Remember Mhairi Black? The young firebrand straight off the streets of Paisley and cheerfully contemptuous of Unionist opponents and the SNP hierarchy alike. Mind o’ her? The mouthy lassie plucked fae Glasgow University Students’ Union before she’d finished her pint or her degree and chucked into the British House of Commons like a grenade. Remember? Remember the words like shrapnel delivered with genuine passion, eloquence and erudition in a Scottish accent devoid of artifice and offering no apology? Remember how we cheered every time she spoke? Remember how we laughed when the denizens of the metropolitan media bubble complained that they couldn’t understand a word she said? Remember thinking this was the start of the revolution? Remember that Mhairi Black? Where is she now?
Where did this Mhairi Black come from? The one who wrote this column in The National? Where is the rebel? Who is this Mhairi Black? The one peddling the party line for all she’s worth. The one plying us with unctuous platitudes and condescending rationalisations of the SNP leadership’s paralysed timidity in the face of the British Nationalist threat to Scotland’s democracy.
Whose voice is this?
So, if this is all so bad, what are we actually doing about it? The truth is we’re fighting it every way we can, but the Prime Minister has a massive majority, meaning that we are on a steeply uphill climb.
Where is the Mhairi Black who would have pointed out that the SNP isn’t tackling so much as a gentle slope? Where is the Mhairi Black who would have angrily bemoaned the fact that the party was on a British-made treadmill and taking Scotland’s cause nowhere?
What manner of Mhairi Black is this?
OK, so why not have indyref2 now? Why don’t we get out of this mess and hold the referendum in a month, now that we are clear the majority want independence? I get questions like this a lot these days.
Would the real Mhairi Black resort to such a puerile straw man in a feeble attempt to gloss over the missed opportunities of the last six years and defend the stubborn inaction of the present? I don’t know who is asking this Mhairi Black these questions. It’s certainly none of the more thoughtful individuals who are critical of the SNP’s failure to progress the fight to restore Scotland’s democracy despite the circumstances being so favourable. None of those thoughtful commentators are demanding we have a new referendum right now. None of them are suggesting we hold the referendum “in a month”. Does this Mhairi Black imagine we are too stupid to have recognised the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic? Would the real Mhairi Black be so patronising?
Wouldn’t the real Mhairi Black have wits enough to realise that there are things that might be done other than hold an immediate referendum? Wouldn’t the real Mhairi Black have imagination enough to be aware that there are ways of campaigning other than traditional canvassing and leafleting?
The Mhairi Black I seem to remember might have been expected to have joined with those of us demanding a rethink on the commitment to the Section 30 process. The Mhairi Black of old might have been part of the campaign to persuade Nicola Sturgeon to take a new and markedly different approach to the constitutional issue. That Mhairi Black would surely have seen the value of immediately adopting a Manifesto for Independence and the need to reframe the issue and rebuild the campaign accordingly.
Where is the real Mhairi Black? And why does this one sound so much like Pete Wishart?