The National and social media being replete with prematurely triumphalist tales of how the Union is on the verge of crumbling in a terminal spasm of panic not on account of any action taken by the Scottish Government, but because of “soaring” support for independence and the serial incompetence of the current British regime, Andrew Learmonth’s exclusive in today’s National provides a timely reminder that the British state is a beast that is never more dangerous than when it is cornered. The surge in financial support for British Nationalist organisation Scotland in Union is just a small indication of how those with a vested interest in keeping Scotland bound in the Union will respond if the campaign to restore Scotland’s independence looks like gaining ground.
Reports of the British state’s imminent and strangely spontaneous demise are, of course, greatly exaggerated. They serve only to convince the credulous that the SNP’s strategy of doing absolutely nothing for six years is working. That the party’s approach to the constitutional issue is actually a cunning ploy. That it’s not the catalogue of missed opportunities we’ve witnessed since 2014 but a crafty waiting game. That the inaction isn’t to be explained by timorous inertia but by covert scheming only ever referred to using quotes from Sun Tzu or a mish-mash of metaphors drawing on allusions to sport or chess or poker or whatever. Apparently, we should not be deceived by the fact that Nicola Sturgeon not only isn’t doing anything on the constitutional front but has stated with some pride that she has no intention of doing anything. Ostensibly, this is her playing a long game; waiting to see the whites of their eyes; keeping her cards close to her chest and not interrupting her opponents when they are making mistakes.
Seemingly, the daily Covid-19 briefings are the latest and most powerful weapon being deployed for Scotland’s cause. Just a few more of those impressive presentations and the polls will “soar” to 55% or 56% or – whisper it! – maybe even 57% and then… what? That’s the bit we’re not allowed to know. We cannot be told how Nicola Sturgeon proposes to take the seven loaves of her approval ratings and the two fishes of Boris Johnson’s unpopularity and produce a democratic feast for the multitude of Scotland’s people. We must simply have faith. We must believe! The less evidence there is of a viable process by which popular support for independence can be turned into a democratic vote for independence, the stronger must be our belief. If it turns out that Nicola Sturgeon has no such process, it will be the fault of those who did not have enough faith and most definitely not because our political leaders are paralysed by a powerful disinclination to engage in the kind of hard, aggressive politics which Scotland’s predicament demands.
If you think I’m being overly cynical – or shockingly heretical – heed the wise observation made by author and poet Charles Bukowski.
The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.
The British state is not hampered in its actions by any reluctance to fight dirty. The British political elite will do anything to preserve the Union and the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. Blood and soil British Nationalists recognise no ethical or moral constraints as they pursue their ideological goal of a new ‘One Nation’ in which the periphery and annexed territories are subsumed into a ‘Great Britain’ that is truly ‘Great’ because it is purely British.
The British state is not about to simply roll over. The British political elite has massive forces at its disposal and an almost literally inexhaustible supply of cash. British Nationalists are not going to readily concede that their ambitions must be denied by Scotland’s aspirations. They will fight to maintain jealous Britannia’s grasp of Scotland. We must fight even more determinedly to prise Scotland from the clutches of that malignant hag.
This is not to say we should emulate the methods and tactics used by the British state. But our own methods and tactics can be informed by theirs without descending to lies and smears and the like that we recognise so well from memories of how Better Together/Project Fear behaved during the 2014 referendum campaign. It’s not about fighting fire with fire. It not about taking an eye for every eye lost. It is not about responding in kind, but about responding appropriately. It is a matter of making the best use of the resources we have rather than wishing we had the same resources as them. They have a few rich financiers. We have many people prepared to give what they can. They have the old media. We have the new media. They have raw power. We have noble principle.
When they demonstrate that they are determined to deny our sovereignty; prohibit the exercise of our right of self-determination and impose British authority over Scottish democracy, we must consider how we can keep open a democratic route to the restoration of Scotland’s independence.
When they are prepared to do anything to preserve their precious Union. We must ask ourselves what we are prepared to do in order to save Scotland.
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