Lesley Riddoch’s theory seems to be that if the SNP plays nice with the British parties then maybe they’ll let us join in their game of British politics. And if we play very nice they may even reward us with the baubles and beads of high office. And if we play very, very nice, they could even see their way to letting us exercise our democratic right of self-determination.
And, if we are really quite exceptionally nice for long enough then perhaps, when we choose to restore Scotland’s independence, they won’t throw a petulant tantrum and get all “standoffish, combative, self-harming, dogmatic and partisan”.
Now, I appreciate that Lesley presents this as a very tentative theory. She swaddles it with caveats, provisos, conditions, qualifiers and disclaimers. But it seems to me that what she describes involves a massive investment of trust and compromise by the SNP with absolutely no firm assurance of any return at all. And whatever dividend there may be amounts to nothing more than what we already own or are clearly entitled to.
It all sounds lovely. Everybody getting along; working together; treating each other with respect. All collegiate and cooperative. All harmony and light.
It’s just not British! And that’s the problem. Lesley’s notional “unity government” faces two rather significant obstacles – the nature of the British political elite; and the nature of the Union.
The British political elite doesn’t do respect for Scotland’s elected representatives. It does EVEL. The Union doesn’t make provision for popular sovereignty and the kind of democracy Scotland aspires to. It imposes the sovereignty of parliament and executive as proxy for a monarch and tolerates only such democracy as poses no threat to established power.
The British establishment deals with challenges to its power in one of two ways. The challenger is either crushed out of existence, or it is absorbed into the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. What Lesley describes sounds horribly like the SNP letting itself be enveloped in the coils of the snake.
I can think of no more grotesque contradiction than an SNP MP at the head of the UK Government in Scotland. That’s not playing nice. That’s being played.
If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.