Friday, February 3, 2023

Then What?

I can't recall which Holyrood election it was - I think by a process of elimination it must have been either 2003 or 2007 - but there was once a Labour Party Election Broadcast that tried to terrify voters about the consequences of the SNP getting into power, and featured doom-laden music and a narrator who a newspaper journalist described as being "on day-release from a crypt".  At the end, a map of the UK appeared, and Scotland was depicted physically breaking away and drifting off into the North Atlantic.  A caption posed the question: "Then What?", before Crypt Guy wrapped things up with the exhortation: "DON'T LET THE NATIONALISTS PUT SCOTLAND'S FUTURE AT RISK!"  For good measure, there were also "Then What?" billboard ads, and across the bottom of one of them a wag scrawled the reply: "Self-Respect?"

As risible as the Labour campaign was, sometimes "Then What?" is a perfectly reasonable question when a person or group is taking action in the heat of anger with a short-term objective in mind and no thought at all about what comes afterwards.  A commenter on this blog has been keeping us updated in recent days with the running tally of the number of consecutive posts Stuart Campbell has written on Wings Over Scotland about the trans issue.  There have been even more posts since the last update, and by my reckoning the number now stands - astoundingly - at eighteen.  There's no secret about the objective of this monomaniacal Rant-Fest, which seems destined for a place in the Guinness Book of Records - the Wings page on Facebook defines the website's current aim in crystal-clear fashion as: "Nicola Sturgeon must go".  (Younger readers may struggle to believe me if I say the former aim of Wings, a very, very long time ago, was to bring about an independent Scotland.)  Thus Campbell is quite intentionally joining forces with the unionist media and unionist parties to relentlessly pummel and demonise Ms Sturgeon with jibes about the trans issue in the hope of 'finishing her off'.  This is far from being the first time that he has vastly overestimated both the First Minister's vulnerability and his own capacity to play a role in "the kill", and my guess is she'll still be around at the Westminster election in 2024, which may or may not be the plebiscite election.

But let's suppose I'm wrong about that, and Ms Sturgeon is more vulnerable than I believe.  There are of course two ways in which she could "go".  She could simply depart as SNP leader, in which event Campbell had better hope Kate Forbes replaces her, because I can't think of any other plausible leadership candidate who might even conceivably change the party's direction on the trans issue.  In fairness, Ms Forbes could very well be the successor, but if Campbell is banking on that he's rather recklessly putting all his eggs in one basket.  She's only 32 at present, and it wouldn't totally surprise me if she does what Jo Swinson did in 2017 and sits out the leadership contest because she doesn't feel quite ready yet.  Campbell is going to have put in a lot of effort for absolutely no reward if he somehow helps brings down Ms Sturgeon and wakes up the next day to First Minister Angus Robertson.

The other way Ms Sturgeon could go is if she remains as SNP leader, but the demonisation from the Express, Wings, the Mail et al pays off in the court of public opinion and the SNP end up being removed from government, taking her with them.  That would inevitably mean the replacement of the SNP with a unionist government, because with the best will in the world, Alba is a very, very long way away from being popular enough to offer any prospect of a pro-indy alternative government.  A unionist government at Holyrood would kill independence stone dead for a large number of years.  If you think that would bother Campbell in any way, you haven't been paying attention, because he recently said he is now "the least Yes he has ever been" and that his "conscience" would prevent him from campaigning for independence - and presumably from voting for it too.  So the death of the independence cause would be no loss to him whatsoever - but it certainly would be a loss to many of his followers who still believe in independence and who he has practically hypnotised into thinking that to-the-death warfare against a pro-independence government is somehow a way (and even the only way!) of bringing about independence.

A couple of days ago, I was informed on Twitter by an ostensible independence supporter that the Tories are using the trans issue to "successfully destroy the SNP".  That of course is a ludicrous notion - although there hasn't been a full-scale Scottish poll since the latest trans controversy broke, my guess is the next poll (I gather there's a Survation one in the field) may show the SNP taking a small hit but remaining firmly in the lead, with the Tories still in a distant third.  Straws in the wind from the most recent GB-wide polls suggest the SNP's vote is holding up extremely well in the 4-5% range.  But what struck me about the person who made the claim was not so much that she was hopelessly wrong about it, but that she was so excited about the thought that she was right - that a Tory surge, sweeping the SNP out of office, would somehow be a positive development.

Yesterday I was on the receiving end of yet another pile-on from Campbell fans, who as per usual were trying to intimidate me into silence about their Great Leader and wanted to dictate to me what subjects I am and am not allowed to cover on this blog.  (Don't worry, it wasn't a spontaneous incident - they were whipped up into a frenzy by a video Campbell posted about me the previous night.  No-one need ever accuse his fans of independent thought or action.)  Again, what struck me most about this is the sheer weirdness of how they're defining the problem.  They're looking, square in the face, at a prominent figure who is making a crazed effort on a daily basis to bring the whole Yes house crashing down.  They regard that as both normal and desirable.  What they regard as abnormal, and what they believe must be stamped out by any means available, is any critique or warning about a campaign of destruction that offers no prospectus for an independence movement that will be left scrabbling around in the rubble.

Let me put this thought to you for the second time in a few days.  Although the Tories' use of the Section 35 veto was outrageous and should be unreservedly condemned, it nevertheless carries the side-benefit of giving us a golden opportunity to move on from the toxic trans debate in Scotland.  Nicola Sturgeon's government is now utterly powerless to introduce self-ID.  Progress has also been made on women's safety due to the recent U-turns on housing men who tactically self-ID as female in women's prisons.  The gender critical side of the argument has essentially won for the time being, and for that reason there is simply no need to continue the battle to such an extent that the pro-independence government is brought down or substantially weakened.  Without a pro-independence government, there will be no independence.  Without a strong pro-independence government in good public standing, a plebiscite election will be unwinnable.  These ought to be statements of the bleedin' obvious but apparently we've reached the stage where they now need pointing out.  In a small way, I was part of the campaign against self-ID, but as far as the effect on the Scottish Government was concerned, my aim was always to save them from themselves (and to save the Yes movement from itself) by preventing them from doing something that I knew was completely out of line with public opinion.  The idea of achieving the main objective but then still trying to whip up public anger to destroy the government and the architecture of the Yes campaign as we know it is just totally alien to me - probably because it makes absolutely zero sense from a pro-independence point of view.

So good luck trying to intimidate, mock or pathologise me into silence while all of this is going on.  We have arrived at a moment of considerable danger, and some people simply need to be forced to confront what they are doing and/or supporting, and the immense damage it is causing.  My question is simple: if you destroy this pro-independence government, where are you going to find another one?

36 comments:

  1. So you want Sturgeon to stay as SNP leader? For how long?

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    1. Where are you getting that from? Copy and paste the relevant section so I can try to understand your question.

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  2. Hopefully it goes without saying that outright abusive comments will not be published. Doubtless the one I've just left in the moderation queue will be the first of many today.

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  3. When I returned live in Scotland in 2012 I'd been away for forty five years. Social attitudes had changed for the better, the union looked lame and bust, and independence was on the march. I joined the YES movement straight away and the SNP soon after.
    I did two shifts totalling 43 months as a Branch Convenor and worked hard in the 2014 campaign and a whole string of elections after it.
    Now I'm non party, hovering around Alba, and still in my local YES group.
    I feel far more betrayed by the Sturgeon leadership of the SNP than I ever did by the bland careerists of the Labour Party who I voted for for decades in England.
    Why ?
    Not because the 'Sturgeon suits' are any worse as people - they are pretty similar. It's because for years now we've been within striking distance of independence and, like a multitude of others, I actually felt part of the gently social democratic project that indy appeared to be. I feel betrayed by the missed opportunities, the lack of momentum from the top and the wrong priorities of middle class gender radicalism.
    The betrayal emotion is visceral. It is derailing some into irrational hatred of Sturgeon and other comfortable salary takers.
    The point is to remain rational and do what we can to move forward. Helping to destroy the SNP government as part of a hysterical 'Gotterdamerung' will get us nowhere positive.
    You're right James. We have to hang on to what is positive and work at making progress.
    I'll be very pleased when Sturgeon goes - but only if it is part of a positive renewal.

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  4. That all sounds fine, but as you rightly point out, "then what?" Do we sweep the whole thing under the carpet and carry on voting for the SNP under Nicola? I'm sorry but if only a fraction of what Wings has been posting lately is true, I can't in all conscience vote for either the SNP or the Greens until they somehow revert back to how they were a decade ago.

    I hate to say it, but I think what's going to happen is the shitstorm will continue to filter down to the general public over the next months and years losing them enough votes to allow the Unionists into power, and as I've said before, the blame for all of this lies squarely at the door of Nicola Sturgeon, not Stuart Campbell. He has, if anything, only played a minor role.

    Seems to me we are stuck between the Devil and the deep blue sea.

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    1. "if only a fraction of what Wings has been posting lately is true"

      You may have hit upon the flaw in your own logic there. Based on his track record, there are only really two options:

      a) Only a fraction of what he's been posting lately is true.

      b) None of what he's been posting lately is true.

      Take your pick.

      "He has, if anything, only played a minor role."

      We can argue the toss over whether his role in service of the unionist cause has been minor or major. But after the bizarre spectacle of his ongoing Transphobiathon, it is beyond any real dispute that it's been in service of the unionist cause.

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    2. Yes, not for nothing was the fake "Reverend" a recipient of the rare "FFS" verdict from The Ferret's fact-checkers.

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    3. If you have decided that you're not going to vote for the SNP or the Greens then you can have no complaint if the Unionists get "into power". I had issues with Salmond umpteen times in years gone by, not least when he got the SNP MPs to vote with the tories on the 'Committee of the Regions' (EU) issue back in the early 1990s but it never stopped me voting for the only party that can and will deliver an independent Scotland. As for Stu Campbell, my opinion is that he has been wired to the moon since his joust in the courts with Kezia Dugdale did not go as he had wished.

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    4. The puir wee Rev..everybody say "awww" !

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    5. JESUS / STU COMPARISON

      Jesus died for our sins
      Stu voted Tory for our sins

      Jesus was flogged and forced to wear a crown of thorns
      Stu was humiliated in court by a reality show non-entity

      On the whole I feel Stu is the more impressive religious leader. He's led the way through sacrifice. Probably the closest modern equivalent would be Mandela.

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  5. It's a failure of the SNP this issue has clouded the narrative of the press, the public, the party and the grassroots at the precise time the independence case needed to be front and centre. That is an unforgivable folly deserving criticism wherever you are in the debate. I'm hopeful it can be turned around but it needs some clear heads.

    I have a feeling that this "trans" debate transcends Scotland but we have fertile ground for its excesses. In a similar way to Trump america, we have a grassroots movement unhappy with the status quo and increasingly distrustful of power. We are seeing increasing rhetoric from Wings and followers which is similar to insane Qanon around "cabals" and "grooming" in the education sector and political "elites". I don't know what this actually means but I'm sensing a clear shift. Sturgeon is no longer just a poor leader but the devil incarnate. It's almost a bit like how extreme elements saw Hilary Clinton in America. We're seeing insinuations being made now about politicians. There's something going on here and I don't like it.

    In a positive sense, I believe there is a wider Scottish public which could be won over. But the party and grassroots need to get back in the saddle and bring everyone together once again.

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    1. With regard to your point that "a failure of the SNP clouded the narrative of the press", can you please inform me when "the narrative of the press" has never been clouded by anything that the SNP has done since it became the governing party at Holyrood? I have maintained for tears that if the SNP was to find a cure for cancer, the vanber headlines of the Daily Mail and Express would be, "Sturgeon attacks livelihoods of undertakers"!

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    2. Yes absolutely - difference is we had unity. Now we don't and we're faning the flames ourselves.

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    3. Okay sans "press" it makes sense. I still don't agree. Press for years knew SNP's purpose. Now we're fighting a culuture war. Clouded.

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    4. We are seeing increasing rhetoric from Wings and followers which is similar to insane Qanon around "cabals" and "grooming" in the education sector and political "elites". I don't know what this actually means but I'm sensing a clear shift. Sturgeon is no longer just a poor leader but the devil incarnate. It's almost a bit like how extreme elements saw Hilary Clinton in America.

      You're spot on about the similarities with "pizzagate". It's not uncommon to see claims that the motivation behind the GRR bill is that the MSPs who voted for it personally want to go into toilets and assault women. If people really think the world works like this you wonder how they're able to function on a day-to-day basis.

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  6. Not just Kate Forbes who remember abstained from voting - she could have voted as did a Tory MSP on maternity leave. Ash Regan is 48 and on manoeuvres. Ash has raised her profile since resigning to vote against GRRB. Whether it's enough to be a contender... But I suspect the membership will be impressed and they are who counts.

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  7. Perhaps Sturgeon really wants independence for Scotland, who knows. Until someone else delivers it I believe she is quite content with the constitutional status quo and her place as FM within it.

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  8. If I was going to impart one truth to the congregation tonight, it would be this: Campbell does not believe that Nicola Sturgeon's removal is a prerequisite for independence. He knows that's bollocks, although he'd never admit to it. No, what this is about is his own discomfort at being associated with a movement which has a woman he hates at its head. His hatred for Sturgeon is partly to do with the trans thing, but it's also partly petty grievance (she didn't support him in the Dugdale case). So he's arrogrant enough to want the SNP to turn itself upside down just to resolve his personal discomfort. Ironically given the language associated with the trans debate, it's all about his own internal 'feelings' rather than the rational interests of the movement.

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  9. The blame for my sense of betrayal lies squarely at the feet of Campbell. His use of the trans issue to try and destroy the Yes movement, and consequently independence, has become obvious and unforgivable. The anti-trans campaign (for that is what it is with the GRR bill just one front) is absolutely riddled with "deliberate misinformation" (lies) and "proud ignorance" (bigotry). Campbell may, or may not, be a minnow in the "great war" against a tiny minority, but his hypnotic influence on his only too willing subjects threatens the whole independence cause. His more than willing alignment with unionists to try and destroy the pro-indy govt should have given them pause for thought .... but no ....they unthinkingly follow his machiavellian lead and spread his destructive message. For that, I will never forgive the "Rev" I once held in high regard.

    PS Is there not some way of being able to post here with your own "name" rather than as "anonymous"? I don't have a URL as far as I know.

    Me Bungo Pony

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    1. You don't need a URL, you can just select the Name/URL option and leave the URL blank.

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    2. Ahh! Excellent. Thank you 👍.

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  10. Terry Callachan Dundee, divide a population ,that has always been a tactic of Westminster that they have used in countries around the world the greatest example of which is Northern Ireland where they still stoke the fire of division to this day.
    In Scotland division is encouraged every day mainly on the west coast through football but as we know the two teams through which the division is sewn have supporters ( I prefer to call them contributors ) all over Scotland, the newspapers and the radio in particular fully encourage and promote the division with comments bordering on hate .
    GRR has been used by Westminster to cause more division in Scotland with the help of their BBC , radio and newspapers , i must admit I am a fan of Nicola Sturgeon but was wholly taken aback when she decided , right in the middle of a push for another Scottish independence referendum , to introduce what we knew would be controversial GRR policies , Scotland has been left with an imprint of religious strife from the past and I firmly believe many of the people who are against GRR have been , how should I say it , trained ? brainwashed ? persuaded ? by so called religious education in their early years at school or BB or church or by parents / family it’s not so long ago that it was against the law to be gay in U.K. people were imprisoned for it or killed themselves before they could be sent to prison , the church considered it an evil sin there was talk of brain operations and chemical treatments to “cure” people .The church has a lot to answer for , their training is still affecting people to this day .Nicola Sturgeon must surely have known this was going to happen so why did she press ahead ? I think a meeting with the greens led to a pact where both SNP and greens would wholeheartedly support a list of policies that included Scottish independence and GRR.
    Nothing wrong with that really but it has predictably caused trouble , it would all have been so different if Scottish government controlled its own tv.

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  11. James, what's your solution to the problem that we don't have a pro-independence government at the moment? It's not as if NS resigning will make any difference there'll be another prevaricator like her along in a minute,

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    1. Which is one of the points I made in the blogpost - there's no point in devoting one's life to deposing Nicola Sturgeon, because even if you can do that without destroying the pro-independence government as collateral damage, the likelihood is she'll be replaced by someone with very similar views and a very similar approach. I joined Alba in the hope that pressure on the SNP from an external source could coax the SNP into less caution on indy. That's still possible, but if it's ever going to work Alba are simply going to have to massively tone down the near-homicidal rage against the SNP and Sturgeon, and dispense with the pipe-dreams about destroying the SNP and expecting voters to just flock across on cue.

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  12. It takes a very determined willingness to deny reality to make a statement like that. There has never been a Scottish Govt more pro-actively pursuing a route to independence. Even Salmond's Govt that presided over the 2014 referendum had it sprung on them by a UK Govt confident of victory. Salmond wasn't planning on holding a referendum until around 2017; the mid-term of the 2016-21 Parliament preferably. Something the opponents of Sturgeon tend to conveniently forget.

    There has never been a more critical time for Indies to screw the nut and get behind "the only game in town". It is now a definite question of when, not if, the de facto referendum takes place. Hence unionists and their puppets in the Indy movement (step forward the Rev and his thralls) going into overdrive in their attempts to destroy Sturgeon and the pro-indy Scottish Govt.

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    1. Salmond wasn't planning on holding a referendum until around 2017; the mid-term of the 2016-21 Parliament preferably.

      How do we know this? It sounds plausible enough, just interested in the source.

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    2. I can't find anything on-line to back my claim, though I had previously. It appears difficult to get anything on Salmond beyond the 2012 declaration of the 2014 referendum. However, it has always been my understanding that Salmond wanted two terms of SNP Govt, to instil confidence in the Scottish people that they could govern themselves, before calling a referendum. Without evidence though, it is just my opinion.

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  13. This thread has been a positive read. People trying to make sense of where we are and how we move forward.
    A couple of genuinely meant questions : how likely is it that Alba can become a cooly analytical catalyst for the movement without (understandable but counter productive) rage ? How can we minimise the effort we spend. on Wings while still pointing out his biggest porkies and fantasies ?

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    1. Well you've hit it "understandable but counterproductive rage.."

      We have to nudge 1.7% to 5% plus to gain list seats and the vast majority of SNP or yes supporters don't care that much about it for whatever reason. So, it'll probably take say 50 years like replacing labour (which only happened due to a once in a 100 year conviction politician like salmond)..

      But in the next ten years the place will be swarming with nawbags from England just look at both national register of Scotland and sturgeons own nset strategy (which wants even more English people to move here (thus neutering the electoral pleb strategy).

      Aye we're phukt

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    2. Not sure that "pointing out his biggest porkies and fantasies" will be that easy as his blogs are full of links to prove his opinions are well founded, he warned years ago about this (trans issue) before anyone else, but was vilified for it, seems to me that the messenger is being hung by folk with an agenda ?, just sayin.

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    3. A self fulfilling prophecy.

      A once respected blogger starts relentlessly banging on about a subject that has nothing to do with independence and encourages his devotees to spread the word as far and as wide as possible. The many unionist false flaggers on his site chuckle to themselves, give the good news to the NO campaign at large who then exploit it. The band wagon grows and then, years later, blows up in the middle of the Yes movement. Job done.

      In a way, he was warning us. Not of any imagined threat of the GRR bill which is essentially anodyne. But of his personal intention to destroy the FM and all she holds dear. Including independence. And his thralls are equally complicit.

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  14. Scottish Independence Voting Intention:

    NO: 53% (+6)
    YES: 47% (-6)

    Via
    @YouGov
    , On 23-26 January,
    Changes w/ 6-9 December.
    [Undecideds Excluded]

    Westminster Voting Intention (Scotland):

    SNP: 42% (-1)
    LAB: 29% (=)
    CON: 15% (+1)
    LDM: 6% (=)

    Via
    @YouGov
    , On 23-26 January,
    Changes w/ 6-9 December.

    Scottish Parliament Voting Intention:

    Constituency:
    SNP: 44% (-6)
    LAB: 26% (+1)
    CON: 17% (+4)
    LDM: 7% (=)
    GRN: 2% (=)

    Regional list:
    SNP: 36% (-4)
    LAB: 26% (+2)
    CON: 17% (+4)
    GRN: 9% (-2)
    LDM: 6% (=)

    Via
    @YouGov
    , On 23-26 January,
    Changes w/ 6-9 December.

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  15. I've always loved this blog's coverage of opinion polls, but the incisive analysis of Wings' betrayal of the movement has added an impressive new dimension. Thank you so much, James.

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