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By Jason Michael
IN THE PAST FEW DAYS, I’ve gotten a bit of a whooping on social media over remarks I made on Barrhead Boy’s podcast Through a Scottish Prism. In fairness, it’s his podcast so I’m holding him responsible. Apparently, I was a tad too critical of Nicola Sturgeon and a little too pessimistic on the question of independence. Some listeners were disgruntled that our conversation had dropped shade on the First Minister and our prospects of independence, not – strangely enough – that they thought we were wrong. One commenter, ‘Tom,’ brought to my attention by Barrhead Boy, said: ‘We don’t need to listen to a couple of gloom and doom merchants…,’ and he’s right. No one needs to listen to anyone, but asking for social media page moderators to delete content because ‘it undermines the pro SNP stance’ of a site – not because it is incorrect – is the sort of attitude that sends a shiver down my back. Still, I do understand where Tom and people like him are coming from. Maybe we ought to thrash out what I said on the podcast and what I meant by it.
What I concluded was that right now we are in a terrible predicament regarding independence – and we are. In the podcast I think I used the word ‘crap,’ but I’d be happy to go further and upgrade that to an expletive. There has been no material change in our constitutional reality in the past six years, we are no nearer independence today than we were on 18 September 2014. In fact, if we are being honest, we could argue that we are considerably further from that goal than we were then. I get why this would upset people like Tom, I do. What I don’t get is why we should be forbidden from saying it. There are a few hard truths that need telling, and that is one of the reasons I write.
Let me first reiterate my position in this discussion. I am not a member of the Scottish National Party, and to be quite frank – given recent developments – I am glad I’m not. My political loyalty is to the independence of a Scottish Republic. Domiciled in Dublin, Ireland, and a member of Sinn Féin, my political struggle – which is not everyone’s, I understand – is against the British state; meaning my interest is in removing Britain from Ireland and breaking Britain’s back with Scottish and Welsh independence. For me, these are all theatres in the same conflict. I am not loyal to the SNP, and nor am I loyal to Nicola Sturgeon. My loyalty is to Scotland, to the Republic, and to the people of Scotland. I am content to support the SNP and work with Nicola Sturgeon so long as we are working towards the same goal. When that is not how I see things going, I’m happy to plough my own furrow.
My patience – personally speaking – with the Scottish National Party ran out when, while on a talking tour of Scotland, unionist politicians and the unionist media collaborated to paint a picture of me in the press as a member or at least a supporter of the Irish Republican Army; a set of statements which resulted in me being detained under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act at Cairnryan port. The SNP’s Maree Todd was of course available to support these claims by describing my opinions as ‘abhorrent’ in the Daily Mail – that most Scottish of rags. In the days that followed, after requesting some support from SNP MSPs and MPs, the message from high command was to unfollow me and give me the cold shoulder. I was chucked under the bus by my so-called political allies. Trust me, I will never make that mistake with the SNP ever again.
But I wasn’t alone. In the past few years, the SNP has made something of a habit of throwing people – independence activists – under the bus; Michelle Thomson, Grouse Beater, Neale Hanvey, Denise Findlay, and Alex Salmond – to name a few. Loyalty to the SNP, it seems, is a dangerous thing – especially when the current leadership appears more than delighted to crucify anyone who challenges the very strange dogmas of the party. In recent months the SNP has adopted a politically weaponised definition of antisemitism which both the United Nations and the European Union have rejected on the grounds that it hampers legitimate criticism of the State of Israel. It looks like the SNP has forgotten that the overwhelming majority of the independence movement in Scotland is working class and left leaning. No one on the left is going to buy this definition. Support for Palestine is a pillar of the left precisely because Israel is a vicious and merciless neoliberal colonial aggressor – not at all unlike the United Kingdom. Adopting the pro-Israel IHRA definition, as far as keeping the left on board, was a monumental act of self-harm for the SNP.
Then we have the GRA, the Gender Recognition Act – Mother of God! – the mother and father of all political timebombs. Look, forget this nonsense about ‘keeping our eyes on the prize.’ You cannot win a democratic independence debate when in other areas you are working around the clock to alienate women, their allies, and the entire political left. There is no independence for Scotland unless the political ‘vehicle’ can carry the majority of the electorate. In the past six years, the SNP has been doing almost everything it can to sever its bonds of goodwill and affection with various elements of the independence movement. A winning formula this is not.
Our government said it would not tolerate a power grab, that it would not stand for Scotland being taken out of the European Union against the democratic will of the Scottish people. It has had mandate after mandate to move forward with independence. It had the support to resist the British state over Brexit. We watched as the United Kingdom staggered from one constitutional crisis to another – and in the end we got sweet feck all. Don’t shoot the messenger! Don’t discount what I’m saying just because it hurts your feelings. It hurts my feelings too. Rather than letting your emotions dictate your position, think – is what I’m saying true? You’ll find it is.
What’s more, our government, our First Minister handed the right to grant or refuse a Section 30 order over to Westminster – something that had never been law before. We can talk all we want about the Claim of Right and the sovereignty of the Scottish people, these things count for nothing in London. The architects of union don’t give a monkey’s for Scotland’s quaint little notions. What matters in London, regarding England’s hegemony over Scotland, Wales, and the six counties, is the law of the United Kingdom – the legal narrative of England’s dominion over us. There is no peaceful, democratic route to independence for Scotland except through England and Britain’s law – and we handed that over as a gift to the British government.
But I don’t believe even this is a route to independence. So long as the prerogative is England’s, the goalposts will always be shifted to ensure our imprisonment in perpetuity. So yes, it is true – we are further now from independence than we were six years ago, and we put ourselves in this position, and we did it because we were too afraid to speak out and speak up against an SNP – or a leading faction within the SNP – that has completely given up on the idea of independence. Yes, our situation is terrible. It is completely crap. It is shit. But it is not beyond redemption.
As I have said, I am content to work with the SNP and its leadership so long as we are on the same road. Right now, we are not – and we aren’t. If other heads prevail in the party and it changes its course, then I am with it. If not, then I remain loyal to an independent Scottish Republic and I will seek that end by other means. The SNP is not our only hope. It never has been. Nicola Sturgeon is not the messiah. She never has been. We have to get rid of this infantile impatience. History is long, and if needs be, we can take a longer road to independence – because longer is infinitely better than never.
Independence must be our priority; meaning our choice of political representation and the time we devote to it must be put to the service of this priority. If it takes a hundred years and a whole new party, then so be it. Independence is the goal, not our party loyalties, political crushes, and schedules. Independence comes first, and it feels to me like we have lost sight of that simple truth. At the present moment, it looks as though we have come to a dead end with a party in a hurry to sink all our chances. Its behaviour is enough to make a cynical republican suspicious. So, if there’s rats on the deck – it’s time to let loose the cats.
35 thoughts on “Independence: What Next?”
I didn’t see the podcast that you write about but, reading your article/comments on its outcome, I can’t disagree with you. I’ve been an independence supporter all of my adult life, I’m near retirement, and joined the SNP in 2014. I am disappointed at the lack of forward momentum since 2014 and since the vote on brexit. I don’t feel that I can cancel my membership because the unionist parties would take great pleasure if people started to leave the SNP. I’m not suggesting that you are asking people to cancel their membership, I was just making my thoughts known. We’re not a million miles away from gaining Scottish Independence but we definitely have stalled. FM Nicola Sturgeon had been open and upfront on the Coronavirus and I’d like to see the same openness to the people of Scotland over independence but perhaps this is not the optimum time to do that.
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It’s time for Mr & Mrs Murrell to go and go quietly, and where they go I don’t give a hoot, maybe London would be best suited. Our best hope lies with Joanna Cherry, Mr Salmond and WingsoverScotland setting up a new political party, which my family would i sign up to straight away. To me, Nicola Sturgeon is no more than a British poodle. The FM knew putting all her eggs in one basket, on a section 30 order, she was pushing Independence into the long grass, and by doing this we all should have questioned her loyalty to the cause of Independence, when this course of action suited the British stated even more. The FM had entirely given the right of the sovereign people of Scotland and placed their future in the hands of the British state, and killed any chance of Scotland being an Independent country again. Ever since she has taken over the only advice she is willing to take is her own advice, and she totally disregarding the delegates at conference with regards to currency. Nicola has made one mistake after another, on the day of the Manchester bombing she decided to cancel a debate that would have allowed all those EU power to come back to Scotland, but instead by cancelling the debate gave the British state the option to pass their own bill which then allowed the supreme court to make the ruling it did on the continuity bill. The FM is weak on the press and the media as a whole, she never ever marched in a AUOB and if I was a EU citizens I wouldn’t believe a word she says. She spent the last four year wasting time trying to keep England in the EU, when England voted to leave the EU, and we had the Tories in a minority Government who weren’t getting anything passed, and then she allowed a general election, when Angus McNeil stated, we have them on the ropes and just weeks away from having a further vote on a peoples vote. What exactly has the FM achieved while being the FM and the leader of the SNP, nothing, she is holding Scotland back. If Scotland and its people want Independence we need to fight for it and Sturgeon and her Husband aren’t it, its time for the Yes movement to move on and start the case for Independence which Sturgeon has put on hold and to leave the Murrells behind i’ll gladly pay for there bus travel to live in England.
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I can’t agree with all that you’ve written but I certainly agree with your point on a more independence focused leadership. I thought that it was off when Alex Salmond stepped down and Nicola Sturgeon became the new leader. I had my doubts over her appointment but I was won over because she appeared to be doing a good job. I still like her as a politician, debator, figurehead for the SNP, but, we don’t seem to be gaining any ground towards the goal of Scottish Independence and don’t like that.
Idealism is forever coming up against practicalities and human nature.
Revolutionary ardour can do wonders while it lasts. We can sustain a high moral level through enthusiasm and hope. If, however, the leaders of a movement for a better society take it nowhere but around in circles, a natural frustration saps our energy. People lose sight of the ideal among internal bickering over how to break free from inertia. The problem of power is the root problem of all revolutions, who has it and who is squandering or
abusing it. In time, if all is not to be lost, some one, or some group, has to arise to take over the reigns.
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The grassroots SNP folk that I know have no patience for the sabotage (deliberate or accidental) that the cabal leading the SNP are engaged in.
The cabal’s actions have been perfect for the Union.
If the grassroots can get a chance to be heard (not certain) the party can be salvaged -unless they are still asleep to this danger.
If not, then it’s a longer route.
Stuart Campbell does not naturally have the skills of a politician and a great deal of British effort has gone into making him toxic to the general public, so I’m not sure if a Wings Party would work.
A split in the SNP may be damaging but it might be the best route to clear out the cabal.
It’s a pity that there won’t be a conference for some time
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Thank you for speaking the truth and I fully agree with all the points made in this blog. I was one of the many thousands who joined the SNP following the 2014 referendum, energised and hopeful for an independent Scotland. I have campaigned, marched and funded blogs and other indy media, feeling convinced that independence was within our grasp. Like so many others in the movement, I was a former Labour voter who rejected the party after the Iraq war revealed their true colours – just another party of the right wing neoliberal imperialist British establishment. Having been bitten once, I am starting to see that the SNP is going down the same road as New Labour, so I cancelled my membership a couple of months ago. I believe they have been infiltrated and neutered and I believe Nicola Sturgeon is content to run a devolved government. I still believe in Scottish independence (and Irish unity and Welsh independence). Having seen the leaked Labour report which revealed a cabal working within the movement to prevent Corbyn becoming prime minister, I feel that the corruption and deceit of the British state has corroded the SNP in a similar way. There are too many careerists and single issue entryists in the SNP who have no interest in achieving independence for Scotland.
What disturbs me is that for all their talk of democracy the SNP seem determined to force unwanted legislation on us. First the utterly infantile and unscientific, even delusional, GRA reform, changing the definition of woman in the representation of sex equality on boards, and now the Thought Crime Bill. Authoritarian social engineering based on the premises of queer theory. No thank you!
Exactly, the Sturgeon led SNP are far too afraid of the Unionist press and far too quick to throw committed members and supporters under the bus to quiet the press who are our enemies who likely won’t be reconciled after Independence even. Pace The Scotsman under the Barclay Brothers and Andrew Neil after Devolution. A pox on all of their houses. We can only hope the virus causes at least the Hootsmon to die a long deserved death. Something else will rise in its place. Nature abhors a vacuum.
Sturgeon has become an enemy of Independence and we will not progress unless and until she is gone. Either an enraged, betrayed Salmond gets her or Joanna Cherry will or the Rev Stu will carry out his threat and take the sensible part of the SNP with him. Such a party will have my List vote which formerly went to the now Uber Woke Greens. Absent a Wings party I may have to spoil both my ballots next year.
I cannot disagree with much that you say. I was hounded out of one branch by a neo Tory Convener for being too radical and refusing to be her lap dog.
Take this to top level of the party, you have the Alex Salmond case and now Craig Murray.
I don’t think it will take very much to cave the hierarchy once covid issue subsides and demand for Independence now grows when we see the diabolical mess, incompetence and culpable homicide caused by UK government becomes even clearer.
The path to Independence is no further than it was 2014.
But it could take an exponential leap forwards by 2021.
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I don’t think Nicola has done anything wrong during the Covid Crisis, in the eyes of the British media and the UK government. That fact should trouble everyone who believes in independence. She is doing what she has always done. Courted the approval of the country she is supposed to be breaking away from.
This is Nicola Sturgeon , this is what she is! Not a radical, not a rebel rouser , not an agitator. She is a compliant member of the UK PLC. A manager of Devolution.
When Salmond lets rip! I will not expect her to be the leader after 2021.
Great stuff, thanks Jason. Never give up.
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Couldn’t agree more, well written and long overdue. I’m short on patience though! We are crying out for some fresh ideas to end this impass. The SNP leadership offers just more of the same, tired, a busted flush. The independence movement needs the SNP but not in its current form.
Reblogged this on Ramblings of a 50+ Female.
I can only but shake my head at the enthusiasm of some for a Cull of the current Leadership of the SNP. To even associate or suggest any physical action,in anyway, of getting round the existing legal framework to achieve Independence, would, I suggest, be wrong. The days and actions of Wallace and Bruce are long gone. I ask many to reflect on the actions of Mahatma Gandhi, who used brains, subtlety and cunning legal means to bring about the exodus of tyrany, plunder and deceit by GB from his country and ultimately achieved Indian Independence. I had to frown at the convert to the SNP by one contributor who was a bit disappointed little or no effective action by the SNP since 2014 had occurred. In my enthusiam to support Independence since 1957, I, and many before me, would be, and were, thrilled to see a majority of 53 seats at WM out of 59 to nearly break the tape. But that majority alone does not guarantee a victory. The break must be achieved without “a shot being fired, a life lost and legally won” in the eyes of World opinion. Just remember, WM is legally the supreme legal authority in this UK and can create or end any Law. Since 1707 that has been the case and that’s the case we have to destroy. It can only be done with an acceptable majority of the Scottish People and I’m not qualified legally to say what that majority would be. But accepted it must be. Frustrated some are. After 63 years working as best I can for independence, include me in that grouping. However, I have witnessed the massive progress that has been made since 1999. We have seen off the once dominant Labour Party in Scotland, aligned and acquiesced by the bribes of London, left others in our wake, and now have only to defeat a duplicitous gang of unionists,unfit to bear the name of “Scottish” to their malignant reputation over generations. They must defeated and defeated utterly, then Independence is assured. This will not happen if a DIVIDED party in Scotland is created out of haste and uncoordinated policies by a restless few.
To enable Scotland to achieve independence we have to fight the unionist Tory supporters, The Orange Lodge, The Masons and the Queen. To win that independence we will need to lose the idea we can soft talk the English rabble and its supporters. The IRA had to fight for it and so will Scotland.
“The break must be achieved without “a shot being fired, a life lost and legally won” in the eyes of World opinion. Just remember, WM is legally the supreme legal authority in this UK and can create or end any Law. The break must be legally won, but not under British legality. It must be legal under International Law. https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2020/01/westminster-cannot-block-scottish-independence/amp/?__twitter_impression=true&fbclid=IwAR39viKPkIbp60Gxyjtw8Z9aOWi5k2RdBjKYgCQrdqQzBULzaupqtYPtXwI
Westminster is not the supreme legal authority. The written part of the Constitution is the supreme legal authority which limits Westminster’s ability to make laws; the Treaty of Union and the Act of Union.
“ What’s more, our government, our First Minister handed the right to grant or refuse a Section 30 order over to Westminster – something that had never been law before.‘’
That’s a very interesting bit of information. When did that happen? How did it happen? Was that the Edinburgh agreement, is that what you mean? Are you saying that Alex Salmond gave Cameron the right to refuse a Section 30 order?
No, Nicola Sturgeon did.
Thanks Jason! But how many of the SNPs grass-root supporters are aware of the rot?
Get the Britnat saboteurs out of the Scotgov/SNP NOW.
Too many SNP members (particularly ex British Labour in Scotland members ) just cannot handle the truth. Independence is the cause not loyalty to an individual or a political party.
Agreed to a point. Although I believe SNP is still the proper structure to take us to Independence. SNP was and always is the party of Independence it’s at the heart of its constitution and its support base, unfortunately at this time the SNP hierarchy has went soft on Independence to allow it to function as a devolved parliament.. nothing wrong with it getting on with the day job 😈😈😈 but the SNP need to be parallel and separate from the day job which has no connection to the establishment at Holyrood. We need also rid the hierarchy at SNP HQ, Murrell, McCann and their careerist flunkies they need to retire, put out to pasture. We need the return of Alex Salmond in control of the broader YES movement and the SNP HQ in partnership with Joanna Cherry as chief legal Strategist. Joanna should also be ready as FM in waiting, ready to replace Nicola when the establishment try to crucify her… note at this point it is better keeping Nicola at the top getting on with the day job.
The legal team headed by Joanna backed up by Alex as head of SNP HQ and at the front and centre of the pro indy movement at full speed ahead for Independence the I believe we would be free within a year…
Contrary to what some believe, I feel that the Wings Party or similar option could still be of use.
In traditional railway operation, when a train stalled on a heavy climb, it was standard practice to send another engine to give the whole train a shove to the summit of the climb from the rear.
When the summit was reached, the engine would drop off and the train would be off on its way.
A list party would perform the same function in relation to the SNP.
I don’t see it as a rival to the SNP, but an enabler.
I do think we need regime change at the top of the party.
It feels churlish to make this claim at the point where the FM is probably having her ‘finest hour’ but as others have commented above, I’m not convinced she’s as committed to independence as we are.
I’m refraining from further comment though until this emergency is past and Alex Salmond goes public.
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Considering Sturgeon’s churlish failure to even pick up the phone after the last Holyrood election and call Patrick Harvey and explore options from a confidence and supply agreement (common for Green parties across the world) through to a formal coalition. She was simply grumpy that the SNP had done so much better so had moved off the electoral sweet spot which gave them a majority into too many constituencies making it harder to get List seats. Also the Greens had picked up more seats on the List due to those of us pointing this mathematical risk out.
With the Greens now more strongly pro GRA than the SNP we need another credible Yes party on the List. The Rev Stu says he has a large number of well kent names with public recognition keen to stand. So the Margo effect is possible as well.
Jason, I can’t find a single word in this article to disagree with. Nor in majority of the comments that followed.
Surprised there is no mention of the Coronavirus Bill
“To this end, the government is set to place restrictions on our rights to liberty, privacy and to protest, among others.
Civil liberties group Big Brother Watch has described the Act as containing the “most draconian powers in peace-time Britain”.
While Amnesty International has warned that “emergency powers can sometimes be misused, and this must not give a green light to trample on our basic human rights and liberties”.
My take on this, for what it’s worth ,the Scotish Government wasted valuable time trying to save the UK, English government from a disastrous brexit when we should have been putting the boot into a weakened Westminster.😡🏴
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Been taking pelters in FB for sayong the same truths. But its my party…its been taken over…and I have watched the power transfer from Branches to the few for at least ten years. However I felt it worth it if it meant independence sooner. Only after I saw the latent YES movement garroted after Alex resigned did I feel the twinges of anxiety. No AUOB or YES would be allowed to share power with the SNP. But…there are now many questioning current strategy…or non strategy of our leadership and the silencing of any MSP or MP with a modicum of potential to lead. But…Alex Salmond will publish the dirty deeds done by party employees and nominated SPADs. The route to indy needs the lead to be taken back again by us Fundies…a term of amusement to those who use the Nationalist cause as a meal ticket. Shame on them.
“If it takes a hundred years and a whole new party, then so be it.”….You’re kidding right??
No, but of course I hope it’s a lot sooner.
Couldn’t agree more with your analysis Jason.
The SNP leadership has let the side down, has gone soft on independence. But that is maybe no surprise and of course recent events expose the very dark hand of the British state.
To some it may come as a slow realisation but what we are seeing here is a war. Not a physical fighting war, but a war nevertheless where the power of the state apparatus is deployed to destroy political opposition.
Alex Salmond’s trial was a stitch up. Part of a decapitation strategy to stop people like Alex reinvigorating a deliberately stalled independence party at a time when independence could be won.
Year after year the hostile MSM played its part changing hearts and minds against independence. But it has not worked. The demand for independence is now higher than it was in the 2014 referendum whilst the SNP have subsequently secured mandate after mandate. And so, with the Union weaker than it has ever been it is not difficult to see how the secret war has broken cover to start using the more overt apparatus of state against those who would push for independence.
The gargantuan police investigation into forty years of Salmonds life and the interview of over four hundred people, the preparation by the Crown Office of thirteen flimsy charges is but one thing. But now they go after Craig Murray. And the police harrying of bloggers and the raid on the house of another journalist to seize computers and phones is more of the same overt action.
Or what of those who would organise the huge independence marches.Charged and or cautioned by Police for alleged civic infringements, more of the same again.
These are tactics straight out of the Brigadier General Sir Frank Kitson manual on how to combat political opponents. That we are now seeing the more overt tactics of what hitherto had been a secret war, I think we can now take it that independence could be nearer, much nearer than we think, and that the establishment is worried.
And that too is why the internet is being interfered with. Where people Stuart Campbell , Craig Murray and others are now closed having their Twitter accounts suspended. Silencing and censorship of political comment is the way and it is a war.
But this is a war we can win. Even the most repressive regimes fall in the end. But a least now more of us understand that it is a war, that it always has been, but that now it’s coming out into the open.
And if we know that we can win.
I truly cannot wait to get home and join the fight.
Meanwhile, I believe we need a new 79 Group to wrestle back our control of our party from the Neolib Trojans…
This has brought tears..Truth has that effect. It does something to you.
We have been screaming your words here, Jason for a long six years and need to see them written..
You’ve covered it all.
Now., Whats to be done?
What you write is so true, and sad.
There is something rotten in the SNP, that’s sad too. Up until fairly recently I blindly believed in them. Then I was attacked, in a similar fashion to Alex Salmond actually, by one of their one-sided illegal biased and botched investigations. Since then I have read much and what I thought was an isolated incident against me is clearly not, its how they operate. They are all we have at present to take us to Independence but I worry what kind of country I would be living in governed solely by SNP.
It pains me that I may die while we are still in the union, but maybe the long game is a better plan.
Unite all the fractions;
Instill the pride;
Take the war to the English;
Expose our God given rights to all both constantly and forcefully to Saor Alba;
And let’s be a nation again.
I have to admit I’m upset by what I have read! But I can see where you are coming from and can see also where Scotland should be headed. Home truths can be upsetting. I live South of the border, but my loyalties being a Scott. are for Scotland breaking free. My hopes are that a more democratic Scotland showing that there is another way could influence the people of England enough to demand change down here.