Know Your Friends

Just realised I missed the SNP manifesto launch. Still – so what? Who needs to read it when I know it’ll be perfect in every way. Others may laugh but there’s a deep contentment to be had from blindly believing everything you’re told. Handing over responsibility for judgement and decision to somebody else is such a release. I don’t have to think for myself at all. Baby boxes? Brilliant! More money to head teachers? Genius!

I’ve looked at the pictures and frankly any party that can stage an event like that with a leader who’s better than a TV evangelist can do no wrong in my opinion. I see the Brits have been flag-waving over the Queen but to be honest she’s not a patch on oor Nicola. She’s real royalty. You have to pity all those other party people with their crappy one-man-and-a-dog launches and misspelt manifestos nobody reads, all vying for a handful of votes just to get a one or two – or any – seats. Imagine having to work out who to vote for and why. Who can be bothered. Why can’t they just pick up a tambourine and join us?

 I paraphrase for you all, of course but this is how we are presented by the discerning, non-judgmental voices of an open and inclusive democracy. (From what I read, they couldn’t actually find much content to criticise in the manifesto so falling back on the lazy cliché is understandable). You’ll gather I’m not overly impressed with the stagey attempts at painting the dictatorial, centralising, over powerful Nats as, well…dictatorial, centralising and over powerful.

If one party is in power over generations and spreads its tentacles through the institutions of society, gets sticky fingers and turns itself into a Jobcentre for the relatives (I’m thinking Scottish Labour) there is indeed a danger to society, especially when the majorities are so high there’s no realistic prospect of unseating them. Or so they thought. Is that where we are in modern Scotland? Has the SNP taken over the institutions of our country? Did they appoint the head of the BBC? Is the leader of the STUC a Nat? Or the CBI? Or Scottish Opera? Or Creative Scotland? Does Sturgeon order the media around? Has any organisation been hijacked by the SNP? The only suggestion of cronyism was the puerile attempt mainly by the Herald to link a former party staffer to a grant for TinthePark – a ‘story’ utterly discredited since as being without foundation.

Also the SNP didn’t win the 2007 election. They had exactly one seat more than Labour. They were a minority government. They were happy to seek alliance with others but the Liberals were too high handed and too Unionist to deign to serve.

There was nothing foregone about the 2011 result, except that we knew the SNP would do well and probably govern. Nobody – as in nobody –predicted an overall majority. The critics talk about landslides but they only still had a majority of four seats over the magic 65. Even then they lost two to resignations during the parliament (albeit still supporting on the main issues).

On the other hand Tony Blair in 1997 had a majority of 179! Scottish Labour won the largest share of the vote in Scotland at every election from 1964 until 2015. In 1997 they had 56 out of 72 Westminster seats. These are truly massive figures that in Scotland existed over a generational period. There is no doubt that many worried about the embedded distortion on public life but Labour’s failure wasn’t in being deaf to it, but rather the failure to do anything about it. The SNP’s rise has been rapid and short by comparison – it’s hardly a generational change so far. And I would be astonished if they weren’t alive to the risks of being the incumbent having observed Labour’s travails.

But isn’t the point here that it takes a bull-size brass neck for those who surfed the wave of power to complain now that someone else has the key to the door?   Why is it a problem if Scotland elects a majority government? One argument is that Holyrood was never intended to be this way. But that’s because it dates from the nineties and is the brainchild of Labour itself. It was meant to lock in a Unionist majority – in itself an anti-democratic concept. Since then Scotland has changed. Our politics have blown the cosy old consensus to smithereens. Why do so many of the intelligentsia have a problem with that change being represented in a democratic vote to elect a government? Why can’t they allow Holyrood to evolve according to the wishes of the voters? Since when did a majority become something to be despised?

Scotland is the only country too afraid of itself to vote for its own independence. Are we now to be the only country afraid to elect a government with a democratic majority?

I have no difficulty in accepting that the SNP are venal politicians but then so are they all. They fought hard to get where they are today and aren’t ready to relinquish more than they feel comfortable with. Surprise!

Jogging them along is what we all have to do and in my case I’m unhappy that they made a Nat the Presiding Officer. It was Labour’s turn. I think there is scope for a committee of the house to carry out a kind of practical-implications-scrutiny of legislation – not to challenge the principle behind it but to look for holes that may have been missed and consequences unconsidered. I believe the committees should be put on a firmer foundation to enshrine neutrality to remove any influence of whips from decision-making. I would like us to move to an STV voting system. But I am very wary of those who dislike the influence of a party so joyously embraced by the voters. It’s almost as if the commentariat knows best.

Some of these critics makes themselves look foolish indeed. Take for example the estimable David Gow, a retired Guardian hack and lifelong Labour diehard who, among other things, edits something called Sceptical Scot. David is a leftie with an abiding contempt for the SNP. No amount of explanation and justification about European social democrats or social justice will convince him Nats are anything but ignorant teuchters who hate the English. Jock Farages, the lot of ‘em…

He was at the interestingly-timed Electoral Reform Society conference on ‘predominant parties’ in Scotland. He tweeted : ‘good lineup for debate on one-party rule at Blythswood Hall after ‪@theSNP presidential manifesto launch by dear leader’.

Get the drift?

If you imagine that he was there because he’s dead interested in improving Scottish democracy rather than to stick the knife into the SNP, I offer you this link to his blog.

Was he writing this stuff when Blair had his mountainous majorities? No, I fear that outright opposition to the SNP is being camouflaged by false flag waving. Pretending to be concerned about democracy when you’re real agenda is fighting the Nats is devious. I get tired of people who never declare their true allegiance while posing as principled critics. The Sceptical Scot site for example preens itself thus: Scotland’s premier non-tribal forum for passionate, informed debate. Sceptical Scot is for all who care about Scotland’s future, regardless of how they vote: for party, independence or union, EU or Brexit. We aim to provide an arena that is both broader and deeper than current online/print offers with a rich diet of well-researched, polemical, thought-provoking writing. Aye. Right.

I checked their editorial board. After David comes Lucy Hunter Blackman, a well-qualified sometime civil servant. She came to prominence with a one-woman campaign attacking the SNP’s no tuition fees policy. It was picked up by the media and repeated by Rattle magazine, brainchild of disaffected former SNP officer Alex Bell and by the ScotlandinUnion Unionist zoomer site.

Next is Jackie Kemp, a fine journalist in her own right and daughter of renowned editor (sorely missed today) Arnold. Jackie is a regular in the Huffington Post trotting out darkly sinister stuff about the SNP’s apparent racism and alleged Nazi past. Try here

And here

Note how in the second article the theme again surfaces of voters being too stupid to see what the intelligentsia can. How can the SNP be so popular?

When, as I hope, the voters return an SNP majority, we can expect a lot more of this sanctimonious ‘non-tribal’ drivel from the self-appointed Compliance Officers of the Scottish Commentariat. For the rest of us it will add an extra piquant pleasure to know we not only elected the government we wanted, but we stuck up two fingers to the arrogant know-alls too afraid to confess to their own political allegiance.

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29 thoughts on “Know Your Friends

  1. It is very simple . If you Nat-loving types gain any support in the country then you have obviously bamboozled the poor voters or used some alien mind-bending machine on them ( – yon Nicola Sturgeon must be an extra-terrestrial – she’s a politician AND popular – obviously not from this planet ).

    Intelligent people ( Unionists ) know that the people need to be told who to vote so they will vote in politicians who are able to deliver stable government ( run from London ) , who when they have finished making a good living for themselves and their families can be elevated to the HoL to further contribute to the good governance of the little people back home .

    Simples !

  2. Brilliant summation of the current situation. I believe that if the SNP slide into the old ways of Slab they will fall from grace pretty quickly. They know this.

  3. It was picked up by the media and repeated by Rattle magazine, brainchild of disaffected former SNP officer Alex Bell and by the ScotlandinUnion Unionist zoomer site.

    I suppose disaffected is one word to describe Alex Bell! 😀 😀

  4. “Scottish Labour won the largest share of the vote in Scotland at every election from 1964 until 2015.”

    If you count the Conservative votes for the Unionist and National Liberal & Conservative parties separately, then Labour have won the popular vote in every election since 1945, too.

  5. The unionists are trying to move the goalposts as the results aren’t what they want. I for one, am very tired of it. The SNP have fought and won on the rules set by labour.

  6. Steve Asaneilean

    1999 – (Not) Labour in charge of Westminster; (Not) Labour in charge of Holyrood; (Not) Labour in charge of most major local authorities in Scotland.

    But apparently no one party state.

    2016 – Conservative government at Westminster; SNP government at Holyrood; and (Not) Labour still in charge of many of Scotland’s major local authorities.

    Apparently that equates to a one party (SNP) state.

    So many assert it; the MSM (including BBC) never challenge it. Instead they call as many as 53% of Scots unthinking, uncritical, stupid sheep.

    Then they accuse them of not listening. No shit Sherlock!

  7. The crushing blow for Unionists is not that they no longer have the authority to decide what’s best for everyone, but the belated realisation that they never did.

  8. Clearly “one party” rule is a BAD thing in totalitarian states like Stalin’s Soviet Union, Mao’s China, Hitler’s Germany, Salmond’s Scotland, but a good thing in a flourishing, exemplary democracy like the UK where it leads to “strong” (but “moderate” [D.T.]) government headed by beacons of enlightenment like Thatcher, Blair, Brown and Cameron/Osborne.

    The first two achieved their dominance by violent revolution and consolidated it through rigged “elections”, unlike the UK where FTPT eschews the violence but ensures the result is rigged in favour of one or other of two virtually identical parties, occasionally assisted by a small group of (disposable) fellow travellers, and at the same time guarantees that the popular will of the people is ignored. Otherwise we’d have loads of nasty UKIP’ers sitting in Westminster – on the other hand we’ve loads of vile Nats there instead.

    Now, which of the main parties sitting in WM support PR? Just the vile Nats. Which of the main parties in Scotland support PR?

    So one party rule is ok if you’re a British Nationalist and you want to implement policies driven by nothing more intelligent than neoliberal political dogma and an utter contempt for actual evidence, but is dangerous, tending towards totalitarianism, fascism and a lot of other evil “isms” if you’re a party which believes the voting intentions of the public should be reflected in the composition of the parliament and challenges the cosy, corrupt political system of the British state which is run for the benefit of a plutocracy.

    Now I realise that hacks like those mentioned above have to earn a living and do so by writing stuff which they know will be approved of by their proprietors, but where is their intellectual integrity and honesty? Are they born without it or do they have it removed by surgery when they sign the contract?

    • Actually it appears that they are also in a difficult employment situation with the demise of the print media. The fertile ground is shifting uncertainly in all forms of the media too, despite the still incestuous relationship between press and TV. ( Those safe sinecures for those who choose to move between them are becoming less certain – the recent shake-up and exchange of personnel which took place in BBC, Channel 4 and ITV ?) I think we can detect in their writing the same desperate aggression of Unionist politicians to hold on to the status quo and to sustain the patronage on which they depend for their own advancement.

      Even for those close to retirement, think of the contacts made which were to benefit their own offspring and feather-bed that retirement. Hence the barely contained anger at those who threaten their comfortable future and sense of generational entitlement. Just think of the journalists who follow the family trade and the budding politicians who follow parents into what is now the family business.

      They reflect the same fury you can often detect in No voters and for the same reasons. Former unassailable certainties are being challenged which disturbs their contentment and they sense a loss of control. In that situation you can understand their determination to re-assert their imagined power over public opinion. They are, however, attempting to turn back the tide which is already moving against them.

  9. kailyard rules

    Just SNP x 2 and Forward.

  10. Just for a startling moment I thought you had come to your senses. When New Labour won by an overwhelming majority and Blair was idolised as a consequence & a huge number of our population were in raptures, my blood ran cold. I’d seen it all before. The same happened in South Africa in 1961 when the Afrikaners (containing, among others, many republican Irish descendants of those who joined forces with the Afrikaners during the Boer War.) finally defeated the evil British empire and established the Republic of South Africa. Verwoerd was practically worshipped and the Nationalist party could do no wrong. They had God on their side. Look what happened to Labour & to the South African regime. It’s a very dangerous fallacy to believe that we are the exception & that what happens with monotonous regularity throughout history will somehow pass the Scots by because they’re such a superior infallible race.

    • kailyard rules

      Apartheid did them in.

      • kailyard rules

        …and self determination/independence for Scotland has nothing to do with “race” no matter how many ways that preposterous “peerie” is spun.

    • This post is totally absurd. Not Nazis this time but Afrikaner National Party now! These so-called historical analogies are just becoming ridiculous. Anything to make the Scottish National Party appear sinister. These arguments are just silly and have nothing to do with reality. This one is really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    • “…the Scots (are) such a superior infallible race.” Why, thank you Celia. I had never realised we were so wonderful. I imagine that your use of “the Scots” is due to the fact that you are not one of them. You poor, inferior soul.

      • I’ve lived in Scotland since 1974. Your comment, although seemingly a bit of tasteless chauvinistic sarcasm, expresses just the sort of attitude prevalent in the SNP & very much at its heart. This is becoming increasingly obvious.

        • Or do you just have a massive chip on your shoulder because the people of Scotland have finally realised just how exploited they are by governments which, by and large, they don’t vote for? Or is it that there is now a hugely popular movement towards challenging that exploitation? Or is it that a redistributive idea has been mooted – by more than one of the campaigning parties, but also by that which is likely to gain power – and you stand to lose in some way or another? I’m sick of this tired old cliché that the Scots consider themselves superior. Some sections of our community do, of that there is no doubt, but there is no blanket attitude of superiority at all. To suggest that there is is merely yet another attempt to silence any criticism or challenge of the forces which do us great harm, and I’m not just talking about harm done to Scottish people. I would suggest that you are moving in the wrong circles and should get out and about amongst the ordinary citizens of this fine country.

          • No, the vast majority of Scots are not chauvinistic nationalists, just a few who are dominating the social media. Most Pro-Indy Scots are most certainly not right wing nationalist zealot’s and wouldn’t dream of expressing such racism as you are showing towards me just because I wasn’t born in Scotland.

        • Celia,you are hoisting straw men aloft in a desperate attempt to smear the SNP with. When are unionists/British nationalists like yourself going to realise that these tactics have failed abysmally since the 1970s? All the Scottish nationalist bashing in the world is not going to hide the almost complete lack of ambition and confidence that the aforementioned unionists/British nationalists have in the people of Scotland and the nation itself.

  11. ” but we stuck up two fingers to the arrogant know-alls too afraid to confess to their own political allegiance.”

    Or… without the principles to confess to….

    Keep flushing them out Derek. It is good to name and shame these Unionist toadies.

  12. I don’t care what the ‘intelligentsia’ say anymore to be honest. There is a veritable army of mainstream commentators and titles that have all done their level best to misrepresent half of the Scottish electorate whilst terrifying, manipulating, misleading and crapping on the remainder from a great height IMO. They simply have nothing to say worth hearing and certainly nothing to say that could, or should, be remotely believed anymore. Hell, a certain Mr Cochrane even wrote a book about his efforts during the referendum and took great pride in telling everyone about his political adventures in defence of the union.

    Bottom line is these people use a platform to spread true division and mistrust. Their actions actually result in harm to their own society in the name of what? Sales? Career? Political ideology? Because they get a perverse kick out of it? Who knows?

    When someone means you harm, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that they need to be countered or avoided.

    Call me fussy, but I’m particular about that sort of thing.

  13. my thanks to Derek Bateman for taking the time to offer a sensible forum where in my opinion the more reasonable opinions on Independence are given a chance to voice and debate in a reasonable fashion .

    Thats it no rants no bashing or cursing the misguided fools in my opinion who for their own ends hope to divide and split the electorate in the upcoming Election .

  14. Agree with that, Robert.

  15. Yet another excellent piece, Derek. We are accused of blindly following the SNP doctrines yet they used to (jokingly?) talk about “weighing” the Labour vote in Scotland.

    It’s comin’ yet, for a’ that.

  16. SNP x 2 and thks again Derek . great Blog and commenters.

    get the job done then worry about a rainbow parli…. roll on MAY 🙂

  17. Oh dear dear I made the mistake of clicking on the links above , have I missed the health warning ? When you read supposedly intelligent people’s thinly disguised hatred and under the surface bile you feel tainted , unclean .In all cases the comments of these people come across as the anointed ones talking down to the idiots .That might have worked a few years ago but these people have been rumbled exposed , I bet all the people commenting here could give these opinionated arses a run for their money and win , because you can’t defend the indefensible however politely and eligently it’s presented can’t polish a turd comes to mind .And to these educated self opinionated shysters we ain’t listening we can form our own opinion thank you very much .

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