The referendum we were granted in 2014 was an anomaly. We would never have been given the opportunity to vote on independence if those in power in Westminster thought for a single moment that we would elect to leave. They were banking on our defeat, and they expected a defeat so humiliating, so utter and comprehensive it would, in a single blow, send our smouldering hope flying off into the abyss of history and ancient and half-remembered lore. But we took up that gauntlet and we bloodied their nose. Our defeat then was the pallid victory of the swindler...
This is the thing with derivative western political culture – something Britain’s Tories have taken to whole new depths; it gets progressively worse and less convincing with each new generation. Gone are the days of a marbled Gaius Octavius Thurinus as Caesar Augustus – vultus bonus, ut me addere – pointing the way ahead for Pax Romana. Now we don’t even have an effete William of Orange on his gee-gee. We have been reduced to this: Middling civil servants accidentally promoted – through the rigours of last man standing – to leadership, poised as though bracing to release excess gas.
After April 1998, with the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, and at the height of Tony Blair’s New Labour experiment, a window of opportunity opened for the old imperial flag. With “peace” in Ireland and a refreshing post-Conservative era flourishing over Blair’s New Britain, it was felt that the union jack too could be rebranded and sold at home and abroad as the hallmark of brand UK – a neoliberal whitewashed advertising strategy that has been developed through a number of more recent permutations including “Team GB” and “UK OK.”
David Leask’s job isn’t to spot lies. He may want to convince himself that this is what he does for a living, but he’s deluding himself. Mr Leask can’t even spot the lies in his own paper. He hasn’t commented on the astronomical number of retractions The Herald has had to publish in relation to its coverage of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon, and the Scottish government (see the pattern?). Retractions on page 12 a week later, as The Herald knows, don’t correct the damage done by a lie published in bold on the front page – and that’s how it works.
People voted for the SNP in 2017 knowing full well that it promised another crack at the whip. Sure, we lost some seats. But we remained the majority. We lost voters, but we know they never switched sides. Maybe we are losing voters because of the SNP’s apparent reluctance to move. We have asked for the consent of the Scottish parliament to put another referendum to the people and that consent has been given. It has been put on ice, and now we are hearing that we have to wait until the time is right.
This has to cause us some concern if we intend to pursue another independence referendum. The British establishment – Project Fear 2 – will cheat and we now know the weapons it has at its disposal. We have to be prepared for these kinds of dirty tricks and we had better be prepared to use some of our own. Whatever shape the next referendum takes, we know it is not going to be a fair or a clean fight. The gloves will be off from the very start, and we had best start disabusing ourselves of any notions of fair play before it begins.
Lying – or pure and unadulterated political “bullshit” as Harry Frankfurt would call it – has become the norm in how the right wing Brexiteer British government does business. It has realised that just enough of the population is gullible enough to swallow whatever it is told and that the rest are too docile and controlled to do anything real about it. This puts us all in an incredibly dangerous position, one that cannot be overstated.
Tiocfaidh ár lá may well have been the “battle cry of the blanketmen,” but it is also a proclamation of continuity. McDonald’s Sinn Féin is not a new Sinn Féin. It is the same party with the same vision and, while it continues to attract new members, it is largely supported by the same people who supported the party right through the Troubles to the present day. If Mary Lou McDonald wants to be accepted as the new face of Sinn Féin then she has to carry this old guard along with her, and that means reminding them too of the fights of the past.