DIY mind laundering

I’ve seen a lot of this. People saying that at first they were disappointed by Nicola Sturgeons ‘Next Steps or Should That Be Running On The Spot speech’, but then they “got over it”. In most cases, I strongly suspect, they didn’t so much get over their disappointment as find a way to rationalise the let-down and get back to a comfortable position behind the boss.

The thing about such rationalisations is that they tend not to stand up to much scrutiny. And the very first thing that such scrutiny uncovers is the fact that none of the rationalisations deals with the fatal flaws in the First Minister’s whole approach to the constitutional issue. If you felt disappointment after listening to the speech that was your intuition telling you there’s something not quite right about all of this. You should heed your intuition.

In order to drown out the screech of his bullshit detector, Paul Kavanagh has had to convince himself that Boris Johnson can be forced into providing Nicola Sturgeon with the British government cooperation on which her ‘plan’ critically depends. He has had to persuade himself that this coerced cooperation will be no less genuine and complete for being grudged. And he’s had to embrace the notion that what will oblige Boris Johnson to facilitate a process whose likely outcome is anathema to him is to make it seem more likely that this outcome will be realised.

That a lot of DIY brainwashing.

But Paul is right about one thing. Boris Johnson’s political freedom of movement is “very limited”. The constraints, however, are not on his capacity to refuse the cooperation the First Minister hopes for, relies on and inexplicably expects, but on his freedom to provide that cooperation. There are powers behind the British Prime Minister’s throne. And those powers are ruthlessly determined that the Union shall be preserved and, moreover, that threats to the Union shall be eliminated.

The hard truth of the matter is that granting a Section 30 order free of caveats and conditions that would allow the process to be scuppered at a later stage will ALWAYS be politically more costly than continuing to say no. Partly because that cost will be the Prime Minister’s job but mostly because saying no carries no cost at all.

I wonder if Paul Kavanagh suffered a moment of discomfort when/if he noticed the glaring contradiction which, together with dizzying inconsistency, is an identifying characteristic of the desperate rationalisation. In his final paragraph, he states that “the only way [Boris Johnson] can make Scotland surrender to his bullying is by offering Scotland concessions that his own party won’t allow”. In order to justify agreeing with Nicola Sturgeon’s counsel of inaction and procrastination, he has simultaneously to believe that Boris Johnson won’t be allowed to offer relatively minor concessions and that he will be allowed to offer the biggest and most objectionable concession of all.

Such doublethink betokens a brain not merely washed but thoroughly laundered after steeping overnight.



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22 thoughts on “DIY mind laundering

  1. Reluctantly, I have to agree with your assessment. Paul’s blog entries are usually on the ball but he’s lost it with this one.

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  2. I cancelled my SNP membership. It’s pending a change in tactic or a change in leader. I will happily rejoin if I see the SNP are serious about delivering indy ref 2. If they continue as is. Then they will not be collecting a fee off me.

    Like Paul I find my self softening. Especially when I see the polls. However this is cognitive dissonance. It’s what happens when you want to really believe something is right , when the facts tell you something different.

    It’s a sense of loyalty to the SNP.

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  3. Why don’t you, Paul Kavanagh, Stuart Campbell & Craig Murray join forces and create your own assembly for the YES movement? Bring in other prominent people you all may know to help focus the movement on ways of making the First Minister and the Scottish government pay attention to the real concerns the movement has and to take us forward.

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  4. The FM seems exempt from criticism from some sections of the Yes movement. Has she become too comfortable in her position?

    The statement was weak and told us nothing other than we might get a chance of another referendum some time probably in 2022. This is completely unacceptable considering the mandate was delivered by both the EU referendum and the General Election. I still back the SNP but we really need to go for the Jugular and we sorely miss the steely determination and leadership of Salmond. I refuse to have blind faith in this instance that the FM will deliver on this as I see nothing from past examples which proves she can hold Westminster and the Crown to account. They should both be facing up to a court challenge at this stage.
    She is a likable character who has done much for Scotland but in times of extremes sometimes you need a leader less compromising.

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  5. What I resented more was the hype about her speech, as if it was meant to be something significant, some deal clincher master strategy or some rallying the troops to greater resistance. But it seemed aimed at reassuring the media that she wasn’t going to anything dangerous. But would remain measured and civic.

    I wonder what process was going through her mind these last three years. I can only think that she thought that Brexit would shift the polls significantly and that ordinary Scots voters would be as animated by Brexit and fixated by the thought of leaving the EU as she evidently was. Even the Tories clocked that her focus on the EU was daft and not hitting the spot with the voters.

    I think she genuinely thought that by December 2019 support for independence would have soared all by itself, just based on abhorrence at Brexit and was not prepared for the fact that despite voting 62% for Remain, Scots were not that passionate about the EU. So she put off and put off the Section 30 request hoping against hope that support for independence would rise dramatically and was boxed into a corner when it didn’t.

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    1. I am not sure about some of that.
      It does seem the First Minister did expect a lot more folks to demand Independence because of the EU crisis, but the bit that Scots were so passionate….
      The fact that they kept voting for SN at major elections, over and over, seems to say otherwise.
      They voted for SNP because,they were the ones they hoped would stop Brexit, and also get Independence.The really was no one else for them to vote for, especially at the last General Election.
      And as has been mentioned about this particular speech, many hints wee being given out, that something of real worth was about to be announced.
      Even as recently as last month, at a rally in Glasgow, George Square, was this pretense being made. Hope was still being put before voters.
      As it turned out, there was nothing but hopelessness after that speech on Friday for many, many ppl.
      It is clear, they will now have to look for a new party of Independence, and what will be a bit frustrating, is that such a new grouping will have to take a it of time to get set up. This country does not have time, any more.
      But a new group, must come forward.For waiting, and relying on SNP to get Independence, is now a waste of time.

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    2. “I think she genuinely thought that by December 2019 support for independence would have soared all by itself, just based on abhorrence at Brexit and was not prepared for the fact that despite voting 62% for Remain, Scots were not that passionate about the EU”

      Which is not too surprising given that they’re distinct issues, and that there was 38% against staying in the EU.

      So really, rather than conflate the two, and promising Independence implies applying to join the EU, instead offer a post Independence referendum on joining the EU. Probably with a policy to apply for EFTA + EEA in the interim such that we can have the flexibility to have trading arrangements tailored to Scotland in the meantime. Or possibly a choice of EFTA/EEA or EU.

      Each EFTA member (Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein) in the EEA has a distinct tailored set of clauses, no two have exactly the same agreement. So taking that approach would allow for greater flexibility until such time as the Scottish Economy is no longer to dependent upon trade with England. Also from there we could agree our own tailored trade arrangement with rUK until it suits us to end it, and without running against EU defensive interests.

      It would also allow us to stay out of Schengen while enjoying FoM, the only other possibility I see there (if in the EU) is to request an indefinite derogation – something like we can hold off joining Schengen until some time after Ireland joins it.

      Do that and one may well find that Scots eurosceptics would be more willing to embrace Independence.

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      1. Though she did keep saying that she wanted to stay in the single market and customs union. She could just have stuck to that, as you say. It would have had the widest domestic appeal. Perhaps by nailing her colours to the EU mast she hoped for some eventual assistance from Europe?

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      2. As to a CU – if one is in the SM, a CU is a red herring.

        Note – ‘a CU’, not ‘the CU’. Since ‘the CU’ is the core part of the Treaty of Rome, which only EU members are a party to.

        All of the useful effects of a CU can be achieved by simply unilaterally aligning our external tariffs with those of the EU, as the EEA agreement removes all SM internal tariffs and quantitative restrictions.

        The often raised “rules of origin” are not something performed at the border, but a post movement paperwork audit exercise.

        The other thing which can be a significant hindrance at the border is VAT, and a CU does nothing for that, whereas a distinct VAT agreement would – either standalone, or as a country specific protocol in the EEA agreement.

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  6. Peter I apologise before my comment , Paul Martin has put forward a very eminent suggestion which many people I would think would agree with , indeed your response indicates that you tentatively agree with the suggestion , now the parts for my apology , you then follow that with the disclaimer that you are not putting your name forward , my opinion is why the hell not

    I have read many of your posts which you opined that the YES movement doesn’t need a leader or a figurehead I agree with that opinion , but what WE REALLY REALLY need is a strong collection of well known and respected independence bloggers and vloggers to form a group to liase authoritively with the SNP , and I do mean authoritively , because in my opinion the SNP are governing adequately but are failing in promoting , driving and encouraging the forces of independence , the SNP SG can get on with the job of governance whilst the Indy Scot group collectively can expose the lies , disinformation and outright deliberate bias shown by the broadcasters and MSM

    I am very supportive of another indy political party being formed , we DESPERATELY need to overcome and defeat the threat to independence posed by the yoonionist cabal at Holyrood , even if that means that they only stand candidates for the list seats , plus it would ensure the SNP’s feet are held to the fire and we could maybe get rid of some of the deadwood

    The point I’m trying to make is that we DESPERATELY need someone to fire the starting pistol and gather these individuals and if not you WHO ??? you are famous (or is that infamous ) within indy , you are well kent and respected , you won’t be bullied , you won’t listen to urine or bovine excrement , we need this and we don’t have time to lose

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    1. “the SNP are governing adequately but are failing in promoting, driving and encouraging the forces of independence”

      That’s the nub of the problem right there. What I think we’re agreed on is that some other body, drawn from the Yes movement, must take up the baton on the “promoting” part. The value of these exchanges is that they provoke thinking. And it now occurs to me that there is another problem that will have to be addressed. To put it simply, we are assuming that the SNP and the Yes movement will work closely together. But the kind of campaign that the Yes movement needs to “promote” is such as the SNP – both as an administrator and as a party – will not want to be associated with.

      If I am correct about this, then the new Yes campaign will have to be more separate from the SNP than I first thought. While I know that many in the Yes movement will regard this as a good thing, many others – maybe just as many – will not like it.

      This needs more thought.

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  7. I have come to the conclusion that the FM cannot be the leader of an independence movement because in a devolved administration there are real restrictions and obligations placed on the office of FM. We don’t want to invite a Puigedemont situation.
    If support for independence was far higher than 50% then certainly the FM could claim a legitimate right to boldly lead an independence campaign. But as things stand, the FM has to be FM for both camps and currently lacks the overall legitimacy to pursue independence outright as many in the indy camp would like. (As opposed to consultation on independence which is certainly legitimate in the context of changed circumstances). I think the current FM has little room for manoeuvre in the context of only 50% support for independence and in the context of a devolved administration. And that in large part accounts for her caution. Freed from being FM I think she would be bolder. The office of FM is really just a management job and rather binding.

    The current FM actually holds 3 roles and I think in sum they are incompatible.

    1. The office of FM in a devolved SNP administration.
    2. The leader of the SNP as a political party.
    3. The putative leader of an independence campaign.

    Now I could see that 1 and 2 could be compatible, and that 2 and 3 could be compatible, but for reasons just stated, 1 + 2 + 3 are incompatible.

    There needs to be a separate leader of the independence campaign, one that can’t be got at or constrained. As a movement, it makes perfect sense not to have all your eggs in one basket. Otherwise you are the perfect target. If Nicola wants to be the leader of an independence campaign she should resign as FM and hand over to her deputy and pursue independence, not via the Scottish Government, but via the SNP as a vehicle for independence or else the Yes movement. But since time is short and the SNP is already well set up and financed that might be the more suitable vehicle.

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    1. You make a very good point. I had always been mindful of the constraints of her office as First Minister. But maybe not mindful enough. I still say, however, that she will have to act outwith those constraints at some point. Because being independent means not having those constraints. And Westminster is not going to remove them. Westminster will ultimately have to accept that they have been removed.

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      1. I know. Agreed. But she needs to have legitimacy first before she can justify stepping out of line and confront the UK directly. And she can’t act boldly to achieve legitimacy as FM by leading an independence movement when 50% oppose it. That’s my point. Somebody else needs to be leading that movement. Somebody who is not in any public office that they could be removed from. Support for independence would have to have reached significant majority levels and have been so consistently for some time before the FM would have the legitimacy to act so boldly. I am not going to attempt to define ‘significant majority levels’ quantitively.

        In Catalonia Puigedemont was jumping the gun. At least half the population did not support Catalonian independence and when he attempted to declare it, the Spanish government acted to arrest him and his colleagues. If the FM tried to do something similar on current levels of support it would invite strong counter measures to remove her too or otherwise neutralise her and the SNP. Although I don’t envisage these measures being as strong as imprisonment and trial for treason, there are lots of other excuses and sneaky means the UK could use. Look at Salmond. I’m not going to speculate on how that has come about, there are some worrying theories being circulated, but comparing himself to Parnell was just giving them ideas, wasn’t it? And EVEL, well that was just the start of a certain line of thinking wasn’t it?

        I like the Viking Laws. One of them advises, ‘Use varying methods of attack’. Another, ‘Always use top quality weapons’. Certainly, the one that also says, ‘Choose one chief’ is sound, but in playing the field it pays to have your troops working as a team in different locations, one the goalie, others attackers or defenders all using varying methods of attack to confuse and confound the enemy.

        It’s come to dawn on me that the leader of the independence movement ought to be a strong, canny, bold figure who commands wide respect but is acting freely outside any arena in which the UK government has any purchase. As FM Nicola Sturgeon is a prisoner of the UK and you have said yourself we should fight on our own ground and on our own terms.

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  8. I don’t accept this stuff, that the First Minister has to ever so careful, and cannot be placed in the Catalan situation.
    The whole point of voting in SNP in such large numbers, and in making them the Government in Scotland, was to help further the cause of Independence, and be the leading players in that movement. Otherwise what’s the point of having them it all?
    We don’t need to wait for 50 percent to make Independence happen.
    But without a proper campaign, without a proper and positive push for it, you’re not likely to get that 50 percent, either.
    The First Minister can’t have it both ways. She can’t expect the votes and support of the Independence movement, and at same time, sort of hold back from it, because she doesn’t feel she is able to go the full way, for whatever reason.
    And as many have asked since Friday, why give the very real impression, there is a plan in the pipeline, only to see there was nothing there all the time?
    There can be no good excuse to mislead folks in that manner. For that is what has happened here.
    Those like,Stuart Campbell at Wings, and Peter A.Bell, here, were constantly berated, and slapped down by the senior SNP figures, anytime such things were pointed out, and yet, they were correct in their understanding, and their predictions of how it would turnout.
    We had a right to expected better from SNP and the First Minster.
    And as I have said enough, if they don’t feel they can take is to Independence, we will turn to those who can..
    And those who do take us there, will not be asking for “permission” from London!

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  9. Power devolved is power retained. The SNP think they have captured the citadel but it has captured them. Devolution is a trap that binds those within it. Freedom is not something somebody else gives you but what you take for yourself.

    The independence movement needs to have a strong leader who is not in any way beholden to the UK. Once support for independence reaches a clear majority it may be possible for those within the citadel to act boldly.

    I have always thought that extra-parliamentary pressure and means are the way forward.

    I agree with Craig Murray that a Constitutional Convention as suggested by the FM drawing together all elements could be a vehicle for this.

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  10. Salmond was able to combine the roles of FM and leader of the SNP and independence movement quite skilfully. But that was in a different era, when the fight consisted of sound bites and rhetoric, playing the media and outwitting opponents who were in a weak position. The fight has moved to much harder ground now and our opponents are far stronger. I can’t see that the fight can be fought from within the citadel (of Holyrood) but must be fought from outside. The leader of the independence movement can no longer be the FM.

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      1. Yes but his prediction that the campaign would prove cathartic was spot on. We now have a movement. And that movement is not going away. Whatever else may be said it is proving resilient in the face of the odds against it. His successor has failed to lead that movement or harness its potential. Why did she cling to the Section 30 route? I guess initially she was trying to reach out to the 55% and wrongly gamed that the tide would turn decisively in our favour after Brexit without needing to do any campaigning. Then’s she’s found herself boxed into a corner when it didn’t.

        We are now in a very different situation and in much harder territory. If Brexit was the folly of the English it is only matched by the folly of the Scots in not seizing the moment they had for 15 hours in 2014.

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