I'm going to return briefly to a point I made in my previous post, namely that however outrageous and indefensible Alister Jack's use of the Section 35 veto was, it nevertheless carries with it a potential side-benefit for the pro-independence movement. Because the UK government has used its imperial powers to effectively repatriate (or should that be 'depatriate'?) the GRR issue to Westminster, and because Keir Starmer is giving clear indications that he will not reverse that process, it's now possible for both the SNP and Alba leaderships to draw a line under what has been an appallingly toxic debate, without compromising on principle in any way. The SNP leadership has fulfilled its obligations to the Greens and to its other zealot lobbyist allies - it was foolish to ever enter into such obligations, but nevertheless nobody can dispute that Nicola Sturgeon has done her absolute utmost to introduce a full-fat version of self-ID and was only thwarted by forces totally outwith her control. There's therefore no longer any conceivable harm in reunifying the SNP by holding out an olive branch to the gender critical wing of the party. It's highly unlikely that there'll be any further Scotland-specific decisions on self-ID for the likes of Ash Regan to rebel on, at least not this side of independence, so why even regard her as a rebel? (At most, there might eventually be a vote on a Legislative Consent Motion to 'allow' a Starmer government to pass UK-wide self-ID legislation, but that would just be a symbolic exercise, because the Sewel Convention is completely dead and the UK Government will just ignore any withholding of consent.) Meanwhile Alba rightly campaigned against the GRR Bill up until the moment it was taken out of Holyrood's hands - but now that moment has passed, there's no need to keep the campaign going, or at least not at anything like the same level of intensity. There's also no value in doing so even from the point of view of partisan self-interest, because in the long run Alba will find that the GRR can no longer be used as a wedge issue against the SNP when it's Starmer that will be making the decisions and facing any political consequences.
However, the opportunity to draw a line under the toxicity of the GRR issue is only that - an opportunity. The SNP and Alba can, if they wish, go in the opposite direction and pointlessly keep this destructive culture war going indefinitely. But if they do, the only loser will be the cause of independence. I'm hearing whispers that Alba doorstep campaigners are finding there's been a sea-change in public attitudes towards the gender identity issue - whereas previously voters were looking at them as if they were aliens when they raised the subject, there's now genuine and widespread anger out there. That's not at all surprising given the heavy media coverage of recent decisions relating to "trans prisoners" - nobody has to be a diehard feminist to care about a threat to vulnerable women from sexual predators (which has been a social concern since time immemorial). So I can totally understand the excitement of my fellow Alba members now that they feel they're finally gaining traction on a campaigning issue they've been running with for two years - but I really would urge some caution, because this is actually the moment of danger. If Alba pile in and assist anti-independence media outlets such as the Daily Express, Wings Over Scotland and the Daily Mail in building public anger against Nicola Sturgeon on the prisoner issue to a fever-pitch, it probably will damage the SNP, but it's far more likely to be unionist parties (especially the Tories) that reap the main benefit, rather than Alba itself. To my mind, Alba is, or should be, a special sort of party, because its aim is not power for itself, but instead to bring about independence as swiftly as possible. It makes no sense for any part of the strategy of such a party to be to replace a pro-independence government with a unionist government. (I know the Wings ultras will argue there's "creativity in destruction" and that the architecture of Yes politics as we know it must be destroyed so that we can start again from scratch - in other words the destruction of the Yes campaign is somehow a pro-independence act. That whole worldview is idiocy on stilts, its initiator is a dishonest chancer and a snake oil salesman, and frankly I have no intention of showing any further patience towards it.)
My advice to Alba, for what it's worth, would instead be to accentuate the positive by warmly welcoming the correct decisions of the SNP government to take steps, however belatedly, to ensure that self-identified trans prisoners are not placed in women's prisons - and by all means Alba should take part of the credit for coaxing and pressurising the SNP into a better place. But the emphasis should be on a problem solved by pro-independence politicians, rather than on needlessly painting the SNP leadership on an ongoing basis as friends of sexual predators - something which would only benefit the Tories and unionism. I don't particularly expect my advice to be heeded - but I do think people may look back in a few years and wish they'd heeded it. I think we've heard quite enough about the "Scottish Nonce Party" and about a vote for the SNP being a vote for Jimmy Savile - although doubtless Alister Jack and Douglas Ross would be only too delighted to hear lots more about it.
Incidentally, I completely accept that the SNP leadership's language in the wake of their U-turns is insufferably hypocritical. Over the last few days, they've explicitly done three things that they previously defined as 'bigoted' and 'transphobic' when done by other people - ie. they've acknowledged that you can't automatically always believe individuals when they tell you what gender they are, they've acknowledged that self-identified trans women may not in absolutely every case be women, and they've acknowledged that in some cases accepting an individual's self-identification as female may pose a danger to women. And yet they've carried on throwing around the charges of bigotry and transphobia without interruption. They've simply narrowed the goalposts of what constitutes transphobia to exclude themselves from it and are hoping no-one will notice that Orwellian manoeuvre. It's breathtakingly cynical, but let's face it, this is what governments usually do when they back down on something. They try to find a form of words that makes it sound as if nothing has really changed at all. (Jeremy Hunt's reversal of decisions made by Truss and Kwarteng was a rare exception, probably because the U-turn was so total that it would have been impossible to cover up.) What matters most in this case are the deeds, not the stupidity of the words.
I'd also like to make clear that although the ends of thwarting self-ID will never justify the means of a Westminster veto, I nevertheless haven't remotely changed my mind on how desirable the ends are. Quite apart from the potential impact of self-ID on women's rights and safety, there's also the factor of the sinister McCarthyite atmosphere that critics of self-ID (including myself) have had to endure over the last couple of years. It's almost frightening to think how much worse things would have got on that score if those trying to crack down on free speech had found the law on their side.
Inflicting gender on Scots, the nation that gave us much of the enlightenment, is beginning to look like the strategic error that will end this madness.— Dennis Noel Kavanagh (@Jebadoo2) January 30, 2023
That's gibberish. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the issue (and I strongly oppose self-ID), the fact is that the GRR Bill was passed by Scotland's elected repesentatives, and vetoed by an unelected UK Govt official.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) January 30, 2023
The only thing "inflicted" was your beloved London veto.
The Berlin Wall of gender, a vile structure dividing us from reality, it’s now falling and Sturgeon has shown you can’t be Trudeau in the home of the enlightenment - the Scottish are unravelling and defeating gender— Dennis Noel Kavanagh (@Jebadoo2) January 30, 2023
My love and respect from South of the border you amazing jocks
The way "the Jocks" are defeating it, according to your logic, is by *decisively voting against* the London Tory government which vetoed it. This really is Olympic-level drivel.— James Kelly (@JamesKelly) January 30, 2023
Do you show "love and respect" to the French by calling them Fantastic Frogs, by the way?
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I pointed out yesterday that Stuart Campbell had just done an ELEVENTH Wings post in a row about the trans issue. Today he's done a TWELFTH and a THIRTEENTH in a row.ReplyDelete
WELL WHO COULD HAVE POSSIBLY HAVE PREDICTED THAT, I AM SIMPLY ASTONISHED
I'm totally confident there won't be a fourteenth tomorrow, though. That would be just silly.
Campbell is unhinged, lets not beat about the bush. Even people who share his trans views know that this level of obsession is not normal or healthy. He needs a shrink.Delete
It's a valiant attempt to argue rationally and logically about what ought to happen. The SNP could basically say to Alba "truce: let's pick this up as something, one of the many things, for the Scottish people to decide upon in the first post-indy elections".ReplyDelete
But I think we all know it won't happen. That genie's not going back in the box. Intransigence is now built in on all sides.
I still don't think I really understand why the SNP had to put themselves in thrall of the Greens in the first place - what was the formalisation of their informal collaboration actually for? When has it been that important to the Scottish Government to demonstrate there's a clear actual majority in Holyrood rather than a de facto effective one? I'm still a bit baffled by that whole thing.
The combination of two recognised democratically elected independence supporting parties in Scotland is why they did it, why wouldn't they not ? If there were anymore I'm sure they'd take that alsoDelete
Are you suggesting they would have welcomed Alba into the pro-indy coalition government if Alba MSPs had been elected? How touchingly naive of you.Delete
"The combination of two recognised democratically elected independence supporting parties in Scotland is why they did it, why wouldn't they not ? If there were anymore I'm sure they'd take that also"Delete
Not really buying it, least of all because the SNP and Greens didn't do it after the 2016 election when the maths wasn't that much different.
The Greens get to be in government and the ministerial positions that confers. What did the SNP really get? I suppose it's harder for the Greens to try hold the SNP hostage in the budget situations, but in reality they were already playing the junior partner in that role before it was formalised anyway.
All Sturgeon really did was make the SNP look weaker than it actually was in reality because it suggested it needed a minor party to get across a threshold we all know is not *really* supposed to be possible under D'Hondt anyway. And for what? It's not like they've done a lot of stuff that really needed that absolute nailed on majority.
The only thing I can think of is the SNP already cottoned onto the constituency vs. list vote efficiency thing and decided the Greens, the malleable junior semi-wannabe SNP anyway - are to be the designated partner for that rather than, say, Alba.
They go with greens cos they're fake yes and won't expose them on no indy/blocking Holyrood electoral pleb/yes alliance.Delete
That and hatred of Salmond.
LOL. There's a BTL comment on Wings from a guy who has left Alba because they were insufficiently supportive of the Alister Jack veto. He's instead joined a party called "Independence for Scotland", which apparently is full-bloodedly in favour of Westminster Tory vetoes. You couldn't make this stuff up.ReplyDelete
That's hilarious. Independence For Scotland are about as aptly named as Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party.Delete
It all makes sense in the wacky world of Stu Campbell's zombie followers, though. As far as they're concerned, "pro-independence parties" demonstrate their virility by competing with each other on who can be the most hostile to Scottish autonomy.Delete
One of your best articles in a long time. Independence can't afford to be tied to other issies of the day.ReplyDelete
I have tried to draw attention to this before and was derided as a blood and soil nationalist, whereas as a biological Englishman I am just being pragmatic. Time is not on our side. The recent census (whenever the full results are know) will reveal for the first time in history less than 80% of people in Scotland will not have been born in Scotland. While many of our New Scots from England wholeheartedly embrace Scottish national aspirations, the vast majority, quite understandably, do not. This process is accelerating and has severely undermined the independence movement in Wales. We can't start from scratch. It may well be now or never.ReplyDelete
Yes, you were derided for blood and soil nationalism when you said that before, and yes, you'll probably be derided for the same reason now that you've said it again. I'm puzzled as to why you think anything has changed. If you somehow misinterpreted this blogpost as meaning "we have to keep the English immigrants out", I'm more than happy to set you straight.Delete
That wouldn't be 'the same Independence for Scotland' formerly of this parish ? I find it rather odd that any sensible Scottish person should take the slightest notice of the opinions of a right-wing Tory voter from Somerset.ReplyDelete
From Terry Callachan Dundee, in my opinion we will never have agreement across the Scottish independence parties because each party always ties its other policies to the mast of Scottish independence , I think that doing this then alienates people who were about to support them for Scottish independence , why do they do it ? I believe they do it because they are not just campaigning for Scottish independence they are simultaneously campaigning for their position AFTER Scottish independence , how stupid , selfish , shortsighted.ReplyDelete
What we need s for every Scottish independence party every Scottish independence group to stick solely to a campaign on Scottish independence .
Now before you say yes but they will be questioned on currency , joining the eu , NATO , etc etc etc please just accept that none of those questions will be determined in a Scottish independence referendum so they are pointless and asked for the sole purpose of trying to destabilise the Scottish independence movement by setting the large cohesive Scottish independence support against each other , those who do this continually split the independence movement into smaller and smaller and more numerous groups that focus on policies other than Scottish independence.
Wake up everyone , every time someone does this just reply to them by saying that after Scottish independence the people of Scotland will determine what currency they want to use and if they want to rejoin the eu and if they want Scotland to join NATO etc etc tell them we don’t need to have these questions decided right now tell them we will decide them once we are rid of the propaganda influencing of Westminster tell them Scotland will decide it’s wan important questions of the future and won’t experience the unfair ignorance that took Scotland out of the eu simply because a majority in England wanted it.
Focus attention on one issue Scottish independence wave away questions about what we will decide to do after independence tell them its not necessary to decide these things until we are independent , if they question this just say that being able to decide these questions in Scotland rather than in Westminster is the prize that independence will bring.