“Child, you have to learn to see things in the right proportions. Learn to see great things great and small things small.” Corrie ten Boom
In his latest jeremiad Gerry Hassan avers that “Scotland needs a more substantive politics, challenging power and elites including the SNP”. His cri de coeur is just the latest in a litany of critical contributions from erstwhile supporters of Scottish independence of various political hues and of various levels of commitment. Of course the nature of the criticism directed at the Yes movement as a whole, and the SNP and its record in government in particular, varies in its content and level of opprobrium dependent on the individual contributor. A general trend can however be distinguished, and Gerry’s piece can be taken as a fair exemplar of the genre. What is signally lacking in much of this critique is the ability to see things in the right proportion; learning as Corrie ten Boom said to “see great things great and small things small”.
Let’s examine the main themes of our concerned friends and see how accurately aimed this friendly fire is.
- Wheesht for Indy
According to Gerry Hassan amongst others (yes, we are looking at you Loki, Pat Kane and Bella Caledonia!), “part” of nationalism isn’t reacting well to criticism of even the mildest kind, and what is worse this perspective is hypocritical because it isn’t interested in putting any criticism toward the Nationalists. Little if any real evidence is produced to support this contention, but it is one that is regularly trotted out not only by the perennially and almost uniformly hostile main stream media, but increasingly by disaffected supporters of independence who bridle at the SNP’s levels of support and electoral dominance.
The “wheesht for indy” meme came to prominence during the last Holyrood election, largely it seemed as a reaction to the “both votes SNP” campaign. As a concept it generated a lot more heat than light, and served to alienate a fair number of former Yes campaign allies from one another as the relative merits of promoting votes for the Scottish Greens, RISE and other left wing pro-indy candidates were debated. In the end however the warnings from those who were skeptical of the electoral sense of splitting the pro-indy vote in an AWS election were proven correct. The SNP, despite increasing its number of votes, lost its absolute majority. Unionist tactical voting, and ill-considered Green candidacies both played a part.
Of course many Greens and sundry lefties will be pleased the SNP failed to win an absolute majority. They believe the Greens may serve to keep the SNP honest (even if the risk was actually that there would be no pro-indy majority at Holyrood at all, which would have made calling #indyref2 an impossibility), and are unconvinced of the SNP’s appetite for for actually doing something (anything?) to actually use the powers it has to improve the lives of ordinary people. Uncomfortably for them, this line of argument echoes the “get on with the day job” criticism levelled by the britnat parties. The motivation and the desired outcomes may be different, but they are singing from the same hymn sheet; Ruth Davidson and Kezia Dugdale want the SNP to use their powers in the hope that the difficult choices and spending cuts involved would have an adverse impact on the SNPs support, opening the door for a unionist resurgence.
Many non-SNP pro-indy folk want the SNP to act, whatever the constraints of the current funding situation, because they prioritise improvement now (however minor or curtailed) over the needs of independence; some are so suspicious of the SNP’s appetite for implementing progressive, radical policies that they honestly think it would be better to delay or even abandon the goal of independence if it meant making progress now. They hope that such policies might aid their electoral chances too, and either think it would not adversely impact the chances of achieving independence, or frankly see that as a price worth paying.
The elephant in the room for this argument however, is that the short term gains which might be achievable by (say) increasing taxes in Scotland, would likely cost the SNP support, make independence much less likely, and therefore deny us the chance to use ALL the political and economic levers available post independence to construct a fairer, more equitable and progressive Scotland. The questionable short term gain would certainly not offset the likely long term pain.
Gerry assiduously builds an ever more elaborate straw man that the SNP are somehow not being held to account and are given a free pass. This will I’m sure be news to SNP MPs, MSPs, activists and supporters. It speaks to the vapid and deeply disingenuous britnat “othering” of all independence supporters as unthinking, cultish cybernats utterly incapable of criticizing the SNP or holding opinions of their own. We’ve come to expect such bile fuelled agitprop from the britnat MSM; it’s tragic that someone like Gerry stoops to give such havering a gloss of intellectual respectability. Perhaps we should just be thankful J.K Rowling hasn’t contributed £5000 towards his efforts?
- The Animal Farm Conundrum
Not content with the attempt to animate the “wheesht for indy” straw man, Gerry proceeds to the construction of another, no less elaborate and no more convincing. In its growth from wee to big, the SNP it seems has now become the Scottish Labour party de nos jours. The logic (such as it is) of this position appears to be that the SNP have already begun to succumb to the “cronyism, corruption and incestuousness” that did for the Labour party in Scotland. Although Gerry accepts that the SNP has a long way to fall to plumb Labour’s current depths, he already sees the writing on the wall and assures us that the happy-clappy, inclusive SNP of yore is donning the frayed mantle of Labour. The king is dead, long live the king!
The creeping corruption of the SNP will no doubt come as news to the tens of thousands of new members. Again, Gerry dips his pen into the poison inkwell of britnattery to reinforce the false prospectus that the SNPs electoral success, its sky high approval ratings, its popular leadership are the hallmarks of a one party state. Where Labour led, the SNP are bound to follow; he refrains from using the toxic Dear Leader label, settling instead for “there is already a similar Sandinista feel about the class of SNP politicians…”.
Really? Are we supposed to accept uncritically the notion that one of the most successful political movements of our time is doomed to go down in history as just as morally bankrupt and politically self-destructive as the odious New Labour project? On what evidence? Gerry’s perception seems askew; anyone who can look from Labour to SNP, and SNP to Labour, (even at a distance, with squinty eyes, and admitting it may be a fair way off) and find it impossible to say which was which à la Animal Farm needs to take a good hard look at themselves. Challenging power, orthodoxies and blind faith isn’t achieved by lending credence to the concept that Scotland is a one party state Gerry; the britnats already tried to sell us that pup. A one party state is one where only one party is allowed and all others are banned, it’s not a country where one party dominates because it enjoys wide public support and trust and faces a fractured, shambolic set of opposition parties.
- Voices from the Bunker
The final theme relates to what Gerry describes as creating political propaganda to challenge propaganda and making a political bunker. After discussing in some detail a number of fairly trivial examples (the usual suspects; Torrance and Neil Oliver flouncing off twitter, Daisleygate, Salmond and the RBS HQ discussion) the lesson which it appears we are supposed to draw is that pluralism is in danger. The monolithic SNP one party state is perforce guilty by association (on no particular evidence) of putting political pressure on the STV over the Daisley affair; the shibboleths of political censorship, manipulation and pressure are presented for us to fear. We are invited to share Gerry’s fear that the worries of “lots of people in the media” are well founded and that the SNP are a clear and present danger not just to press freedom but political pluralism itself.
This laughably “through the looking glass” view of the state of the relationship between the Scots main stream media and the Yes movement generally, and the SNP in particular, will cause some hilarity amongst most pro-independence folk. While aiming an ill-judged and evidence free side swipe at those he regards as closed minded Nationalists (unsurprisingly including Wings Over Scotland, Derek Bateman and G.A. Ponsonby), Gerry ignores the six lane motorway of MSM bias, abuse, misinformation and deceit and invites us to concentrate solely on the jungle path heading off in the other direction. It’s not just breathtakingly short sighted, it’s wilfully misleading.
Many of us have long suspected that after years of fence sitting Gerry has never been more than a semi-detached supporter of independence. The statements in his blog prove it beyond any reasonable doubt. Asserting that the SNP or Scottish Government isn’t truly open to scrutiny, or that it shows signs of endangering pluralism and has the desire, still less ability, to bend the Scots MSM to its will just makes him look rather desperate.
Gerry needs to take Corrie ten Boom’s message to heart and learn to see great things great and small things small.
(Gerry Hassan’s piece can be found here: http://www.gerryhassan.com/blog/flags-and-stramashs-in-scotlands-summer-of-independence/ )