Brava, Nicola!

An “independence debate”? Perish the thought! There is, of course, no way that Boris Johnson’s operators will put him in a situation where he can be even more humiliated than he was today. The vignette at the door of Bute House as Johnson arrived for his meeting with Nicola Sturgeon offered a fascinating insight into the power dynamic between the pair. And the new British Prime Minister did not come out of it well. On the steps of her official residence, the First Minister gave a master-class in stamping authority. The body language in that brief video clip will be studied and commented on for years to come.

Boris Johnson desperately needed to be the boss in that situation. Especially after the competitive Jock-bashing he and his rivals engaged in throughout the Tory leadership contest. He failed abysmally. Bossing the situation meant being last through the door so as to appear to be the dominant personality; the one in control and shepherding inferiors into a domain made to look his own by the fact that he was ushering visitors into it. When Sturgeon outmanoeuvred Johnson to deprive him of his moment, that had to hurt. Watch the footage and you can see how desperate Johnson was to further signal his alpha status by delivering a pat on the back – or three – as he symbolically pushed the First Minister through her own door. The body language was unmistakable. Boris was bossed in such balletic fashion there is an almost irresistible urge to leap to ones feet shouting, “Brava, Nicola!”

But if this episode hurt Johnson it must have all but crippled his minders. You can almost hear them out of shot hissing, “We rehearsed this!” as they bite their knuckles in fits of tearful frustration. The perils of working for a malignant child-clown bred to believe that deference is his due. Lesson learned. Johnson’s minders will be reluctant to allow their man to be in the same postcode as Nicola Sturgeon, never mind throwing him into the debating arena with someone who has already bested him with such effortless ease and exquisite elegance.

This debate is not going to happen. Not unless Johnson is crazy in ways that nobody has hitherto supposed. And it’s just as well. Because it would be an embarrassingly pointless exercise.

Get past the theatre of Sturgeon’s challenge to Johnson and ask what this “Scottish independence debate” would be about. What would they be debating? What would the proposition? And why? Why would the First Minister of Scotland be debating with the British Prime Minister on a matter in which the latter has absolutely no say? Johnson isn’t resident in Scotland. He cannot, to the best of my knowledge, qualify to vote in the coming referendum. It literally has bugger all to do with him.

Maybe they could debate whether there should even be a referendum. Or what the question on the ballot should be. But, again, this has nothing whatever to do with Johnson. Scotland’s right of self-determination cannot legitimately be denied, and the referendum itself must be held entirely and exclusively under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament.

The British Prime Minister has no more authority in relation to Scotland’s exercise of its right of self-determination than the head of any other foreign government. More to the point, Scotland’s First Minister should not be treating him as if he did have some kind of authority.

Let’s be generous and assume that Nicola Sturgeon was only joking when she challenged Boris Johnson to a Scottish independence debate. Let’s be grateful that such a gruesome spectacle is vanishingly unlikely ever to be thrust upon us. Let’s just watch that Bute House clip on a loop instead. Delightful!

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Sending a message

I find it exceedingly hard to believe that anyone in the Yes movement ever suggested that Carolyn Leckie was wasting her time “trying to persuade Labour members and activists to support independence”. Who among Yes activists is so stupid as to fail to realise that Labour members and activists are prominent among the people we must wean away from the Union? And some of our best prospects for conversion to the cause of normalising Scotland’s constitutional situation.

Perhaps Carolyn has misheard or misread or misunderstood those who point out the futility of hoping that the British Labour Party in Scotland will ever abandon its devotion to the British state, its ruling elites, and the structures of power, privilege and patronage which give succour to any who bend the knee to jealous Britannia.

Or perhaps Carolyn just got a bit carried away with her own rhetoric there. I mean, anybody who uses the term “UDI” obviously isn’t thinking too clearly about what they’re saying. In relation to Scotland, the concept of “UDI” is totally inappropriate and inapplicable. Not to mention the fact that the term itself is nonsensical – when is a declaration of independence NOT unilateral? – or the not totally inconsequential negative associations with white supremacists in colonial era Africa.

Using such an expression is, to say the least, ill-advised. Using it in such a way as to give the impression that “UDI” is an option being seriously considered by anyone in the Yes movement is just embarrassing. I am aware that there is a handful of ill-informed individuals who have latched on to the term, mainly because they imagine it makes them look politically sophisticated while saving them having to spell any words of more than two syllables. I am aware, too, that certain journalists nominally sympathetic to Scotland’s cause like to use the idea of ‘extremist factions’ within the Yes movement to spice up what would otherwise be insipid copy. But I’d like to think Carolyn Leckie doesn’t fall into either of these categories. I prefer to suppose she’s just been a bit sloppy.

Not that Carolyn Leckie has any interest in what I think. I know my place as part of that mass of ‘ordinary’ independence campaigners who are regarded with a mix of sneering disdain and smirking condescension by the self-proclaimed elites of the Yes movement. Just as I recognise that, as an ‘ordinary’ SNP member, my views and concerns and ideas are of no interest to the party managers and leadership. It is not uncommon that those most in need of a bit of street-level wisdom tend to be those least inclined to heed it.

What should I do? What should any ‘ordinary’ Yes activist do? Should we retreat into chastened silence just because the elected elite forget where their power and status stems from? Should we go eat our cereal just because those who claim to speak for us are so scornfully dismissive of what we say? I think not. This is too important for us to keep quiet. I may know my allotted place. I don’t have to accept it. Even if nobody is listening, I am compelled to speak. The less the elites want to hear what ‘ordinary’ independence campaigners have to say, the more, and the more loudly, it needs to be said.

Here’s a bit of that street-level wisdom for Carolyn Leckie and the rest to ignore. Boris Johnson is not listening! Boris Johnson doesn’t care! It is utterly pointless sending any kind of message to him because he won’t receive it; won’t understand it even if he does receive it; and won’t do anything other than instantly reject it even if he both received and understood it.

Boris Johnson is not the one you need to try and influence. That you imagine him to be is a symptom of a colonised mind. Boris Johnson can’t be influenced. Because Boris Johnson just doesn’t care. He can’t be made to change his attitude to Scotland no matter how many people march in however many Scottish towns and cities. Because Boris Johnson just doesn’t care.

Boris Johnson doesn’t care because he doesn’t have to care. The Union means he doesn’t have to care. The No vote in 2014 means he doesn’t have to care.

Boris Johnson isn’t even supposed to care. He’s the British Prime Minister. Beyond ensuring that the people of Scotland continue to be denied the full, effective and dangerous expression of their sovereignty, caring about Scotland is no part of Johnson’s remit.

Sending a message to Boris Johnson may well be the daftest waste of time and effort ever. Because he doesn’t care. It’s the sort of idea that could only be born in a mind that long since lost touch with the reality of Scotland’s predicament. A colonised mind that continues to regard Westminster as the locus of ‘real’ politics and the centre of legitimate political authority. A mind that frets endlessly about the legality of what Scotland does but never thinks to question the legality of what the British state does. A mind urgently in need of a jolt of street-level wisdom such as might just shake it free of its colonised state.

By all means organise mass demonstrations across Scotland. Not for the definitively futile purpose of sending a message to Boris Johnson, but to remind our political leaders that they are supposed to care. They do have to care. They are meant to listen to us and be influenced by us. They are supposed to speak and act for us.

Forget Boris Johnson! Forget Westminster! Forget the British state and all its ugly apparatus! Forget all of it! What possible hope might there be in seeking Scotland’s salvation in the source of the threat to our democracy?

Scotland will not be rescued from the onslaught of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism other than by action taken by the Scottish Government in the Scottish Parliament with the authority of the Scottish people. If ‘ordinary’ people need to send a message to anyone it is to Nicola Sturgeon. A message demanding that she act now to get Scotland out of the Union by whatever means necessary and as a matter of the utmost urgency.

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The threat is great! The time is short!

If Boris Johnson is to visit Scotland shortly after his expected coronation as British Prime Minister, we may anticipate that the “keynote speech” he intends to deliver will contain little in the way of charm and much that is offensive. He might be in Scotland; but he will be addressing an audience mainly in England. An audience of British Nationalists drooling at the prospect of their champion putting those uppity Jocks firmly in their lowly place.

It would be a mistake to think of Johnson as stupid. The man’s intellect may comprise little more than low cunning and an instinctive grasp of base populism, but what more does one need in order to succeed in British politics? Nobody can sensibly claim that these ‘attributes’ have not served him well. Together with the bumbling eccentricity that is all practised affectation, these apparently meagre capacities have helped Johnson rise to the upper strata of the British political elite and allowed him to survive a catalogue of gaffes, catastrophes and misdeeds any one of which would have been sufficient to end most political careers.

Johnson may be more sport of nature than force of nature, but he is not acting alone. Behind the malignant clown-child, deep in the shadows, stand unseen forces content to access power using ‘characters’ such as Johnson as proxies – or tools.

Even as he stumbles into the role of British Prime Minister by way of a series of blunders and pratfalls, Johnson will be aware – or will have been made aware – that his tenure may be short. He knows that he may face an early challenge. He will think of his visit to Scotland as an outing in a coming election campaign. It will be vital that he impress the voters who are crucial to his success in that election – whenever it comes. And Johnson knows that this demands a highly emotional appeal to hard-core ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism calling on every ounce of his instinct for base populism.

We may reasonably expect that Johnson’s ‘Scottish speech’ will signal a start to demolishing devolution and the dismantling of Scotland’s democratic institutions. It is a matter of speculation how far he will go in the early days of his reign. But we must assume he will go all the way. Because what he doesn’t do in the first few days and weeks he will certainly do in the following days and weeks.

It will all be made to sound very reasonable.There will be much talk of ‘unity’ and ‘economic necessity’. What is being done TO Scotland will be portrayed as being done FOR Scotland. The things being removed are, not the essential infrastructure of a functioning democracy, but ‘obstacles’ which cannot be allowed to ‘stand in the way of progress’. This will not be a return to less enlightened times, but the ‘opening of a new chapter’ in Scotland’s ‘proud history’ as part of a Britain about to be made great again be destroying anything that cannot be made purely British.

Much of what is said will be shrouded in obscurantist language. Only later will it be realised that the bit about ‘exploring new economic opportunities’ meant an immediate lifting of the moratorium on fracking. Only afterwards will it become evident that the stuff about ‘making the NHS more efficient’ is a euphemism for absorbing all the UK’s health services into a ‘UK-wide common framework’ the better to offer it up to the hyenas of corporate America.

There will be few references to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government. All the talk will be of the UK Government in Scotland and all the great things that it will be doing for Scotland. There will be no mention of the fact that this unelected and unaccountable shadow administration is to be funded entirely by money that is rightfully Scotland’s.

If Johnson’s speech is not the coup itself, it will be the start of the coup. It will be the start of a process of restoring direct rule from London on a scale and to an extent that Scotland has never before experienced. It will be the birth of a ‘New Union’, strengthened at the cost of democracy. A ‘New Union’ unilaterally defined by and for the ruling elites of the British state. A ‘New Union’ in which Scotland truly is extinguished; our nation’s identity snuffed as it is smothered in a new ‘indivisible and indissoluble’ state.

In his speech, Jonson may well acknowledge the possibility that ‘troublemakers’ might try to derail or hinder his ‘Great Britain Project’. Measures to ‘deal with’ political dissent may be announced, or merely hinted at. Threatened.

We know that all of this will come to pass because we know how imperative it is that the British state keep hold of Scotland. And we know that it cannot be assured of maintaining that hold unless ‘radical’ steps are taken to neutralise the threat from Scotland’s independence movement. Incapable of learning the lessons of history, the British political elite continues to believe it has the power to face down democratic dissent, or suppress it.

One of the dangers in this time of great jeopardy for Scotland is that a timid Scottish Government might seek some compromise in the hope of fending off the worst of what has been described here. Experience and political pragmatism tell us that any such approach will actually be taken by the British as consent for and acceptance of the worst of what has been described here.

As great a threat is the complacency which dismisses all of these threats even as each becomes the reality. Or the idiotic politicking which constantly promises that it will be the next abuse that provokes an appropriate response.

Scotland can afford neither complacency nor compromise. As hard as Johnson and the forces behind him come at us, we must be prepared to go at them even harder. The threat is great. The time is short. The Scottish Government must act boldly, decisively and quickly to protect Scotland.

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Contradictions and inconsistencies

As ‘Minister of the Union’, Boris Johnson might well be expected to defend his assertion that it is the most successful political and economic union in history. He won’t, of course. That would involve stating the ‘positive case for the Union’; a thing of myth and rumour which, if it had any basis in reality, would surely have been enunciated long ere now by one of the countless people who are better qualified than Johnson to speak on such matters.

As with pretty much all such pronouncements from British politicians, Boris Johnson’s claims for the political and economic success of the Union do not stand up to the scrutiny they won’t get from the British media.

A political union which can only be maintained with lies, deceit, denigration and intimidation is not a political union which can sensibly be described as a success.

A political union which at least half the people of Scotland want dissolved and a significant part of the remainder want substantially reformed cannot sensibly be described as a success.

An economic union which is claimed by its proponents to have left Scotland in such a parlous economic condition as to be unable to survive without the financial support of ts neighbour cannot sensibly be simultaneously described as successful.

An economic union cannot sensibly be described as a success even as its media supporters pump out propaganda saying that it has left Scotland’s essential public services limping from crisis to catastrophe.

It is a commonplace that the utterances of Boris Johnson and other ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist fanatics tend to be riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions. Much of which is quite deliberate. Even if these utterances were to be subject to the kind of scrutiny which British political journalists are too professionally incompetent and/or intellectually indolent to undertake, it is advantageous for dishonest political actors to ensure that they cannot be pinned down on a particular position.

The inconsistencies and contradictions which aren’t part of the British politician’s arsenal of deviousness can generally be attributed to their repertoire of idiocy.

The truest indicator of an economic union’s success is surely the prosperity of both, or all, parties to that economic union. But here we have Boris Johnson asserting the success whilst denying the prosperity.

The truest indicator of the success of a political union is surely the contentment of both, or all, parties to that political union. But here we have Boris Johnson asserting the success whilst admitting that extraordinary measures are required to maintain that political union in the face of growing discontent.

Does it really matter whether these contradictions and inconsistencies are the product of malicious mendacity or simple stupidity? Isn’t the sensible response the same either way? Is it not clear that the Union has failed Scotland and must be dissolved?

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Bring down the clowns!

It has, for very good reason, grown all too easy to dismiss the actions of the British state in relation to Scotland as being motivated by pettiness or as the result of incompetence. We see in the likes of Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson (Not to mention the Tory leadership candidates rejected in their favour. Imagine how that must sting!) bumbling clowns playing to an audience so beguiled by the bright lights and sequin sparkle as to think this performance important politics and the tawdry, torn and precariously tilting big-top in which it is being enacted the only place of any consequence.

The clowns know their audience well. They know how it likes to watch the whiteface abuse and humiliate the auguste. They are aware that the loudest and most demonstrative section of the audience identifies with the superior status of the lead clown. They are conscious of how this claque subconsciously associates its myriad hate-figures with the inferior and afflicted fall-guy.

When Hunt, or another of his British ilk, throws a custard pie in Nicola Sturgeon’s face, the audience screams with amused delight as they see in their lumpen imagination Britannia’s bold favourite asserting dominance over her possessions and inflicting defeat and mortification on those who dare challenge her divinely-ordained status. The clowns are adept at pandering to the basest urges of their audience. And should that audience’s enthusiasm for the circus show any signs of flagging, the media is ready to play ringmaster, urging the crowd to renewed frenzies of righteous outrage and vicarious triumph.

To those of us catching glimpses of this spectacle through gaps and rents in the fabric of the circus tent, it seems just that – a show; an entertainment; an interlude. We may readily forget that such performances are, not mere distractions from the serious business of the British state, but the actual conduct of that business. We tend to abstract performances such as the Tory leadership contest from the context of British state affairs and lose sight of the fact that this really is the British political elite doing its day job. We tend to see the clowns as stage actors playing a part when, in fact, they are state actors playing with the lives of real people and the fate of nations.

When the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs withdraws his office’s support for overseas trips made by Scotland’s First Minister, we should not take this lightly. We should not see it as just a clown lashing out with a flimsy paper plate piled high with harmless foam. We should not regard it as only a bit of macho posturing in the hope of impressing the select few who will select the next British Prime Minister not least on the basis of how ‘tough’ the candidate promises to be with those uppity Jocks.

We must take this seriously. We must see this as offensive action on behalf of the ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist ideology which now stands as the greatest threat to Scotland since England’s armies northwards rushed rebellious Scots to crush.

We must see this for the anti-democratic abuse of power that it truly is. We must recognise that this is a senior Minister of the British state seeking to impede the democratically elected First Minister of Scotland in the performance of her solemn duty to the people of Scotland.

We must know this as one of the most explicit manifestations to date of the British state’s imperative to crush democratic dissent in Scotland and eradicate our distinctive political culture.

The First Minister’s primary responsibility is for Scotland. She is wholly and solely accountable to the people of Scotland. The sworn duty of our First Minister is, first and foremost, to safeguard and further Scotland’s interests in accordance with the mandate afforded by the electorate. Whether or not you voted for Nicola Sturgeon or her party, she represents all of Scotland – nation and people – at home and abroad. That is democracy.

To slight our First Minister, as the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has done, is to slight Scotland. To show contempt for the office of First Minister is to show contempt for the people of Scotland who own that office regardless of who the incumbent may be. To attempt to prevent our First Minister from performing her duties and fulfilling her responsibilities is an offence against Scotland’s democracy. To offend against democracy is to offend against all the people who serve and are served by democracy.

We must take this action by the British establishment as a declaration of war. A war to be fought, not with swords and spears on some blood-soaked field, but with truth and justice in the arena of democratic politics. A war, not against a foreign invader, but against an increasingly alien political culture and an appallingly pernicious ideology.

A war, not to assert dominance over another land or people; nor even to defend our own land and people against overt subjugation, but to affirm the fact that Scotland exists as a nation and defend the principle that legitimate political authority in Scotland derives solely and exclusively from the people of Scotland.

Our First Minister acts with that authority. Her every word and deed carries the authority of the people of Scotland. Notwithstanding the pretensions of
certain media-hyped nonentities, Nicola Sturgeon is the head of Scotland’s democratically elected Government sitting in the only Parliament with democratic legitimacy in Scotland.

This is a war, not against England, but against the Union which perverts and corrupts relations between our two nations while encouraging debauched and feckless British politician to presume themselves above the will of Scotland’s people and beyond the reach of our reproach.

Nicola Sturgeon is under attack because the forces behind both Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson are aware of how crucial she is to Scotland’s cause. We have to take seriously the threat of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism. And we can only counter that threat by dissolving the Union and restoring constitutional normality to our nation.

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Under pressure

I despair of people who can meekly accept over three centuries of their sovereignty being denied, but find in the fleeting ascendancy of a malignant child-clown an incentive to end the gross constitutional anomaly under which the nation labours. If Boris Johnson being British Prime Minister is the best reason these people can think of for ending the Union then they really need to do a bit more thinking.

But we take what we can get. Motives are of academic interest only. Voters are not required to justify their choices. There is no space on any ballot paper where voters must provide their reasons for voting as they have. Which, in a way, is a pity. I suspect those ballot papers would make rather interesting reading.

It is gratifying that, whatever their reasons, enough people have switched from No to Yes that the First Minister can be “confident” of victory at last for Scotland’s cause in that new referendum she has been promising for what seems like decades, but can’t possibly be more than a few years. Such is the sense of unrequited urgency that is felt, to a greater or lesser degree, across all of the Yes movement bar the increasingly isolated and besieged pockets of Postponer complacency.

The question most are asking is when will that confidence be translated into the bold, decisive action that may yet save Scotland from the onslaught of ‘One Nation’ British Nationalist fervour that threatens our democracy, our prosperity and our very identity as a nation? Not to mention our vital public services.

Opinion polls won’t do it. No number of opinion polls, however favourable, will end the Union and restore Scotland to normality. That will only happen when our First Minister decides to cast aside the rules and procedures imposed for the preservation of the Union and the advantage of the British ruling elite. It will only happen when Nicola Sturgeon knows in her heart and her head that the odds favour Yes.

It is her calculation to make. Few doubt that she is politically capable. Fewer still doubt her personal commitment to the restoration of Scotland’s independence. But time is running out. The British establishment understands what is at stake. If there is one certainty in today’s chaotic political condition it is that the British state will move to thwart Scotland’s aspiration to be a normal nation again. For established power, that is an imperative.

Knowing the imperative, we need only look at the options available to anti-democratic British Nationalist to be in a position to predict, with some certainty, what they will do. Broadly speaking, the British state can be expected to attack one or more of the five components parts of Scotland’s independence movement – the SNP, which is the lever by which Scotland will be prised out of the detested Union; The Scottish Government, which is the fulcrum on which the lever moves; the Scottish Parliament which form the solid base on which the lever rests and the Yes movement. which supplies the force to move the lever.

It will be pointed out that all of these are already under attack – with the possible exception of the Yes movement, which doesn’t present a good target. what is happening now; what has happened to date in terms of smearing the SNP, denigrating the Scottish Government and undermining the Scottish Parliament is mere sparring compared to the onslaught which awaits us the other side of Brexit. The contenders for the job of British Prime Minister have all made it abundantly clear that bringing Scotland to heel, by whatever means, is among their top priorities. They will seek to make good on their threats.

The burden of responsibility which rests on Nicola Sturgeon’s shoulders is massive. The decisions she must make have profound implications. The task she faces is daunting in the extreme. She must act before the British state contrives new obstacles and impediments. She must act while the various parts of the independence movement are intact and strong. She must act very soon – and with relentless determination.

For our part, we must continue to urge the First Minister to act. The pressure we put on Nicola Sturgeon translates into the power she wields against the British state. So pile it on! Even if it is only to avoid the ignominy of Boris Johnson being able to declare himself Scotland’s overlord.

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Wrong target

Why? Why is Ian Blackford demanding the release of the “Boris Johnson bust-up tape“? Of what possible concern is this to the people of Scotland? It’s not as if we are currently deceived about Johnson’s character. Few, if any at all, are in need of being disabused of notions that the man is other than unworthy for public office, low or high. The content of this recording could add nothing useful to our knowledge.

It is not Johnson’s behaviour that Ian Blackford should be deploring, but the fact that such an individual as we already know him to be can be imposed on Scotland by a combination of British Tories in thrall to a demented British Nationalist ideology and English voters whose appreciation of democratic politics has been so soured by experience and media manipulation as to bid them see in Johnson some manner of dragon-slaying hero.

If Ian Blackford’s purpose is to ensure that Johnson’s elevation is thwarted, again we must ask why? How is Scotland served by preventing Boris Johnson becoming British Prime Minister only to hand the role to someone who is different only in the particulars of his unsuitability for that role?

Mr Blackford’s outrage is surely justified; and may well be regarded as virtuous as his demands are reasonable. But he should be wary. British politics is so corrupt that even to touch it with the barge-pole of condemnation is to risk contamination. Better to stand aside from and above the mess.

Better to direct that outrage and condemnation at the device by which Scotland is made subject to the vile machinations of the British political parties and the irrational whims of the English electorate. Rather than urging the release of some entirely redundant evidence of Boris Johnson’s debauchery, Mr Blackford would be more usefully employed demanding Scotland’s release from the abomination that is the Union.

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