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.
Scotland is Britain’s grand strategy, and let’s make no bones about that. Our oil – still the world’s most important strategic and geopolitical resource – is the breadbasket of their little empire. In a world such as this, with Britain playing the game with phantom limb syndrome with regard to its lost global empire, Scotland’s oil is its golden ticket – and no blundering buffoon of a Prime Minister is going to be allowed jeopardise that again. Chip away at Britain all you please, what lies behind that velvet glove of soft moronic weakness is an iron fist.
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.
Division is an essential component of every healthy democracy, and efforts to end division and contention in political discussion invariably produce the same two cancers in the body politic. In the leadership it fosters an authoritarian attitude which tends towards autocracy and even totalitarianism, and in the mass movement it creates a sheepish dogmatism by which the individual abdicates his or her responsibility to think and reason for his or herself and fuels the impulse to reject every contradiction as heresy. Every so often we get glimpses of these things...
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.
Our greatest weakness, it seems, is exposed in the solipsistic nature of class in Scotland and in the independence movement. The professional caste of the independence movement imagines itself as having more in common with the bourgeois sensibilities of the unionist establishment currently occupying the nation’s civil society – its business and banking institutions, professions, and universities – than it does with the organic, working class or grassroots mass movement supporting it...
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.
Queensferry Crossing, or Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘vanity project’ as the unionists like to style this essential infrastructural development, was closed briefly during dangerous and potentially life-threatening weather. Bearing in mind that bridges all over England were shut for the same reason at the time, to use its closure as a political weapon is right up there were resisting the expense of fire-retardant cladding on high-rise flats. This was not a good look for the Conservatives. That failing to close a bridge in dangerous weather is just inviting a tragedy, is a statement of the obvious.