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…



I read an interesting quote earlier by Tony Robbins, it went “People often overestimate how much they can get done in a year and underestimate what they can get done in ten” or words to that effect.

It struck a chord with me because I often feel frustrated, like I’m not getting anywhere, over my short term goals but when I look back over the longer term I’m often astonished as to how far I’ve come.

It all started for me nearly ten years ago now when my Dad was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. NHS England were really beginning to struggle at that point and they just could not seem to organise the proverbial in a brewery. We went down to visit for what became clear was going to be the last time we saw him properly.

It made me reassess my own life and what I saw wasn’t pretty. Compared to the dreams I had had when I left home at sixteen I had fulfilled very little of the potential I thought I had. My Dad’s situation hammered it home that life is short and you only get one chance to truly live.

I set myself concrete goals with a definite timescale and began at least striving for more again.

Ten years on and things haven’t really gone in the direction I wanted them to but I’ve sure achieved more in those ten years than I ever did in the twenty before that.

Impatience is a pretty natural human emotion, I struggle against it constantly. I think one of the real secrets to success in life is patience, the ability to accept your failures, focus on the incremental gains you have made, and to persist in striving to attain your goal.

Like Bruce’s famous spider fortune favours the tenacious..

It is one of the many bugs in the programming our brains have evolved over the eons. We just cannot view life on the timescales necessary to appreciate the progress we are making or how long it really takes to achieve anything worthwhile. Not naturally at any rate, we need to train our minds to overcome that blind spot and see beyond our immediate horizons.

Too often we do not know how close we are to victory and give up in disgust right on the cusp of achieving our desires.

That has all been on my mind this week as I have tried to absorb what happened in the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

I’ve looked through the judgement a bit now and I don’t think the details really tell us much, there’s a few areas of interest, but in general it is what isn’t said that seems more important to me. The Court goes out of its way not to address the issue of Popular Sovereignty, which is to some degree odd, because it is that very Popular Sovereignty that makes a potential Yes vote sufficiently problematic to qualify a Referendum as a reserved matter. If Westminster is Sovereign and doesn’t have to listen to Scottish voters, like it is doing now, then it doesn’t matter two figs how we vote in a Referendum. It matters how we vote because Scottish voters are Sovereign. The Court glosses over that because it is trying not to look at the de jure constitutional facts in an effort to preserve the status quo instead of doing their job.

If I’m honest I’m a bit disappointed in the Justices in that regard. I thought they took their role more seriously but I suppose, to paraphrase Noam Chomsky telling off Andrew Marr, if they were the sort of people that thought like that they wouldn’t be the sort of people to be handed that sort of job. Sad though.

Their reasoning does expose two things.

First they think that the Sovereignty of the Scottish People really is a problem if it is ever clearly expressed at the ballot box.

Second, they don’t view Scottish Parliamentary elections in the same light.

If they did they would not have been able to rule as they did, they would have considered the expressed will of the people of Scotland at the ballot box last year as too significant to ignore.

I think that is a warning we should heed.

The subtext there is that the Court considers Scottish Parliamentary elections to be a limited expression of political will and Sovereignty, limited by the Scotland Act and the powers granted to the Scottish Parliament by that act. A vote in a Holyrood election is a vote that they consider to pertain solely to devolved powers.

A legal, single issue, referendum is different. As is a General Election.

When we elect MPs to serve in Westminster we are casting a ballot for a representative that has the full spectrum of our Sovereign power devolved to them.

Any MP we elect to Westminster standing on a platform of seeking permission from the Sovereign People of Scotland to negotiate Scotland’s withdrawal from the Treaty of Union is directly empowered by the Sovereign Body in Scotland to do just that.

That leads me to a number of tentative conclusions.

Firstly it really ought to be our MPs that negotiate Independence after we win the next General Election. It must be a General Election, the ‘one simple trick’ of calling an early Holyrood poll is a trap that will cost us several years and a substantial amount of international support. To be credible that MP group must be properly representative of the wider Yes movement and needs to command the support of a majority of voters not simply a majority of seats. There is no route to a lasting independence that does not command majority support.

The Special Conference the SNP has called is the right thing to do. The SNP needs to be led by the will of its members, they must feel like they have made the important decisions for the party rather than having had them made for them. The party must be united to succeed.

As must the Yes movement, so I think that Special Conference would be well advised to call a Constitutional Convention and a subsequent Citizens’ Assembly to decide precisely how we should fight that de facto Referendum and who we choose to represent us as the most important negotiating team our nation will ever have. The SNP should have opinions as to how best to do that, decided by the Special Conference, but the final decisions must be reached by consensus. A consensus that the Yes movement and the wider electorate feel a sense of ownership over.

There needs to be an overall vision of the sort of Scotland we are seeking to build but it must not be prescriptive. Options only, with the decisions to be taken by the people after independence. There also needs to be a clear transition plan including an interim constitution.

And lastly I don’t think we can fight that campaign without the leader of the Scottish National Party being a candidate in that election.

The leader of our negotiating team and the parliamentary group in Westminster must be our party leader and the First Minister of Scotland.

The next Prime Minister of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland must find themselves face to face every day in their own house with the leader of another Sovereign Nation. A leader with the full force of Scottish Sovereignty behind them, a leader that will make it impossible to do anything else other than settle up. Westminster Hall just isn’t big enough to have the leaders of two nations crammed into it.

Just my personal opinions, and they may well evolve over the days to come, but for now they will be what I will be pushing for moving forward.