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By Jason Michael

THE CHATTER ON SOCIAL MEDIA from Nicola Sturgeon’s most loyal followers, over the last few days, has been rather disturbing. We now find ourselves – the whole of the independence movement, that is – in the uncomfortable spot where in a judicial review the Scottish government has been found to have acted unlawfully in its handling of complaints against Alex Salmond. It is now accepted and well known that someone in the First Minister’s inner circle criminally leaked internal government details of his case to the Daily Record – a unionist tabloid, and that people inside the Scottish government, working with the Crown Office, collaborated with members of the British government-appointed civil service in what now looks very much like a criminal conspiracy to have Mr Salmond, the former First Minister of Scotland, convicted of dubious charges (the government’s own legal counsel advised that the government’s case was ‘unstateable’) and imprisoned.

This is not the stuff of opinion or speculation. These are the facts, and we have to deal with the facts. So far, it does appear as though we are dealing with the facts – which is to say we have accepted them, but quite how we are dealing with them has exposed a serious problem; Sturgeon’s closest lieutenants have circled the wagons and closed ranks, and her most ardent supporters are chirping the message that the effort to win a majority in May is a more pressing concern than facing up to what such a conspiracy might imply. No one – or very few, it must be added, are now denying that these are the facts, that the Scottish government did all this. But rather than taking a long, hard look in the mirror, the faithful are prepared to accept the truth, ignore it, and plough ahead regardless.

Their attitude is essential this: Who cares? By paying this scandal any attention we risk losing an all-important SNP majority in the upcoming elections and thereby jeopardise the promised referendum and independence.

They are prepared to prioritise this majority and the achievement of independence over and against truth and justice. No doubt, many readers will not see the problem here. After all, independence is what we want and we are willing to win independence ‘by any means necessary,’ right? Well, we have to be careful – there are different kinds of independence, and some kinds of independence are simply not worth having – because, and this may come as a shock, there are worse political realities than being an English colony (bear with me).

…an independence established on the lofty ideal of ‘the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs.’

It is important to stress that I believe in Scottish independence and desperately want independence. The independence I want is that of a Scottish Republic – not everyone’s cup of tea – and an independence established on the lofty ideal of ‘the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs (Claim of Right, 1989);’ an independence that will bring about the conditions required to forge a better future for everyone in Scotland. Under no circumstances I am prepared to compromise aught of these conditions.

Independence ‘at any cost’ and under any set of conditions is a profoundly dangerous idea, and there is no shortage of historical examples to help us understand this. There are, as I have said umpteen times in the past, different kinds of independence. Sure, it’s an extreme example, but North Korea is an ‘independent’ state, but there are few in Scotland today would prefer the conditions of life for the vast majority of North Koreans to life in a political union with England. And while this is, admittedly, an extreme example, the one common thread that runs through all the historical examples of undesirable independences is the matter of compromise. When peoples and nations compromise the better angels of their natures, as a matter of expedience, to gain their freedom, what, in the end, they achieve is neither freedom nor true independence.

Before the outbreak of the Second World War – in the same historical milieu in which the Scottish National Party was formed, when the Nazis overran and created the Reich’s Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia – present day Czechia and then the western part of Czecho-Slovakia, the small nation of Slovakia seized the opportunity to declare its own independence. Knowing full well Hungary, Poland, and Germany had their eyes on Slovak territory, the Slovaks under the leadership Jozef Tiso understood their independence would depend on the support of their most powerful neighbour – Hitler’s Germany. So, independence at any price for the first Slovak Republic meant acquiescing to the Third Reich’s condition that it become a vassal state and an ally of the Reich; guaranteeing it security from its neighbours to the south and west. Tiso, a priest, was under no illusions what being a puppet to Nazi Germany would mean. He and 2.6 million Slovaks knew perfectly well their ‘independence’ would require the compromise of their values, and the decision to make this compromise led to the introduction of antisemitic laws and the eventual deportation of Slovakia’s Jews to Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1942 – an appalling episode in which the Slovak government organised the transports and paid Germany 500 Reichsmarks for every Jew taken.

Thankfully, the campaign for Scottish independence is not faced with this compromise. But we are in real danger of being asked to compromise our values; to compromise our highest ideals as a people and a nation in order to secure an independence. This is a deal with the devil reasoning whereby we are prepared to sacrifice certain of our virtues with a view to them magically being restored ‘after May’ or ‘after independence.’ Yet, one does not need to be familiar with the story of Rumpelstiltskin to appreciate that such deals never pan out.

Still, this was exactly the reasoning of Chris McCusker, the vice-convener of the SNP Socialists NEC. Despite acknowledging his allegiance to Ms Sturgeon in his social media bio, he accepts the facts of the Scottish government’s present predicament, and yet he argues:

Why can’t the bloggers join in for the calls for unity & solidarity? Then expose any corruption after we achieve a super majority for the next term of office. Plenty of time for recrimination after we get it.

– ‘Nicola’s No1 Comrade‘ on Twitter

Doesn’t this thinking remind of us of that dialogue between the Duke of Norfolk and Thomas More in Robert Bolt’s masterpiece, A Man for All Seasons (1960), where Norfolk pleads with More to betray his conscience and sign the document that will cast the Pope from England and establish Henry VIII as the head of the church:

DUKE OF NORFOLK: …damn it, Thomas, look at those names … You know those men! Can’t you do what I did, and come with us, for fellowship?
SIR THOMAS MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?

A Man for All Season (Act Two), Robert Bolt, 1960

In this is the dilemma. McCusker is asking me, one of those ‘bloggers,’ to rally behind a government we both know to have broken the law and to have concerted itself with the British government in order to destroy a man as symbolically important to the independence movement as Alex Salmond for the sake of ‘unity & solidarity’ – for fellowship. And when I am damned for not doing according to my conscience, will good socialists like Chris McCusker join with me for the unity and solidarity of Judas and all such betrayers? It’s not Salmond we are betraying. We are being asked to sell out on our principles; our belief that we, as members of an independence movement, do not treat with the enemy, and we do not discard truth and justice to shore up our power. Nothing good can ever come of this.

We, as members of an independence movement, do not treat with the enemy, and we do not discard truth and justice to shore up our power.

Cui bono? I will not compromise on this because, of course, someone stands to benefit from the crime. Someone always benefits. These compromises so many are right now so willing to make will benefit the very perpetrators of the crime – the same people who propose to lead us to independence and in so doing form the first government of an independent Scotland; a state founded on the dispensation of the highest ideas of truth and justice. Will these people suddenly rediscover their consciences ‘after May’ or ‘after independence?’ And, if not, what sort of independence will their duplicity and injustice make for the future of Scotland and the Scottish people? It will do nothing but hand the reins of our country – the rightful property of all Scots – from one set of gangsters to another. This is not the independence I want, and neither is it the independence envisioned by the Yes movement born in the crucible of the 2014 referendum.

Rejecting this is not rejecting that independence, the independence we all imagined together. If anything, it is a reaffirmation of the dream of independence we all dreamt together in ‘Freedom Square.’ In buying into this false belief that we are risking independence, once again we are surrendering to fear – and that is not who we are! FEAR? False Evidence Appearing as Real.

We demand of our government that it embody the values of the Scottish people and nation, that it is honest, and good, and just – that only when it embodies this, our country, will we be worthy to cross over the threshold of hope and realise in an independent state the nation and people we know ourselves to be. Everything short of this is not good enough – it is a fraud. And this need not be a condemnation of the Scottish National Party. Rather, it must be an invitation to every member of the party to take the reins and make the reforms necessary to put the show back on the road. And we have ‘plenty of time’ to do this, because every road to independence sullied by bad faith and injustice is a lie. It is only when we are on the road where we can be true to ourselves that independence will be possible. So, we have plenty of time. We have oceans of it.

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Cornel West on Pursuing Truth in Politics


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28 thoughts on “On Being Good

  1. Thank you for this analysis, which confirms my own thoughts. I support independence with every fibre of my being but not at any cost. I, like you, want indy so we can be a better country, that holds human rights, truth, justice and integrity at the forefront of everything we do. Without this moral compass iScotland will just replicate all we so despise in WM

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am with you that this can’t be brushed under the carpet if we want a non toxic future for Scotland
    However my concern is if we don’t get a majority indy vote across the line in May we won’t have the luxury of time to reform the SNP
    Instead we will witness our water and NHS being privatised …devolution will be discredited and bypassed by the internal market bill…
    For me there is the question of relativity
    Im a poor single mum living in poverty but all three of my kids are at uni thanks to the SNP
    I FEAR for mine and others like me futures strapped in a stinking Westminster system
    It could be argued that both Salmond and Sturgeon were played that this is a well constructed deep undercover sting operation
    They had a womaniser and a stickler for honesty to manipulate
    Since 2015 the Brits laid their trap using Evans and MacKinnon
    And the subsequent botched attempt to cover Nicolas tracks by forcing through a ridiculous criminal trial and avoid her exposure for ministerial misconduct started with Evans
    Pushing manipulating panicking the first minister
    If Salmon is correct that on April 2nd Sturgeon wanted to go for mediation
    Who changed her mind …I bet it was Evans
    And what about the leak to the daily record …wasn’t Evans pushing for that but stopped then the leak …they say it’s thd Scottish Government but surely the SNP has long been infiltrated by British agents
    It’s a shame if we lose our chance to escape London abuse because the SNP was taken down by the Brits
    No more hope over fear
    Now it’s turning into a long slow downward spiral into broken despair
    And you bloggers with your principals might be able to weather the coming descent into extreme poverty
    I know Salmond will be comfortable but the likes of me who was freezing reading Joanna Cheery’s tweet In January that after a tough week she was going to enjoy some “fine wines”
    Will have to choose not just between food and Heat
    But also no longer be able to heat my water
    I will take a dodgy SNP possibly manipulated into making ridiculous mistakes over a dodgy London anyway
    Most of you bloggers are men
    I’m a practical woman who spent the last 25 years rearing Scotland’s future
    Focusing on feeding and loving children
    Compromise is how we survive
    The compromise I see is for both Salmond and Sturgeon to stop fighting and unite for Scotland
    The real culprit here Is the British Empire

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well said Siobhan, that’s the most sense I’ve read since this whole thing blew up. This could be our last chance saloon. I can’t bear to think what we’re in for once the tories have free reign over us (for the next god knows how many years). As you say, not all of us have the means to mitigate what is coming should independence fail.

      Like

  3. I agree.

    France got rid of the Bourbons … and commenced a Reign of Terror
    Russia’s people wanted rid of the Tsar … and ended up with 30 years of Stalin’s tyranny
    Cambodia freed itself from French and American colonists … and replaced them with the Kymer Rouge horrors

    It’s the old argument of means justifying the end. In certain circumstances that can be fine: if your enemy is determined literally to kill you then you might only be able defend yourself by violent means. There are many examples of this too – Ireland comes to mind.

    The trouble is that the means can become the normal way of resolving difficulties or issues. That’s a problem.

    Similarly telling untruths is a slippery slope: one small white one, leads to a flurry of falsehoods then – before you know it – it’s onto the Big Lie. That’s when you start living as if its 1984.

    I think this is where the present leadership of the SNP is now at. Any questioning of their highly questionable views is not tolerated. Gerrymandering of internal voting mechanisms is “the right thing to do” as it is justified by the outcome. It is the same regarding their version of ‘equality’ and ‘positive discrimination’.

    The party membership, or the bulk of them, believe that we should all just ‘wheesht’ on matters of principle “for Indy’s sake”. Even to the point of simply ignoring the obvious illegality that would have seen an innocent man imprisoned for a very long time if not for ever. And not just any man. The most important person in the history of the Independence movement, for Christ sake.

    Somehow sanity needs to be restored. But it won’t be until the current problems are admitted. For many, the early stage of grief has still to be commenced.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Excellent article and while I don’t share your vision of the independent utopia, I fully agree that it is wrong to support the corrupt in the delusion that they will change their behaviour after the fact
    I am neither a member of SNP or the recently formed NSP (Nicola Sturgeon Party) and am typical of the unaligned whose vote is needed to secure independence but will never happen if I’m asked to dispense with logic in favour of blind faith

    Liked by 2 people

  5. They rose to power by clinging onto Salmond’s coat-tails. They owe him for the political careers they now enjoy. What does it say for their loyalty and integrity if they will treat him like this? And if they will treat him like this, can any private citizen feel safe in a country they govern? They picked on someone who was strong enough to fight back – many others would not be.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Agree. We should never make a filthy Faustian pact with the gangsters in the Scottish Government headed up by Sturgeon. If we did, we would never be able to shape the future of Scotland: there would be no codified constitution with an entrenched Bill of Rights (based on ECHR, the ICCPR and CEDAW); there would be no separation of powers because Sturgeon and Evans would never countenance any diminution/limitation on their power. There are, as you cogently argue, principles on which no compromise is possible, starting with fairness and justice.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Entirely agree. I wrote this on FB a few days ago
    ******
    “a wise man built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
    (from Matthew 7:24-25)

    Our ‘Better Nation’ needs to be founded on the rock of truth and justice, not the sand of corruption and lies
    The end does not justify the means, if those means are wrong. Because such a beginning would taint the outcome.

    The Union of 1707 was brought about by ‘Auld Corruption’. Let’s not repeat the mistake”
    ****
    To which I’d add: Independent Ireland’s birth pangs, and arguably the loss to the Irish nation of the awkward, difficult, dissenting, preaching northern tradition, led inevitably to poorer outcomes in both parts of that island for the best part of a century. How we begin MATTERS

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I agree with all of this.

    There is a third way; that the current government explain why the current shenanigans were justified and therefore are worthy of trust.

    However, I won’t hold my breath for that

    Like

  9. Excellent article. This sums up my feelings perfectly. The Wheest for Indy argument fails because we’re never told exactly how we can sort ‘IT’ out later.
    It’s clear people like Murrel should already be gone with no impact on the cause of Independence. How about the Lord Advocate and at least two senior civil servants. Who would really care were they to depart right now.
    These people are being propped up by NS and so it’s not in the gift of the ordinary voter to clear out the stables right now, never mind later.
    We were supposed to be better than Westminster not vote for more of the same.

    Like

  10. Much as I respect you and your writing I can’t agree with you on this. I’m fairly confident that when Scotland becomes an independent state that we the people will determine who will lead us and what road our government will follow. We have a socialist outlook which we will tolerate no shift from. Remember Iceland and the banking shambles? Well that’s how we will react to any divergence or shift of policy we don’t agree with.
    I’m not happy with current situation but i’m not letting WM win.

    Like

    1. I would make this observation.
      Yes, the Icelanders got rid of a corrupt government. Prior to that the Independence Party had won 25 consecutive elections. How we begin matters because it will set the tone for decades.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Sorry, I don’t share your optimism. We, the people, seem to have no more control over our Scottish Govt than we do our colonial masters. As an, only just clinging on, member of the SNP I ,along with others, have tried the “saving the party from within” method and we have found that we have no voice whatsoever, The hierarchy simply overrule our objections and put in place the mechanisms to follow their own agenda. There is always talk about how “we, the people” will not tolerate this or that – so what will we do? Protest? Aye, that works . Riot or revolt – there isn’t the appetite for that – can’t even get people to take part in peaceful civil disobedience. I’m afraid that the romantic notion of “we the people” is a dead duck. The only recourse is a vote every five years – with Hobson’s choice as the options.

      Like

  11. Why has all mention of Alex Salmond been removed from the SNP website? Writing about the referendum in 2014 with only reference to NS is immoral as well as childish. Why was Alex Salmond not invited back into the SNP after he was found to be not guilty by a jury. Why was Joanna Cherry, clearly one of the most capable and successful SNP ministers, sidelined within the SNP. Why has the SNP organisation been changed from 2018 into effectively a one person led party. Why are the SNP pushing GRA and the Hate Bill when so many people in Scotland do not want them. Why are SNP members ignored and can play no part in what the SNP focuses on. Why did the SNP let Scotland be dragged out of the EU. What have the SNP actually done since 2015 to make people want to support independence. Why haven’t the SNP been screaming from the rooftops about the Covid limitations imposed by being part of the UK. Given that the economy remains the main concern of soft NO voters, why haven’t the SNP comprehensively exposed the GERS reports as being falsely distorted.

    In summary, why have the SNP under NS not acted like a government in waiting? Because they have no intention of gaining independence. Mediocrities get positions of power within the current SNP, while those with competence but who are unwilling to bow down or pose a threat to the leader get sidelined. So an independent Scotland with a bunch of self serving lightweights? No thanks. I’ll wait until the SNP gets back to a pre-2015 level of focus on independence, capability and honesty and vote then for them.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Excellent blog, Jeggit. Forensic analysis. I come from the same direction as you, but with something else added: I do not want to enter an independent Scotland where, as a woman, all my rights and right to my safe spaces have been taken away from me. I will have the freedom not to be free. I will be in an independent Scotland, but still be colonized. This is a very difficult time for all of us, whatever our sex or gender or orientation, age, colour, creed, ethnicity, etc. We have big decisions to make, and not everyone will be happy.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. A week or two ago I wrote a comment on another blog (I tried to find it but can’t remember where) along the following lines.

    I am as committed to Scottish Independence as anyone I know (& more than many) but there are three prices I do not think are worth paying for that outcome:

    1) Violence
    2) Loss of human rights
    3) Political corruption

    If Scotland was currently being oppressed in the way in which many former British colonies were once oppressed (eg. Kenya, India, Ireland) then there would be a justification for military resistance but those conditions do not exist in Scotland today.

    Human rights are codified by the UN & European Courts & currently those are not (yet) under serious threat in Scotland. The reforms to the GRA & the proposed Hate Crime legislation are not good but are open to legal challenge & to being overturned by future governments so I’m willing to ‘watch this space’, for the time being.

    But the political & justice system corruption that is already in display in Scotland is frightening & does not bode well for the future. If that gets imbeded it could take decades to undo. Scotland needs to be rid of the current cabal who are running the government & COPFS/police more than it needs to be independent from the UK right now.

    And if you also consider how incompetent this bunch of plotters are the Independence cause really needs them gone. Can you imagine this lot negotiating a successful separation from rUK? We’d get fleeced by Westminster!

    Like

  14. Like you Jason, I am a republican. I have absolutely no time for the Royals or the class system they belong to.

    However I put that to one side , knowing that when Scotland is independent we will have a vote about becoming a republic. I appreciate that the SNP need to have a catch all policy until we are independent. I am against NATO membership , but again I put this to one side. I want to join the EURO , which again was never SNP policy , so I let it go.

    However , what I will not allow. Is for a former colleague , comrade or however you want to describe Alex Salmond. Almost spending the rest of his life in jail on false allegations, with the collusion of the government, civil service and the Crown. I have absolute loyalty to my fellow independence supporters.

    When I hear the likes of Pete Wishy Washy talking about unity, it turns my stomach. Unity means everyone , not the ones you choose to be loyal to. How they can use such a word when they treat Salmond, Cherry , Grouse, Stu Campbell as enemies.

    It seems that corruption is fine, as long as it’s SNP corruption. Well sorry , this isn’t going to work. The morals of our country are more important than sneaking over the line in May.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Steel – I never thought I would say this, but yes the election should be off until the Autumn. I would like a new leader to get bedded in and drain the swamp of every sycophantic Sturgeonite. Clean slate, and voting with pride , rather than holding our noses.

    Like

  16. A state, a system that has at its heart the Creed that anything goes and the end justifies the means is something that can never be accepted.

    Those that propose acceptance of such a doctrine are no different from those who accepted the extermination of Jews to make their country a better place. But maybe the Sturgeon loyalists are no different from their contemporary 1930s counterparts.

    The analogy is so similar as to be nearly identical.

    Well for me, and many many others who want a fairer, more just independent Scotland, we say no. The ends do not justify the means and we must do all in our power to remove Sturgeon and her regime. There can be no ifs, no buts, because they must be made gone.

    Germany learned that, but sadly too late.

    Like

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