Snow job

The problem I have with celebrity British Nationalists who profess even a partial and equivocal conversion to democracy is that they invariably account for this dubious change of heart by claiming that something has changed since they vehemently denied Scotland’s right of self-determination – and even Scotland’s status as a nation. Nothing has changed!

Things have happened. Situations have developed. But the fundamentals have not changed in any way at all. Scotland’s right of self-determination is now as it ever has been. Scotland’s status as a nation is now as it always was. The reasons for Scotland needing to restore its independence haven’t changed, because the Union hasn’t changed.

All that has happened is that things such as Brexit and situations such as the descent of the British political elite into farce have made it more difficult for people like Dan Snow to rationalise the contempt for democratic principles which remains a defining characteristic of their ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist ideology.

Dan Snow’s fervid attitude to borders strikes me as quite puerile. It is not borders that are problematic – indeed, they are essential – but the nature of what lies either side of the border. To put it every bit as simplistically as Snow does, if the people on each side of the border are content to look after their own affairs while allowing their neighbours to do likewise; and if both are capable of addressing shared concerns in a spirit of respect and maturity, then there is no problem

Problems arise when the entity on one side of the border treats the entity on the other side with overbearing contempt and seeks to dominate and subsume it. The border between Scotland and England is not the problem. ‘One Nation’ British Nationalists like Dan Snow are the problem.



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The mechanical and the organic

There’s a strong sense that Ian Blackford is being politic. That he is saying what was required in response to direct criticism. I do not get the impression that this is a thoughtful response. The sentiment is worthy. But sentiment alone is not sufficient.

The criticism that the wider Yes movement is being ignored by the SNP is dismissed with just the right amount of sincerity tinged with precisely the correct degree of indignation. The warmth of the reassurance is nicely calculated. The idea of a shared aim is well conveyed. But what does any of it mean in practical terms?

I want to know how, exactly, we are all supposed to “work collectively together”. I know the Yes movement takes lectures from nobody when it comes to networking and cooperation. I also know that the SNP runs a formidable election-winning machine. What I want to know is how the various components might be brought together to develop and conduct an effective referendum campaign.

I know that Nicola Sturgeon is just the kind of political leader the nation needs at this time. I know that the Yes movement has evolved to find find leadership as it is required. But can Nicola Sturgeon provide the leadership that the Yes movement needs. And can the Yes movement accept Nicola Sturgeon as the source of that leadership?

I know that a political movement and a political party are very different beasts. How might both be harnessed to a campaign which stands apart from both party and movement?

I appreciate the conciliatory tone of Ian Blackford’s remarks. But I want to hear his thoughts on how party and movement arrive at a functioning accommodation. Or, if that is too much to ask, at least some indication that he and his colleagues are thinking about the practical aspect of that accommodation.



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Someone else’s auntie

If the SNP really did “hope that by highlighting BBC activity now, the next independence referendum will see fairer coverage of the Yes case” then they would be guilty of grievously misapprehending the nature of the BBC. But, of course, the party leadership harbours no such forlorn hope. They realise full well that the BBC is the voice of the British establishment. And, more importantly, that it can never be anything else.

The SNP has been ramping up its criticism of the BBC, in part, because the corporation has become ever more brazen in its efforts to give prominence to the British establishment while sidelining what it regards as the periphery. But mainly as a way of undermining the credibility and authority of the BBC in Scotland.

That credibility and authority has already been seriously weakened as the BBC has been kept under constant scrutiny by people such as Professor John Robertson and G A Ponsonby and David Hooks. So effective has this scrutiny been that the SNP now feels able to put its weight behind the effort to expose how badly the BBC is failing Scotland.

The BBC can never serve Scotland. A national public service broadcaster should be the communities of the nation talking among themselves. The BBC can never be other than the British establishment talking AT Scotland. We can tolerate British broadcasting TO Scotland. But only if we also have Scottish broadcasting IN Scotland.



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Challenging power

The National asked Scotland Secretary Mundell and the Scotland Office to comment. In response, a UK Government spokesman said: “The role of the Secretary of State for Scotland is to champion Scottish interests at the heart of government and to strengthen Scotland’s place in the UK. With the Scottish Government proposing an unwanted and divisive second independence referendum next year, that role is more important than ever.”

Scrap Mundell’s role and the Scotland Office, says MPs’ report

Let’s just take a wee look at the above excerpt from Kirsteen Paterson’s article. The first thing we note is that when The National approached Mundell and the Scotland Office for comment it was the UK Government which responded on their behalf. That alone tells us all we need to know about the role and status of Mundell and the Scotland Office. They are no more than a front for the British state in Scotland. Their voice is the voice of their masters in London. They most decidedly do not speak for Scotland in any way.

Imagine you were talking to a couple and asked the woman’s opinion on something only for the man to respond on her behalf. What would that suggest about the man’s attitude to the woman? Would it suggest an attitude of respect?

Despite the Scotland Office being part of the British establishment, it is clearly regarded as inferior by the British political elite who operate David Mundell as a ventriloquist operates his dummy. Why? Could it be because they are nominally ‘Scottish’ and the Union dictates that Scotland must be subordinate in all things and at all times?

Now, in the light of what we know about the nature of the relationship between England-as-Britain and Scotland as presumed by the UK Government, let’s examine the statement made by the UK Government because Mundell was not trusted to speak. It begins with the patently false assertion that “the role of the Secretary of State for Scotland is to champion Scottish interests at the heart of [UK] government”. We know this to be false. The true role of the Secretary of State for Scotland is made totally explicit in the fact that he works for something called ‘The UK Government in Scotland’. And, of course, by the way Mundell disports himself. No dispassionate observer would ever suppose Mundell was making any effort to “champion Scottish interests” even if said observer was unaware of the fact that Mundell has absolutely no mandate from the people of Scotland.

Mundell is quite open about his ambition to trample all over the devolution settlement and re-impose direct rule from London. That’s what is meant by the term “UK-wide common framework”. How can contempt for the Scottish Parliament be in Scotland’s interests?

Let’s talk!

I enjoy visiting groups throughout Scotland to talk about the constitutional issue.

I will travel anywhere in Scotland if it is at all practical.

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Mundell is also the power behind the throne occupied by Ruth Davidson as ‘Queen of the BritNats’. He is at least her equal in his determination to deny Scotland’s right of self-determination. He does not champion Scotland’s interests in the British state, he champions anti-democratic British Nationalism in Scotland.

Which brings me neatly to my main point – Scotland’s right of self-determination which is inalienable and, notwithstanding the dictatorial rhetoric of Mundell and Davidson or the macho posturing of Tory leadership candidates, cannot be denied. Go back to that ‘His Master’s Voice’ statement from the UK Government again. Note the claim that the Secretary of State for(?) Scotland has an “important” role in a new independence referendum. Let’s scrutinise that claim.

If, as is evidently assumed, the UK Government represents the superior party to an asymmetric political union then, according to well established principles of international law, the Secretary of State for Scotland – being an agent of said superior party – can have no role whatever in the process by which the right of self-determination is exercised.

See, for example, the ‘Principles Guiding Relations between Participating States’ which form part of the Helsinki Final Act, adopted by the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe in 1975. Principle VIII states,

By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, all peoples always have the right, in full freedom, to determine, when and as they wish, their internal and external political status, without external interference, and to pursue as they wish their political, economic, social and cultural development.

Helsinki Final Act

The British state cannot have it both ways. If it is a superior entity asserting the power to impose policies on Scotland regardless of the will of Scotland’s people as expressed by the Scottish Parliament, as well as the authority to deny or constrain Scotland’s right of self-determination, then it cannot also be a participant in the process by which the people of Scotland “in full freedom” determine “their internal and external political status”. This would clearly constitute unlawful “external interference” and a breach of internationally recognised principles.

The power and authority over Scotland which the British state asserts must be robustly challenged. When it is, it will surely be found to lack any standing in law as well as any democratic legitimacy.



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Lies and laziness

It is impossible to overstate the significance of the fact that the Spanish government’s true position – as outlined in the statement by Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo – was known throughout the 2014 referendum campaign. It was known by the SNP. It was known by Yes activists. It was known by anybody who cared to find out.

More importantly, it was known by the British politicians who were peddling the notion of a ‘Spanish veto’. It was known by the journalists who colluded with those politicians in pushing the scare stories about Scotland’s post-independence status in relation to the EU. The information about Spain’s official policy with regard to independent Scotland’s EU membership was purposefully suppressed by the British establishment. All the apparatus of the British state – including tame journalists – was deployed to keep from Scotland’s voters information that was crucial to their ability to make an informed choice in the 2014 referendum.

When those British politicians talked up a ‘Spanish veto’, they were lying. When journalists failed to challenge those lies on the basis of contradictory information in their possession, they arguably behaved even more deplorably than those lying British politicians.

But voters are adults. They are assumed to be capable of informing themselves and properly considering all the available facts and arguments. Those who voted No failed abysmally in this regard. We have to believe that they simply didn’t bother seeking out information or listening to arguments. Because the only alternative is to accept that they were relaxed about being wilfully misinformed; happy to be deceived; content to be lied to.

No voters may not be culpable in the same sense as those lying British politicians or the journalists who colluded in the deception, but they are not blameless.

The reality is that the dishonesty of the British state’s propaganda was obvious enough to be seen by anybody who cared to look. And it didn’t take any kind of specialist knowledge to work out the truth that those mercenary journalist lackeys of the British state were trying to conceal. Many ordinary ‘citizen journalists’ were writing about it at the time . I make no claim to any kind of intellectual superiority. So, if I was able to figure it out, why weren’t those who voted No just as capable of doing so?

The fact is, they were just as capable. But they simply didn’t bother. They may not be guilty of the same kind of maliciousness as those involved in Better Together / Project Fear, but they are surely guilty of intellectual indolence.

And what of those who persist in their loyalty the Union despite the unfailing, malevolent mendacity of the very people they insist we should entrust with Scotland’s fate? What are we to make of people who demand that we accept a Union which puts us at the mercy of proven liars?

What are we to make of a Union which can only be sustained by deceit, dishonesty and menace?



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Forever Yes!

However interesting or, very occasionally, insightful Pete Wishart may be, he can always be relied upon to spoil the statesmanlike pose he seeks to strike by saying something profoundly stupid. In this case it’s the truly inane notion that anybody might suppose a second referendum defeat would be “consequence-free”. I confidently assert that nobody has ever made such a claim and that nobody actually believes such obvious idiocy.

So why does Pete Wishart feel the need to call in aid such a clownish straw man? Perhaps because his analysis is so shallow and weak it needs whatever straw man it can clutch at.

What Pete Wishart says about Canada’s federal system and Quebec’s place within it is interesting. His conclusion that there can be no way to replicate such a federal structure in the UK could quite reasonably be described as insightful – even if it is hardly a novel or, indeed, an uncommon insight. But he utterly fails to follow through the logical implications for any comparison between Scotland’s independence cause and the cause promoted by the Parti Quebecois. He notes the huge differences between the two situations, then abandons rational analysis to conclude that, despite these massive differences, the fate of Quebec’s independence movement would be exactly matched in Scotland were we also to lose a second independence referendum.

Apart from his pursuit of John Bercow’s job, Pete Wishart is probably best known for his hyper-cautious approach to a new constitutional referendum in Scotland. In numerous articles and statements he has made it clear that he favours indefinite delay. He believes in something called the ‘Optimal Time’ – a perfect moment when all circumstances align so as to make victory for Yes absolutely certain. He also believes that it is possible to predict this moment many months in advance – although he has never, to the best of my knowledge, explained how the ‘Optimal Time’ might be identified. He has never, as far as I am aware, set out the criteria by which the ‘Optimal Time’ might be defined.

Believing that losing a second referendum could be “consequence-free” seems almost sensible compared to believing in the ability to foresee something which can’t even be described.

But Pete Wishart’s faith is more than a match for any reasoned argument about the difficulties of predicting something which we will only be able to recognise after it has happened. And maybe not even then. His faith in the wisdom of indefinitely delaying a new referendum is sufficient to overcome any concerns about the implications of such a course of inaction. He really does seem to believe that delay is “consequence-free”.

His belief in a mystical ‘Optimal Time’ is such that every analysis must be bent to its service. Thus, he is no doubt genuinely incapable of seeing that the impossibility of a Quebec-style constitutional settlement; the fundamental nature of the British state; and the motivations of Scotland’s independence cause all conspire to make it extremely unlikely that Scotland’s civic nationalist movement would be affected by a second defeat in any way similarly to Quebec’s sovereigntist movement.

Quebec’s independence movement has largely died because it was possible to find a constitutional settlement within the federation which was satisfactory. Scotland’s independence movement won’t die because the Union makes a satisfactory settlement impossible.

Independence is inevitable, and the independence cause indefinitely sustainable, because any constitutional arrangement within the UK which succeeds in terms of the aims, ambitions and purposes of the British state necessarily fails in terms of the needs, priorities and aspirations of Scotland’s people.

Of course, losing a second referendum would not be “consequence-free”. But what Pete Wishart determinedly refuses to recognise is that the consequences of delay are no different from the consequences of defeat. To assume the ability to survive the former is to assume we would survive the latter.

There are many ways in which the independence cause might suffer another setback. But I know the Yes movement well enough to realise that nothing would break its spirit more certainly than looking back and seeing that we lost because we were afraid to try.

There is no ‘Optimal Moment’ waiting to be discovered. There is only the moment you seize and make of what you can.

Let’s talk!

I enjoy visiting groups throughout Scotland to talk about the constitutional issue.

I will travel anywhere in Scotland if it is at all practical.

I do not charge a fee.

I do not ask for expenses but will accept contributions if offered.

I aim to cover all costs from donations to this site.

If you would like to discuss a visit to your group please email speaker@peterabell.scot

You did this!

I’m sure almost all of us share the First Minister’s sentiments regarding Scotland’s NHS. I suspect that, even among Tories who believe with all the conviction of a religious fundamentalist that privatisation is the answer to everything, there are grave doubts about putting our health service into the hands of heartlessly grasping US corporations.

It is surely safe to assume that, among those horrified by the prospect of American-style privatised healthcare, there are many who voted No in the 2014 independence referendum and many who voted Leave in the 2016 EU referendum. They will no doubt protest that there was no way they could have foreseen this threat to NHS Scotland when they voted as they did. They will seek comfort in that lie.

The truth is that on both occasions ample warnings were given about the risks involved in, firstly, remaining part of the British state and, subsequently, allowing Scotland to be caught up in the rampant British Nationalist fervour which drove the insanity of Brexit.

You were told! You chose to disregard the warnings. At least now take responsibility for your actions and seek to make amends.

Those who were duped into voting No and deceived into voting Leave should be among the loudest voices demanding that the Union be dissolved so that Scotland’s public health service can be saved. They should be among the most alarmed at the consequences of their actions. They should be eager to try and put right the harm that they have helped to cause.

Instead, many will convince themselves that there was no way of knowing how disastrous a No vote would be for Scotland. They will persuade themselves that it wasn’t possible to make a connection between a vote to Leave the EU and a situation in which the British political elite would so desperate for anything that could be spun as a good trade deal they’d offer up Scotland’s public services to the vultures and hyenas of corporate America.

In the Yes movement, we will be urged to allow them their self-serving delusion. We will be told that we must not berate No voters for having voted No in the honest belief that this was right for Scotland. Perhaps the greatest nonsense within the independence movement is the notion that we must persuade people to make different choices whilst constantly assuring them that there was nothing wrong with their previous choice.

I’m here to assure those No voters that it is all their fault. They did this. They put our fate in the hands of people like Theresa May and Boris Johnson and Michael Gove and David Mundell. They had a straightforward choice between putting their faith in the people of Scotland and giving carte blanche to the British political elite. They chose the latter. And, now that the consequences of that choice are becoming clear even to those who wilfully disregarded all the warnings, it’s up to them to say what they are prepared to do in an effort to rectify the damage they helped unleash on Scotland.

No voters have to ask themselves whether their Union is more precious than NHS Scotland and everything else that has been put in jeopardy by their choice.



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