This is the third and final part of a series began earlier in the week, explaining why I, as a 2014 Yes voter have taken the painful decision to vote No if there is another IndyRef soon.
The response to these essays has been astounding. Thousands have read them. Literally hundreds of messages, questions etc. Even the press have caught on to it (watch this space!). To those who were kind enough to ask, yes I still have the lurgy and that’s why I’m able to finish this. To those who have been inquiring about my mental stability – I’m fine! But thanks for asking.
For those who have been tweeting like mad in denial mode – suggesting that I am the only SNP supporter thinking like this, I’m sorry but I have been contacted by many SNP supporters who agree with my position and are thankful that someone is speaking out.
Some of the attacks have been bizarre – not just the personal abuse but also the irrelevant ad hom attacks. Some of the saddest have been those who attack my Christianity and Church – despite the fact that I specifically state in all the articles that I am not speaking on behalf of the Church, and this is my own political not theological views. As for the man who accused me of using the Church to further my political ‘ambissions’ (sic) I have to say that I have no political ambitions at all, and if I did, writing a blog like this would kill them off!
For those who object to my saying that faith in the EU has become like a religious cult and then furiously attack me for being a heretic – thanks. You prove my point. I am reminded of Richard Feynman’s saying:
“I would rather have questions that can’t be answered, than answers that can’t be questioned”
But now lets move on to part three – the Dream.
So far I have argued that those who really want an Independent Scotland should vote NO at the next Indy Ref (if it happens) because a Scotland tied into the EU will not be really independent. I have also expressed concern that the SNP in their EU obsession do not allow debate and that they are governing the country in the same way as they run the party – seeking to limit dissent and demonise those of us who don’t buy into the EU myth. Now I want to think the unthinkable.
1) Because of its Hubris and Short-Sightedness, the SNP are destroying the dream of Scottish Independence.
The trouble is that like all the ‘unco righteous’ the elites who govern us live in a small cocoon, talk to each other and listen only to their own media. They live in an echo chamber where the National and the Sunday Herald have become the confirmation bias, alternative facts of the new post truth administration. And they of course are backed up by the social media mobs.
Thomas Carlyle – “It is unfortunate, though very natural, that the history of this period has so generally been written in hysterics. Exaggeration abounds, execration, wailing; and on the whole, darkness.” (1837 – History of the French Revolution).
If you doubt any of this you should see my Twitter feed over the past few days.
I’m not sure whether there is someone in party HQ sending out links to activists, or whether these activists, politicians and journalists just live in an echo chamber where they automatically retweet each others posts, but today is a classic example of how it works. Suddenly we are all being told that EU civil servants are in consultation about ‘fast tracking’ an Independent Scotland into the EU, according to this article in Buzzfeed
…this seems somewhat contradicted by this article in The Scotsman . You will note how the Buzzfeed article is typical of these types – they are speculative, full of ‘ifs and buts’ and based upon ‘gossip’ about what ‘might’ happen. This will do nothing to persuade the doubters. Especially when we have Scottish government ministers telling us that £3 billion per year will be a price worth paying for being in the EU. A Scotland that is already £15 billion in debt is going to add another £3 billion just to belong to the EU – and exclude us from other world markets without their permission. There will be no Barnett formula from the EU, instead there will be a Berlin formula where we are expected to subsidise them!
However the purpose of this kind of ‘news’ is not to convince doubters but to reassure the true believers. This confirmation bias, listening only to those who tell you what you want to hear approach has led the SNP down a disastrous approach as regards Brexit. Egged on by their more enthusiastic followers, who genuinely believe that the ‘independence Nirvana in Europe’ is just one vote away, they have gambled with Scottish independence – and, despite more hysteria caused by a Herald poll today – they are losing. Big time. I said months ago that all Theresa May had to do was sit tight, get on with things, and ignore the increasingly hysterical threats from the Scottish government and she would get everything she wanted. The SNP were bluffing. And their bluff has been called.
Let me say a word about the Herald poll and how it is reported – and thereafter tweeted. 49% of people now want Indy we are told. But then you read the small print and you find that that figure excludes the DKs (Don’t Knows). Strange that the Herald did not publish the full figures but I eventually found them. The reality is that 43% of those polled said they would be likely to vote Yes next time. That is nowhere near what is needed to call a winnable referendum. But that won’t stop the true believers who now all buy into the ‘we are starting from a higher threshold than last time’ and ‘we haven’t started campaigning yet’. The first statement is true but irrelevant because the second statement isn’t. The campaigning has never stopped. Yet despite this the supposed Brexit surge hasn’t happened and we are stuck where we were before – except with greater uncertainty about the economy, about using the Euro and about relationships with the rest of the UK.
Such a Parcel of Rogues…
For me the absolute low point was when Mike Russell and Nicola Sturgeon went crawling to the UK government and offered a ‘compromise’ that was basically ‘we will give up on the idea of Scottish independence, if you ensure that Scotland stays in the Single Market’. In effect we had a Scottish Independence party offering to give up one on kind of independence (that from the UK) so that it could give up on another kind of independence (that of freedom from the EU). And lets stop pretending it was a ‘compromise’. It was nothing of the sort. It was a gamble that failed.
Being Scottish I know what it is like to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Its part of our sporting psyche which our politicians also seem to adapt. They have also learned the art of turning defeats into mythical victories. In this weeks Brexit debate every one of the SNPs amendments was overwhelmingly defeated and yet we had the absurd sight of the SNP withdrawing one of the amendments in order ‘to give the Prime Minister a second chance’. She must have been quaking in her boots! They were giving up something they had no chance of winning in order to threaten something they had no chance of delivering.
Speaking of Westminster, there is a real problem with the influx of SNP MPs to Westminster in that there is a substantial lack of depth, experience and quality. The leader Angus Robertson has shown he has real quality and he comes across really well – and there are others. But overall there is a shallowness and smugness that is not really helping Scotland or its people. Take for example the Brexit debate – so much of it was showboating and grandstanding. It may feel awfy clever to put down 50 amendments, to have angry Salmond shout at the Speaker, and to whistle ‘Ode to Joy’, the EU’s national anthem, as the vote is taken – but apart from getting favourable press in the already favourable press, what good does it do? At the end of the day the SNP lost every single one of their amendments and basically got nothing for the Scottish people and ensured that the Westminster government now knows they can do without Scottish support. This was not our finest moment. And this was not Alex Salmonds…
I don’t believe that in a sane world that there would be any possibility of the SNP calling IndyRef2. There is little chance that it would be won, it would be incredibly destabilizing, do harm to the Scottish economy and hold up the normal politics we now need to get some of the problems in our society sorted before they become worse. But IndyRef2 may have to happen because having marched her troops up to the top of the hill; it would be difficult for Nicola to march them back down again.
My view is that the SNP having seen their membership increase in a wave of emotional enthusiasm after the failure of Indy Ref 1, will either have to call Indy Ref 2 and then suffer the consequences of losing and we will get the next ten years complaining about the betrayal. Or they will back off, knowing it can’t be won, and still complain about betrayal. Or perhaps the only hope they have is that they will call it and Westminster will refuse, thus allowing us to play the part of the downtrodden victim again. It’s the old Scottish cringe – ‘it wasne us’. But…
2) I still have a dream –
The dream is not that we have Indy Ref 2 and win – because I think that would be a nightmare. Not just the break up of the UK at a time of great international political and economic uncertainty, but the incorporation of Scotland into an increasingly corporate EU, the adoption of the failing Euro and an even more authoritarian Scottish government, reliant on the EU, and seeking to push its policies.
I hope and pray that some in the SNP will come to their senses and have a real and radical rethink of policy. It was interesting that a feeler was put out last week about the SNP giving up on EU membership even after Indy arrives so that we can be like Norway – I think that the SNP hierarchy know that their present obsession with the EU cannot deliver independence, because many of us who believe in independence don’t share the obsession!
I know that I have no say in this and even more so now will be persona non grata. Mike Russell tweeted publicly last week
It was that tweet that was the final straw in my writing this. Maybe politicians should be careful about what they tweet in public? Is Mike Russell the Donald Trump of the SNP?! I know Mike has given up debating with me, but did he ever start? In fact let me offer a simple challenge – if Mike is actually willing to debate and exchange ideas – then name the time and place…more than happy to oblige and take part in the conversation! He is a good intelligent man and I think a good politician, but he seems to have caught this post truth SNP disease where he doesn’t debate. He has taken to resorting to soundbites, press releases and on the loyalty and efficiency of his party machine. When someone disagrees with you it does not help to call him or her names and accuse them of sophistry. As for exchange of ideas – that would be wonderful! But the current SNP does not do exchange of ideas – it hands down doctrine from on high and expects everyone to follow the same ideas. But just in case anyone is listening – here are a few ideas that I think will prevent the impending decline and implosion of the SNP. Take them or leave them.
1) The SNP should stop grandstanding and being delusional over Brexit. It’s going to happen and we need to stop thinking that we are going to be the saviours or defenders of Europe. Unfortunately our troops have been marched up to the top of the hill and we are either going to march them down again, or throw them headlong into the valley of death! The SNP should do what it can to co-operate with the UK government and get as much powers for Scotland as possible.
2) We need to start using the powers we have! All this talk without action doesn’t really help.
a) Can we have a separate and special ring fenced tax for the NHS in Scotland? I wouldn’t mind paying more for that. And I’m sure most others wouldn’t. I’m not talking about adding a couple of pennies to the income tax rate; I’m talking about a new tax that would be totally ring-fenced for the NHS in Scotland. The Scottish government have the power to do this. Its time to stop moaning about Westminster cuts and instead of talking about ‘progressive’ taxation, get on with doing it! Also can we stop offering to pay for abortions from other countries and instead seek to offer better mother and baby support in this one? And what about social care – especially for the elderly? And support services for the mentally ill?
b) Education is in dire need of radical reform. Can we move to a Dutch type system – with free schools and much more diversity and variety? The decline in Scottish education standards is something that needs to be urgently addressed. Just throwing money at it is not the solution, because money is not primarily the problem.
c) Can we look for the Scottish Economic Opportunities on Brexit? We already export more to the US than to any EU country. We export more to the rest of the world than to the EU and the USA. And of course England, Wales and Northern Ireland are our major economic partners. Instead of relying on EU subsidies (or indeed UK subsidies) can we not grow up and stand on our own two feet? Can we not get away from the dependency culture? We are a wealthy society – one of the wealthiest in the world. We don’t need subsidies from Westminster, or from Brussels. We can be independent. We can grow up.
d) Can we move away from dependence on the State sector, and multi-nationals and can we not encourage small business, local enterprise and local initiatives? I think of my own city Dundee, where we are about to lose £100 million per year because of welfare changes. We need to move away from a welfare society. Does anyone else find it strange that fruit farmers around Dundee are worried about Brexit because they could lose their cheap labour from Eastern Europe, and yet the ‘berry busses’ have gone? Apparently one third of workless homes (that is homes with people aged between 16 and 64) in Glasgow cite as their reason for not working, disability. There are some areas where 25% of people claim to be disabled. I do not believe that ridiculous statistic. Perhaps we need a revival of the much-reviled ‘Protestant work ethic’. If a society will not work, it will not eat.
e) Can we have a greater awareness of our society and cultural heritage and seek to support the greatest traditions of our past – including the centrality and importance of the family? The failed social liberalism of the 1960’s has been a disaster for the family and a disaster for the poor. Family support should be key. Instead of dealing with the social liberal fantasies of the 60’s we need to deal with the realities of humanity.
f) Can we move away from the increasing centralisation to Edinburgh and Glasgow and instead have a greater re-distribution to local areas, and more local autonomy? In this age of the Internet there is no need for the vast majority of government jobs to go to the two biggest cities, and the rest of us be left with the crumbs.
g) Can we return to the basic principles of the Beveridge report? – The Beveridge report was from another time and could only work in a society which accepted basic Christian principles and a basic Christian ethos. That’s why it did work. It set up our modern welfare state to deal with the Five Giants of Poverty, Ignorance, Disease, Squalor and Idleness. Although it is a different society, perhaps we need to return to that holistic philosophy? I don’t believe that the NHS and Welfare State can survive unless there is radical reform and a radical change in attitudes in society. There are so many personal examples I could give of this. I think of the businessman lying in ICU after a night on the brew in which he claimed to have spent £1,000 on booze, yelling at the nurses ‘get me out of here, you’re supposed to heal me..I pay my taxes”. I think of the man who fathered 14 children by nine different women and boasted that he would continue, because the State would pay – ‘that’s my right’. I think of the middle aged woman who hasn’t worked for 30 years and will not work, because for her to get a job which matches her current incapacity benefit would mean that she had to earn over £25,000 per year. And before you complain that I’m having a go at the poor – I’m not. What infuriates me is that there are honest people who are really hard done by because they are honest – like the woman who admitted to the ‘Brew’ that she was earning 50p an hour cleaning a woman’s home and got penalised for it – so that she only ate one meal per day – or the thousands who visit foodbanks every week. Besides which the middle class and the rich know how to work the system and scrounge more benefits than the poor.
The political situation in Scotland is very much in flux. I think that unless the SNP changes we have reached ‘peak SNP’ and there will either be an implosion or more likely a gradual decline. They still have some of the best politicians in the land (John Swinney, Roseanna Cunningham, Fergus Ewing, Alex Neil and rising stars like Katie Forbes) and Nicola Sturgeon is a good leader with I believe a genuine concern and compassion for people. I just wish she hadn’t been blinded by this progressive pro-EU ideology.
Labour are all at sea, lacking leadership both nationally and UK wide, although they do have some fine individual politicians – I am very impressed for example with Jenny Marra and Elaine Smith. The Liberals are nice and small….and they have Willie Rennie who has been much more effective than some thought he would be. The Greens are led by one of the smartest ideologues in the country, Patrick Harvie and one of the brightest young talents, Ross Greer. The only trouble is that it is an ideology that will wreck havoc across the country.
The Tories are for me the big surprise. I never thought I would see a revival of Tory fortunes in Scotland, because the term itself seemed poisonous, but it’s happening. I admit I was wrong about Ruth Davidson – I was not sure that she had the experience or the political nous to lead the Scottish party – but she has done an impressive job. I think there are a variety of other factors involved in the Tory revival, not least in the quality of some of their established politicians like Jackson Carlaw and Murdo Fraser and also in the rising stars of Ross Thompson and the ever-impressive Adam Tomkins. I also think that new MSPs like Gordon Lindhurst and Jeremy Balfour are worthy editions to the Scottish Parliament.
The irony is that the SNP are handing the initiative to the Tories. How? By destroying Labour, sidelining the Lib-Dems, they have allowed the Tories to become the only effective opposition. Us Scots are a thrawn race and when you try to be authoritarian and tell us what we can and cannot do, what we can and cannot believe, and who we can and cannot vote for, there is very likely to be a kick back. When you tell people that if they disagree with your policies they must be ‘Tories’ then you had been beware because one day they might believe your simplistic equation and decide that they are!
I find it sad that some people are furious about these articles because they perceive them as an attack on the SNP. I don’t care about the SNP or any political party. Each is only a means to an end. I long ago gave up trusting political parties. I vote for individuals because of their character, qualities and policies – I don’t care the party label. I will vote for anyone who makes social justice for all a priority and shows some realistic policies for dealing with the great inequalities in our society and for dealing with the Five Giants. I hope the SNP will turn back from the disastrous path they are headed and re-invent themselves as a party of all the Scottish people, not just the party of the AB EUphiles! I’ve had enough of Latte Nationalism! But when it comes to voting – I will vote for the candidate and the policies that reflect my own desire for social and economic justice – whatever the party.
Bertrand Russell once observed:
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”
I end this series by again repeating that I am not claiming some kind of divine authority for these views. They are my own and as such could be mistaken. I hae my doubts. Especially about myself.
But I would like to end on a spiritual note. I also have a great peace. Not because I have faith in a politician, political party or system, nor do I have faith in that great myth of modern times ‘ the inevitable goodness and progression of the human race’. But rather I believe in the God of justice, love and beauty. My faith in Jesus Christ does not give me my political views, but it does give me my hope. And I pray that the Lord will richly bless our beloved land of Scotland, that land once known as the land of the Book, so that we can be a blessing to others again – whatever our faith or politics.
PS. I’n done! (for now….)