A wise move?

Once again, a Minister in the SNP administration offers us rousing rhetoric and encouraging noises but nothing of substance. Mike Russell assures us that independence is coming, but says not a word about how. He says a new referendum this year is “perfectly feasible”, but fails to explain how such a hope can be sustained in the face of the First Minister’s commitment to the Section 30 process.

He urges the people of Scotland to campaign and argue for a new referendum as if that wasn’t what most of us have been doing while he and his colleagues were preoccupied with Brexit. What he doesn’t tell us is how all this campaigning and arguing can have any effect on a British political elite which has not the smallest regard for democratic principles and only contempt for Scotland and its people.

Mike Russell proclaims his belief that “faced with the choice of Brexit Britain or an independent membership of the EU” the people of Scotland would choose the latter. But his belief can be no more than a faith position unless and until it is supported by a credible strategy for making it something more. We don’t need belief. We don’t need a faith position. We don’t need mere fine words. What we need is a practical plan to achieve a positive outcome. And we need Mike Russell or someone at least as senior in the Scottish Government to explain how the Section 30 process can be consistent with any credible strategy or practical plan to facilitate the exercise of Scotland’s right of self-determination.

I cannot imagine Mike Russell is unaware of the fact that the administration he serves in has taken the independence project down a blind alley. I do not suppose him to be totally oblivious to Scotland’s true predicament or the growing clamour for action to deal with that predicament. Where are the proposals for such action? Where are the ideas? Where is the sense of urgency?

Is there no-one close to the SNP leadership who is passing on the concerns of those who see the Section 30 process as the trap that it clearly is? Personally, I had hoped Mike Russell would fulfil this role. Perhaps he intends to do so. Perhaps that is why he has given notice of his intention to quit. Maybe he is setting himself up to challenge the First Minister on her stubborn commitment to a process which is wholly dependent on obtaining the willing and honest cooperation of the British government. Maybe he is getting ready to propose a change of approach to the constitutional issue ahead of the SNP’s postponed Spring Conference. Maybe he has decided he has nothing to lose and, by announcing his decision to stand down has neutralised any leverage the First Minister might have had.

Somehow, this doesn’t seem believable. It doesn’t sound much like Mike Russell. And surely if he was about to make some proposals for taking the independence projet forward then he would want to stick around to see it through.

It could, of course, be that Mr Russell has simply had enough and wants to retire. That would be understandable. But he is an astute politician. He must have known that the announcement of his decision to bring his parliamentary career to a close would spark speculation. His motives were always going to be the subject of much conjecture. Some might even suppose that he is anticipating the backlash as more and more people realise how bad the situation is and has decided to remove himself from the scene before the mob arrives armed with a battery of awkward questions. I can only commend the wisdom of such a choice.



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15 thoughts on “A wise move?

  1. Up until the last year or so Mike Russell had seemed to be one of our more combative ministers. Lately he has sadly spouted platitudes and uninspiring rhetoric. This may or may not be as a result of the malaise at the top of the Scottish government regarding the constitutional question, his portfolio. Either way he must know that he looks foolish and diminishes his credibility by constantly regurgitating these facile comments without any threat of back-up action.

    Time to go, if only for his own integrity’s sake.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I think there is something we are not being told, Duncanio. Has the FM been threatened surreptitiously? Has a veiled threat of invasion or economic ruin been hinted at if we our independence project hinders Brexit? Are there British State agents riddling the SNP and deliberately urging caution and prevarication? It cannot simply be that the SG is hell-bent on a course of action that is impossible to achieve, surely? Some reason must exist for doggedly sticking to this dead end route. Or what does that say about over 80 years of the SNP and the independence movement, of which it is a part now, but was once its very core?

      Have they really placed themselves in such an invidious position because the EU insists that :a) we must be independent to rejoin; b) we have to have a pre independence referendum? If that is the case, the EU are acting illegally. I think it might be more the case that this is how the SG has interpreted their demands – evidently without checking in any meaningful way that a pre independence referendum is supremely unnecessary in both domestic and international law. However, their actions have ensured that, at some point, a pre independence referendum will become law in the UK and that a huge majority will also become necessary, finishing off any chance of a peaceful resolution to Scottish aspirations. That the collaborators and lickspittles of the Scottish media and body politic will cheer from the sidelines is no exaggeration.

      It is the seeming total lack of any kind of research into the ways in which independence may be achieved that astounds me. Oh, no doubt all the ways are more or less equally difficult and onerous, but some will have the chance of a better outcome than others. The S30 route is a cul de sac, a brick wall, an impassable object, just as overturning Brexit was, another dogged diversion from reality. Can it be quite simply that the SNP fears it will lose its electoral advantage if we become independent? It will do so in any case if it keeps on prevaricating. Can it really be, as I believe it must, at least to a great extent, be the absolutely intransigent refusal to take any risk at all? If that is the case, then the SNP will implode and split, just as the Irish movement did and what emerges will be the SNP and a new, hard-nosed movement/party that will be very much harder to overcome.

      Two minorities – the Scottish Unionists and the rUK voters (the vast majority of them, at any rate) – have dominated Scottish politics in an era of unprecedented SNP success and at a time when independence was a plum ripe for the picking. That is your actual, real, undisputed Shakespearean tragedy – in the full sense of the word, not the silly, vapid meaning applied today – that means that its has been one’s own hubris which has brought one low; it has been self-administered. In the name of senseless, pointless, weak abasing ourselves before minorities with no mandate, no entitlement, no legal rights, because they banded together against international law, against the tenets of the UN Charter to which the UKG is a signatory, we threw away the game and have possibly ensured that England-as-the-UK, with its collaborators in Scotland, will deliver our excision from history.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. We should never completely discount incompetence. We are talking about human beings, after all. But the general competence of the Scottish Government tends to cast doubt on this explanation. Although we must allow that the constitutional issue is very much apart from the day-to-day business of government.

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      2. I must confess Lorna that I find the apparent hyper-risk aversion utterly baffling:

        1. There is a massive membership which increased 5 fold in a few short months after 18 September 2014.

        2. There seems to be a majority, albeit marginal, in favour of restoring Scotland’s nation-state status when only 28% were in favour 7-8 years ago. (Yes, I know it should be higher given what’s happened in the last 5 years and the opportunities presented).

        3. The pro-Democracy argument in favour of running our ow affairs is overwhelming and is easy to explain and base a campaign on.

        I have no doubt that the SNP will be infiltrated by spies of the realm, 5th columnists and agent provocateurs. After all, the perfidious British state has had over 3 centuries to perfect its dark arts, having honed them with their activities in attempting to obstruct and defeat the independence movements in (all) Ireland, America, India, Africa and Northern Ireland.

        On the other hand, the SNP must have its informants in Whitehall too – how else did Nicola Sturgeon get wind over 3 years ago of the ‘power grab’ being planned for powers returning from Brussels post-Brexit? So they are not short of their own inside information.

        There is a criminal trial coming up this month which might have something to do with the reticence, especially after the debacle in the equivalent civil case at the beginning of last year. Perhaps that’s got something to do with it.

        I do also find it a bit odd that so many of the current SNP MSPs are announcing, almost simultaneously, that they are standing down from Holyrood … 15 months out from the next Scottish parliamentary election.

        I am not a conspiracy theorist but I would hope that something is flushed out sooner rather than later otherwise we are in big trouble.

        In the meantime the on-going inaction remains a mystery.

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      3. @MBC, @Peter A Bell

        …”Or maybe they are just incompetent?”…

        Politicians have become very adept at using “incompetence” in one area to mask deliberate actions. It is akin to the “dead cat” strategy just taken to the next level.

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  2. @ Lorna Campbell on March 2, 2020 at 11:19
    Distressingly likely. People have said so often, for so long, that freedom / independence is not likely to be gratiously given – it must be taken. Probably taken at some cost. Is this SNP government afraid of that cost? Are they distrustful of Scots willingness to back them in a fight? Is so please someone say so.

    @ Peter A Bell on March 2, 2020 at 14:05
    Competence arises from virtually every analysis of how the SNP government has handled its tasks these past 13 or so years.

    My description involves ‘fundamental aims & objectives’. Westmnster seeks power plus wealth added to more and more power & wealth for an established elite. Hollyrood under the SNP seeks competence and efficiency in delivering for Scots better and better government. That difference has somehow not yet been grasped by sufficient Scots voters.

    But that may not be the same as SNP competence in willingness to mobilise and risk Scotland’s freedom to an all out loss at the hands of the current cyclical bunch at Westminster.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. apropos of nothing, if some names were to move on from the SNP and lend their credibility to a list party, which names might you want to see? The right sort of names might be needed in order for such a move to gain critical mass.

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  4. One thing not in doubt is that they are scared. What they are scared of, who knows. Catalonia? The Salmond trial? It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
    Mike’s talk in Morningside last week was a masterclass in rocking the cradle. He is an extremely engaging speaker. But the grass roots disquiet is growing by the day.

    We must pin our hopes on the Yes movement moving the polling numbers and moving the position of the SNP before it is too late.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The virtue of the Yes movement taking forward the cause is that it ensures the SNP government and Holyrood remains separate and distinct. And therefore not a target.

      You can’t catch a mist with a herring net.

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      1. @MBC on March 3, 2020 at 15:17

        “You can’t catch a mist with a herring net.”

        You’ve not visited The Canary Islands – I recall La Palma ? – where nets were deployed along the ridge top, yes, to catch mist. Or, El Hierro where strategically located trees had tarpaulins deployed hanging below to gather mist.

        So, just how does this help us catch soft-noes?

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    2. The “be quiet /don’t rock the boat” brigade has led YES to a point where it now looks like a captive of the SNP. It’s like reliving a re-run of Scottish labour – hows that removal of the House of Lords going?

      Given the SNP’s length of time in power, we have probably now reached that point where the political manipulators now join the SNP rather than labour. Beware of when Indy is relegated to just a nice manifesto filler to keep YES in line and voting.

      YES has some very difficult decisions ahead of it.

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