what we are doing. The only ‘expert’ I know of in this area is James Kelly and he puts forward a good argument against the Rev’s idea – as I said in the comments section of WOS think Gorbachev not Yeltsin.


    1. You take the loyal oath if you want, but I won’t. Where did it get NI? There is no NI. There are 32 counties in Ireland. Abstention gained independence for 26 and 6 remain occupied. The process continues and we are closer now to a unity referendum than Scotland is to any form of independence.


  3. It looks as if there will soon be a General Election. It seems to me a way to go is for the SNP, the Greens, and the Socialist party, make their platform, a majority of independence Candidates Elected will be authorisation for them to withdraw from the English parliament of the UK, unite with the Scottish Parliament, resile the Treaty of Union with England and revoke the Act of Union with England. Then they should take the proper steps as an independent state.
    if the English government of the UK suspends or otherwise disables the Scottish Parliament before a General Election, then it should refuse to stand down and follow the appropriate steps to resile the Treaty and revoke the Act.


  4. Hello again Jason
    I know you are a historian but I think your response about abstention is a bit of a simplification of what happened in Ireland – and there is a NI whether you or I, or anyone else likes it or not. Your response about Irish unification versus Scottish independence is based on nothing – certainly not on polling (38% of the NI public in favour of referendum 45% against. 45% NO to unity 32% YES 23% DK compare that to roughly 50/50 in Scotland) nor does it square with the recent remarks of Varadkar . Yes, I do think that it will happen at some point but it won’t be because of SF abstention, it will be a direct cause of Brexit. Abstention does nothing. It is as effective as opposition parties that don’t take part in elections – they lose. All around the world these gestures lose. You wrote an excellent piece ‘What working class’ a few months ago castigating the labour party for “old timey fist banging rhetoric (that) would have us think we are stuck in a Groundhog Day loop somewhere between 1901 and 1950” – are you not guilty of this too stuck in old timey gesture politics and behaviour of circa 1921? The oath is ceremony – half of the politicians don’t even realise the underlying historical gravity of such an oath, and they don’t need to.

    I don’t need to take the loyal oath nor do you but, in the course of things it means nothing. Communists never had any real problem with it. Socialists had no real problem with it. There are plenty of UK republicans who have graced Westminster without a problem. The oath means nothing.

    Scotland may or may not become independent but, really it is for the people to choose and all we need is a majority and a mechanism to express that majority. Section 30 may seem an obstacle but not insurmountable as there are a number of mechanisms open to Scotland to achieve this desirable outcome. Only then will we see whether the velvet divorce is possible. Personally, I do not think it will be easy. There will be tears. No-one has left the UK without a fight – I don’t think it will be any different for us. Internationally, we must be seen not to be the one who has precipitated any violence – we can leave that to others. we have walked a peaceful path and should do so until the end. That end is more likely to be UDI but you follow the route to the end. we are nearly there – hold the line.


  5. Gradualism has had it’s day (if it ever was the right road).

    I share your sense of urgency. Brexit will give the British an excuse to behave more badly.

    I’ll campaign for the SNP under an ‘Independence Now’ or similar core message but I’ve had enough of ‘Stronger for Scotland’. I’m really not sure what point there is in individual SNP branches sending delegates to conference in October unless Independence is the core of the conference. If the SNP cannot do that it is not surprising that the vacuum will be filled.

    It was timidity and sheepishness about Independence that cost seats in the last GE (from an almost impossible to repeat peak).

    Use the mandate(s) or loose them -and our support.


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