There are, of course, people telling bloggers like me to calm down, that the polls are in our favour – which they are, but the polls don’t matter when we don’t have a party in government in Scotland with the minerals to act. All we are getting from the SNP-led Scottish government in Edinburgh are deeply problematic and divisive policy suggestions and dogmatic calls for loyalty and blind obedience – to the party and not the cause for independence.
Our heretofore trust in the idiom ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’ has done us no service. Charismatic leadership is rare in the real world, and my regular readers will by now be aware of my negative opinion of messianic thinking in the movement. We have to a large extent hitched our wagon to the SNP and so have been frustrated at the SNP’s lack of movement, its endless carrot dangling, and its constant lip service to the independence cause. But this frustration is our own fault. The SNP is not the political wing of the movement.
Tonight, however, we have managed to lift the veil. Most of the suspicions I have had about the sickness within AUOB and most of the sources I have listened to have proven to be correct. There has been a profoundly diseased culture growing at the head of this organisation. Earlier tonight Neil MacKay, the current director of the AUOB, and Carol McNamara, chief administrator, came onto Scotland at 7 on Broadcasting Scotland with me to answer some fairly serious questions myself and others have had. Their candour was commendable. What they had to share was quite obviously difficult.
It is a source of immense frustration to me that the grassroots of the independence movement have been completely left to their own devices since 2014, rather than being kept under some form of structured leadership or guidance by the pro-independence political parties. Naturally there are those who would not like this. There are those who see party-political involvement as a threat to movement autonomy, sure. Others imagine it would leave the SNP open to attack for every infraction committed by some over-enthusiastic bampot, sure.
Openness and transparency do not undermine unity. They strengthen it. Lovers, brothers, sisters, and friends can tell one another uncomfortable truths. They can exchange cross words. They can even – and often do – have open pitched battled. But real and authentic relationships are not destroyed by such openness. They are strengthened. Silence, avoidance of the hard truths, disequilibria of power, and abuse foster environments which are highly toxic and inimical to true unity.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this was a lie, that it was deliberate and calculated, and that it was the product of a group discussion. Yet, we could have easily gotten past this. In the piece I wrote I acknowledged the success of the marches and congratulated AUOB for what it has achieved. All that I asked was that the guys don’t lie to us again. They are not our leaders. Manny, Gary, and Neil are events coördinators. We must always be given all the facts and given the freedom to make up our own minds – all the time and without exception. We are an independence movement!
Lies are corrosive to political movements. Sure, they wanted to ensure we had a massive turnout – and we understand that – but that AUOB lied about what the police had said – which may even actually be a criminal offence – means our trust in what they say in future is damaged. It may come as news to some, but independence movements are sometimes the target of police violence. Of course, we want to keep things democratic and peaceful in Scotland, but in the event things ever go a little Barcelona we really need to know that those organising and leading marches...
Independence and the People’s Vote campaign, while both aligned against the present London government, are also in profound political opposition. Independentistas looking for a People’s Vote in order to mitigate a Brexit deal made by the British government are lending support to the union by ignoring the fact that Scotland has already rejected Brexit. The people of Scotland went to the polls on the day of the EU referendum and voted to remain in the European Union.