The truth can hurt but it also sets us free!

Thanks to Chris Hanlon for his contribution, Patience. He makes some salient points on progress and quotes the American motivational speaker Tony Robbins as inspiration for his thoughts on where we are now in Scotland.

“People often overestimate how much they can get done in a year and underestimate what they can get done in ten…”

On ViveEcosse we like to tease out the threads of arguments to ensure we have considered all the factors so in that vein, this is my reply to Chris.

Patience is indeed a virtue

…but before we assume we’re ‘on the right track this time’ and settle back to be ‘patient’ as we await the outcome, we have to ask ourselves, “are we sure what we’re waiting for will actually work?”

The Secret to Success

Tony Robbins also says of the secret to success:

“The ultimate formula for how to be successful consists of several key principles: know your desired outcome, know what inspires you, take massive action, notice your results and adapt your approach.”

Success scores on the doors?

Can I honestly say that anything I’ve personally witnessed from SNP NEC or from outside, from the SNP leadership in the past 8 years, coupled with the bizarre reaction of the FM post Supreme Court announcement of the decision on Wednesday, demonstrates ANY of these principles in ANY way?

Whether the will is (or was ever) there or not, is certainly debatable but as an analyst I just can’t ignore the glaring evidence that it genuinely looks like they don’t know HOW to deliver independence.

Party Hats off

I think Chris and others who have invested greatly in the belief that their team has all the answers will see the path clearer when they stop viewing independence with a SNP ‘stronger for Scotland 🧢’ obscuring their vision (other party hats also apply).

SNP ‘special conference’ announced for January 2023 is a clear delaying tactic. Given only the UK Tory Government have the date of the next General Election in their gift, delaying is, at best, a naive option for a party with so many promises to deliver on and now under the glare of a spotlight they’ve so far not experienced.

Transparency, democracy and really listening or procrastination then reactive panic?

Urgently embracing transparency is Scot Gov’s best option but it’s not been their Modus Operandi thus far.

We already know that SNP don’t listen to members at conference, whether with their ethereal complains processes or otherwise. They’ve critically just had a face-to-face conference (days before Supreme Court case was heard) where they talked about lots of things but fastidiously avoided what they now need a ‘special conference’ for.

It reminds me of how shiny my bathtub suddenly was when my MSc thesis deadline loomed….

Why was the SNP Annual conference, after FM announced a referendum date for 19th Oct 2023, not focussed on independence and her plan for the Supreme Court reference’s potential outcomes presented, along with all the details of the contingency ‘plebiscite’?

Please don’t tell me, “it’s a secret plan that we can’t let the unionists get wind of…’ I humbly submit that all avenues and potential (or at least the likely) outcomes should have been teased out democratically in advance of the Supreme Court decision *if* her plan had any consideration for the management of risk, it’s mitigation and contingency planning. You can bet your life the British Establishment have gamed all scenarios so let’s get serious.

They either knew and did no contingency planning or were caught unaware – neither is good enough!

If the Supreme Court outcome was indeed anticipated (as it was by those with even a passing interest) then why are Scot Gov not pivoting straight to their considered contingency planned next steps?

If, as we’ve evidenced in the immediate aftermath, all next steps start and end at the SNP party then there is indeed a power vacuum in Scotland for independence.

You just can’t coherently make the argument that you’ve been elected to run the Scottish Government while at the same time claiming independence is an SNP Party matter.

Next steps if they are serious about independence

Regardless of outcomes of the Supreme Court decisions, the next substantive steps were evidently, largely the same, as discussed in Decisions, decisions but then what.

I’d have advised (as others have) of demonstrating proactive planning, and control of the situation by pre-emptively calling a Constitutional Convention (regardless of SC Ruling) and delivering the again promised Citizens Assemble, to engage the public, tease out opinion and identify pinch points before shaping arguments to take to wider electorate.

If they didn’t anticipate the outcome and gambled all on a win, then the current FM has shown she isn’t ‘safe’ but reckless.

The previous FM, Alex Salmond is known as a gambler but at least gamblers consider the odds and scrutinise best outcomes before determining their position. In politics you must ultimately leave the result to electoral fate but only once you’re done your best to stack the odds in your favour.

If they don’t know HOW tell us now and get help!

I refer back to my previous conclusion that the current party machine operatives just don’t know HOW to win this. The party machine absolutely know how to win success for SNP at elections, many have witnessed their well oiled electoral machine.

We mustn’t ignore that the machine has been operating for 8 years on a smooth surface and fuelled by 50% of the electorate’s independence desire, so it’s a false definition of SNP party success.

If this indy fuel is removed or more attractive vehicles turn up at ‘the pumps’ they are then left to make a real case and real arguments on competence etc., then their dominance is not so assured.

This may explain the effort that’s gone onto ‘discrediting other vehicles and their drivers’.

If they have to fuel a nation’s voters, to seek independence without having established the skills of actual convincing then they are in real trouble. 8 years of ‘yellow rosettes’ off the back of ‘Indy mandate’ has made them forget how to really fight for a win.

(Cough) Scottish Labour circa 2015…

Are they doing it deliberatly?

Then there’s the opposition, or lack there of, which has given a false sense of SNP dominance. 

Has a largely weakening opposition at Holyrood been part of the British Establishment game plan? Well it’s what I’d do if I was on that side of the chessboard.

The best way to weaken your opposition is to lower the bar across the board, lull them into a false sense of security where they become complacent in power and lose the skill and practice to fight for success.

SNP have systematically replaced pesky critical thinkers with party nodders, which weakens their ability to react when the opposition inevitably attacks on a different flank.

Why the brain drain from politics?

Given the abundance of talent in Scotland I don’t think anyone can argue the case that we now have the cream of Scotland’s talent in elected office, at any level!

We laughed in incredulity when Michael Gove said in 2016 Brexit campaign that “people were fed up with experts”. Sadly it looks like SNP wrote this down as an instruction! 

Raise the talent bar, it’s urgent!

If our communities, Scotland and the world ever needed expert decision makers in positions of power, it’s now!

It would be inaccurate to say we don’t have some great people in elected roles and we have the electorate to thank for that, as being a critical thinker does not easily navigate you through the internal party vetting control gate!

Those experts we do have in elected roles, Joanna Cherry KC is the most evident, largely only remain in politics through personal and professional determination to see through the job they started and from the support, value and respect of local members and constituents.

Ronaldo cutting half time oranges while the boot boy takes the penalty?

A casual observer would expect to see the SNP’s eminent KC /MP leading leading the judicial case for her party but that’s hard to do from the back benches. Her acknowledged talent has however been snapped up by U.K. Parliament in her esteemed appointment as Chair of Joint Committee on Human Rights.

What does this say about how important the SNP now see tangible skills, expertise, talent and record of deliver, as desirable qualities for their candidates? What does their complaints process debacle say about how you’ll be treated if you do become a candidate?

The SNP leadership even failed to support Joanna Cherry KC through criminal threats from their own party member (at time of offence). The experience of her treatment at the NEC meeting that came just after the criminal threats will live with me…

Dual rules on dual mandates

It’s fairly widely known that the weird ‘dual mandate’ fleeting obsession of SNP NEC to build walls and not bridges for their own MPs becoming MSPs in 2021, precluded Joanna Cherry and others from being candidates for the 2021 Scottish Parliament. Joanna Cherry had previously expressed a desire to stand for election at Holyrood and it was rumoured others were also keen on bringing their political experience back to Scotland for final push to independence.

As an MP, who had increased her majority Joanna Cherry was a popular choice with her local constituency party members yet she suddenly faced a difficult decision after an odd ruling, not from her party conference but from the party’s NEC, who only have authority between conferences to act on behalf of members. Why had this not been brought to conference previously if it was so important. dual mandates had never been a problem at other elections.

Given SNP were telling the electorate they were taking the democratic fight for Scotland’s constitutional future, you would have thought any new emergency rule on candidate selection would be to increase choice and the raise calibre of candidate selections to appeal most to constituents. Strangely it did the opposite, by deigning that a sitting SNP MP must resign their seat over a month before the opportunity to secure an SNP MSP seat!

Now from any angle, that’s just bonkers! From a party strategy viewpoint it is creating your own voluntary roulette but more important are the impacts for constituents of potentially being left without an MP and support team during the uncertainty of a global pandemic. The prospect of risking your staff team job security at such a time would also be at huge consideration!

I raised a question at SNP NEC in 2021 on behalf of Mid Scotland and Fife delegates, who wondered whether this ‘dual mandate’ rule also applied to sitting councillors, with so of them many standing for the Holyrood elections, many of them on NEC. If I recall correctly, someone was to get back to me…

NEC musical chairs– when the ‘music’ stops you lose your seat!

Less widely known, even within SNP as my own branch exec at the time asked me for evidence when I raised it, is the SNP’s 2019 NEC seeking and voting, by over 50%, to deselect Joanna Cherry from sitting as an SNP MP candidate in GE19.

When I looked into the timings of this, Joanna Cherry, was on the NEC herself at the time but was occupied personally beating the UK Gov in the Supreme Court while this ‘deselection’ vote was happening at her party’s NEC without her in attendance!

That the SNP subsequently took her Prorogation win in the Supreme Court as their own victory truly is irony overload 🤯

Trust the Voters

Joanna Cherry wasn’t deselected in 2019 but it’s sadly not down to rational thinking by the majority of her party’s NEC but by the fact those who sought to deselect her didn’t understand their own standing orders on deselection! They didn’t get the 2/3 vote needed as assumed only a simple 1/2 majority was needed. Joanna Cherry went on to retain her MP seat in 2019 with a 12% increase in vote share from 2017.

Credibility Rules!

I’m not a fan of personality politics, it has caused much of the distraction that has stopped the independence movement from actually moving but do any independence supporters really think the SNP is ‘stronger for Scotland’ without Joanna Cherry KC on their team?

We need credibility that we can deliver and integrity that we will, to gain the trust of the people of Scotland to achieve independence and then to crucially negotiate our best enablers for success when we do.

Joanna Cherry KC is literally the only SNP team player who has EVER ‘scored’ against U.K. Gov yet SNP have their top competent striker as far off the pitch as they can, without actually removing her from the team altogether or hard tackling her off the pitch.

We are left to watch slack-jawed as those on SNP ‘A team’ /front bench trip over their own feet while postulating on what they’d do if only the opposition would give them the ball! 

Newsflash, it’s their job to strategise a winning game plan and deliver Scotland’s victory, not to act as pundits on events!

Good News!

The very good news from Wednesday is that the Supreme Court have shown us a way forward! By showing the facts of the law and the opinion of the justices we now know what can create the impact of overcoming the Sovereignty of the UK parliament, who currently hold the keys that are stopping the people of Scotland asking the ‘banned binary question’ in its ‘gold standard’ established democratic mechanism of a referendum.

There is MUCH work to do here so distractions really won’t help…

Not Good News…

However, this good news is clouded by the FM making her own tone deaf  ‘David Cameron 19th Sep 2014, EVEL’ moment, by making the announcement to Scotland from an SNP podium!

The judgement from the UK Supreme Court on the Scot Gov’s own Lord Advocate’s reference, made on our behalf, should have been presented to Scotland as our FM, not under party colours as the SNP leader.

The Lord Advocate won the case that her reference should be taken and Lord Reed also delivered the court’s judgement that the case had been made that the act of holding an advisory referendum was indeed legal, it was the political impact where the case fell. It is this that shows us the way through and it is, as we always knew, a political path.

Given it was the SNP’s own case where victory slipped and opinion on ‘colonisation’ was given in response to the question they asked on their submission to the Supreme Court, again begs the question of “why ask it?” To then pontificate in the hyperbole the FM used on a wheel-out the SNP ‘Stronger for Scotland’ podium was unfathomable, except perhaps in irony?

Nothing if not predictable

FM’s first reaction, in announcing what our next steps are have been determined by something that she personally has the best chance of controlling: a reactionary SNP conference, attended by a paying subset of her own party members.

‘Our future’ is doing some heavy lifting there, given you have to pay £ to be a member of SNP to even get through gate 1 of having any chance to have any say as to the next steps in the plan for Scotland…

This shows with clarity that having someone who doesn’t drive, with no road awareness of others, probably isn’t the wisest personal to have in the driving seat of Scotland’s independence.

It was all there if we’d only looked…

Robin McAlpine looks back this week at what he, as someone who’s dedicated the last 10 years to creating a tangible case and vision for a better Scotland (which he and others conclude can only be delivered through the empowerment of self determination) has observed, on the actions of those who have been politically empowered to deliver it.

The truth might hurt at times but ultimately it’s what sets us free…

4 thoughts on “The truth can hurt but it also sets us free!”

  1. Wow! Great article and collates a list of what the “party of independence” got spectacularly wrong, chief of which would be their response to what the SC ruling was likely to be.
    It beggars belief that various scenarios were not discussed by snp/Scot Gov. in the run up to the judgement being announced.
    All the” watched pot ” cooking analogy has worn so thin, it’s practically threadbare – Hold! Hold!
    Gies a break!
    We’ve held for these past eight years and the momentum has ground to a halt!
    The special conference is yet another delaying tactic from a party that no longer does democracy as you rightly point out.
    The problem seems to be that the Scottish public have been led to believe and almost fully accept that the snp must be the party to lead us to independence. What to do if that party don’t know how to get us out of the bottle neck they’ve led us into?
    They’ve had long enough and the deadlock remains exactly that.
    The longer it goes on without any real progress just wears the support down and the reasons for being an activist becomes a little more blurred and hopeless….

  2. I think perhaps I did not explain the nuance of the position I was taking on patience adequately.

    What I was trying to say is that it is a cognitive failing of the human mind to not be able to view the world over a long enough time scale.

    What seems to the casual observer as a complete lack of action and progress is often action and progress that is ever so slightly below the threshold of perception.

    That leads to frustration, disappointment, and inevitably to giving up on a particular approach before it has the chance to bear fruit.

    Often you cannot tell that a glacier is moving but I would not recommend building a house right in front of it.

    (Not a brilliant analogy these days….)

    This combines with another point that I think is often misunderstood.

    All the progress we have made over the last 20 years has been down to the SNP deciding that they should become a party of good governance and thus win power and the confidence of the Scottish people in their eventual goal of independence by demonstrating that they are a safe pair of hands.

    That seems to have worked like gang busters from a long term perspective but has transformed a radical organisation into a fundamentally small ‘c’ conservative one. Because that’s what the electorate vote for.

    Putting aside that SNP governance is far from perfect, indeed leaves quite a lot to be desired in several areas, it is demonstrably so much better than what is on offer from the clowns in the opposition parties that they have been in power with no indication of public support dropping for 15 years now.

    And whilst party policy is far from what we might term radically progressive, certainly compared to Common Weal proposals, the manifestos that command that level of support from the Scottish electorate have become substantially more radical over time.

    Compare for example the ‘dear god don’t mention indy’ attitude of 2015 to the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary platform where a new referendum was job one.

    We are a bit like the boiling frog in reverse, things are getting better but so slowly that we don’t notice.

    And that fundamentally is the job of a party of good governance. Not to be out in front of public opinion but to be surfing on the wave of it.

    To some extent that is problematic in that you have very limited scope to influence public opinion, to drag people in the direction you want to go. Which is where I have been saying for several years now there is space in Scottish politics for another pro-indy party that could be more active in moving the Overton Window in the right direction. I thought that party might be AFI or Alba for a brief moment but AFI ceded the field to Alba and they fumbled the ball on a number of fronts.

    That space still exists but I think all of the current players have blown it for a generation. Someone new will need to step into that space if it is to be filled.

    It doesn’t have to be but I think it would be a help given the tremendous challenges that face us as a nation and a species.

    Anyway, what I was trying to say is that what many write-off as a lack of action and progress is just action and progress that is moving so glacially that they aren’t properly aware of it.

    And also that sometimes that’s as fast as progress gets.

    I maintain that voters are like custard. You can push them about and mold them into any shape you want but only so fast. Push too hard and they will push right back, in a very painful and unyielding manner.

    That’s not always true, sometimes radical shifts happen overnight, although possibly more like fault lines where pressure has been building up for a while that suddenly give way, but it does happen.

    It’s just not how it happens most of the time.

    Softly, softly catchee monkee…

    1. Like any science, we must (hopefully) base political science on evidence though Chris. You can’t possibly conflate the autocratic control of SNP leadership of last 8 years with good governance (in its truest or indeed any sense).

      We can’t take the electorate for fools or underestimate them either. They are increasingly being served up a Hobson’s Choice at each election as the quality bar is plummeting in both Scottish and even more rapidly in U.K. politics!

      You may consider this a ‘Common Weal radical’ view but how about we just start listening to the electorate and stop dishing them up bland slops!

      Explored further in a previous piece:

  3. Aye Chis, I doubt this “casual observer” wasn’t that sufficiently “nuanced” enough to appreciate the snails paced progress – now that’s debatable as well but we can save that for another day, that your party has made.
    Demonstrate good government?
    You’ve got to be kidding, they cannot even get two ferry boats right, each time another instance of jaw dropping incompetence & possible corruption comes into the public domain, it’s presents our opponents with yet another reason not to trust snp/Scot Gov with our country’s future.
    That may be hard but it’s true, each and every failure adds up to another lost vote, if and when the time every comes under that snp “glacier”.
    It’s simply not good enough to say look at the alternative, Westminster failure v Holyrood failure.
    Wrap at turd in tartan, it’s still a turd.

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