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.
Yet, we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position where we cannot blame England or the British government for this awful predicament in which we find ourselves. At every single step of the Brexit drama the Scottish National Party and the Scottish government rejected opportunities that would have paved the way to a referendum and independence. Immediately after the EU referendum, the ‘Maggie Simpson map’ of the results across Britain demonstrated clearly the different paths Scotland and England were taking.
Anyone familiar with the history British imperialism and the independence struggles of other countries which won their freedom from Britain will be well acquainted with London’s Trojan horses, its gifts, and its bribes. Now this is not me saying Murray Foote is an enemy within. I don’t know – and that’s my problem here. I don’t know. For all I do know, Foote might be the Bobby Sands or the Mahatma Gandhi of Scottish independence, but, and until there is something to convince me otherwise, I simply do not trust him. We have no reason to trust him.
We see this authoritarian and fascistic impulse too in the behaviour of the party towards those in the party of a more radical or even simply an alternative disposition towards independence. It would not be inaccurate to describe a number of efforts against people who have aligned themselves to a ‘Plan B’ as a purge. Those who have refused to toe the utterly futile Section 30 route to independence have been attacked, left twisting in the wind, and de-selected. One MSP, who will remain anonymous, voiced concerns to me...
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.
Progressive politics is a package deal. It is a political set menu with cult-like or at least communitarian characteristics. It is a tribal political identity rather than a series of beliefs and policy ideas people can weigh up and decide on based on their individual merits. Defending the rights of racial and ethnic minorities is both progressive and objectively right. The same is true of cutting carbon emissions and seeking greater economic justice for the poorest people in society, but the same cannot necessarily be said of other complex legal and social issues.
The conditions that prevailed in 2011 are no more. The 2014 referendum and the ongoing constitutional war of attrition have fundamentally changed the dynamics of how we do politics, of how we think politics. Unionist support is continuing to rally behind the Conservatives, and this, along with the continued success of the SNP in the constituency vote, will now always work against the SNP. Yet, Stewart McDonald is right. The SNP strategy in 2011 has been the only one that has worked, and it has won an SNP majority. It can win that majority again – theoretically, at least.
Yet, the SNP campaign of 2012-14 was itself the product of change. On the eve of devolution, in the 1997 general election, Salmond’s SNP won a paltry six seats. It made no impact on the major population centres of the central belt, had no appeal to the socialist heart of Scotland, and failed to attract meaningful numbers from the country’s minority populations. At that election the SNP felt the full force of a New Labour landslide that swept across the whole of the United Kingdom and brought us the painful disappointment that was Tony Blair.