The Rise of the SNP

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Sean Connery at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999

I was certain we would lose the first independence referendum, so certain that I placed a £100 bet in William Hill at 7 to 1, to win the vote. I did the patriotic thing, the futile sacrifice. And why not, as Arnold Brown is want to say. Colonised over 300 years, the chances of the ill and the sick getting up off their mattresses to vote the colonial invaders home was no more than fantasy. After all, we hardly had more than a year of a nationwide debate to turn Britishness into nationness. No amount of frantic idealism was going to reverse 300 years of imposed English values overnight.

Be prepared – next year, maybe

And so it came to pass a fool and his money are soon parted, in my case, to a bank in Gibraltar where William Hill has registered his betting company. As I left Davy Byrnes’ pub in Dublin days before the vote, a republican shouted “Do you think Scotland can do it?” I hesitated a beat and then shook my head. Had enough folk seen the light, a third of the UK land mass would have ceased to be British territory.

Had we won, Scotland would still be called Scotland, but what England would be called, still dragging Wales and Northern Ireland behind it, is another matter. “rUK” is clunky.

I suspected back then England might hold tight to the delusion of an empire and stick with Britain just to snub Scotland and mollify wee Englanders. That presupposed there would be a “South Britain” – Devon and Cornwall, a “North Britain” – Northumberland, and a “Middle Britain”, somewhere around Nottingham, mythical Robin Hood territory.

Instead, we have a fiercely anti-democratic British prime minister, Boris Johnson, fronting a tyrannical British state, a man who has anointed himself ‘prime minister of the four nations’, arrogantly ignoring devolution parliament and assemblies.

Stand well back and look again

To understand why the Union is not worth resuscitating you have to stand well back, back to the late Sixties and early Seventies. When I was in short trousers the Union could not have been more secure. Britain was still a world power.

In the Sixties, London dominated everything, or took over everything if the source made money. In that category fell popular music, classical music, television programming, fashion, photography, fine art, magazine production, newspapers, novels and writer’s agents. If you were anything wanting to be someone you gravitated to London.

I subsisted in London penniless, seeking fame and fortune, living off Rumbaba cakes, secretly sleeping in a camper van at the back of a big garage. I left each morning before the staff arrived. London was an education, the magnet for everything. That process had been a fact for two hundred years, enough to worry English intellectuals who saw the land denuded of farm and craft workers, they abandoning the place of their forefathers for the lure of the metropolis and better paid work.

The SNP at the time was a blot on the misty moors of the Highlands, an irrelevant and oft derided eccentric sect that attracted more ridicule than serious interest. One of its founding members, Hugh MacDiarmid, was forever getting thrown out of the SNP and invited back in again. He was news, the others were considered comics in kilts.

Scotland’s mainstream parties were Labour and Tory. Scotland was that contradictory thing: proud of its Red Clydeside yet rejecting any thought of independence. In fact, when revolutionary socialist John Maclean was at his oratory height, Scotland voted Tory. Only in times of adversity did dissent ferment in the tenement villages of Glasgow.

When a Labour government ruled Scotland we grew contented again despite being robbed blind of our wealth by Labour as much as by Tory administrations.

British together

The paradox of the Anglo-Scottish mentality is, we die for other people’s countries, not for Scotland. In reality we killed for English power.

Last century we felt part of something else that wasn’t wet Scotland, something much bigger than our land. Deaths of our service men and women in the First and the Second World Wars encouraged Britishness. The collective sacrifice was reiterated to us in all sorts of ways, as it is now, every day in press articles, television documentaries, films, and endless ceremonies to the dead, manufactured by England’s propaganda machine.

I cannot think of another nation so obsessed with death, sending generations of its youth to die in unnecessary wars and then commemorating their obliteration, while ignoring the deaths of foreign innocents we have murdered.

To add to that imperial attitude, the establishment of the Welfare State made us feel Britain is a good place to be. We did not, after all, have any other source of income. The British Treasury took all our wealth, including funds from the US Marshall Plan – a post WWII massive bribe to see things the US way – hardly a penny spent in Scotland.

By the Sixties, pride in a the British empire had all but evaporated. We still had the Commonwealth countries to comfort us – common and wealth being the most cynical title for countries we thought had nothing in common with England, and from which we stole wealth. We were blind to the hypocrisy.

Seeing HRH Queen Elizabeth accepting flowers from an indigenous child in British Guiana, for example, helped to cement the image of a great Union still a powerful force in the world. We might have ended the war bankrupt but we felt we were only down to our last bag of rubies.

There was always that plucky British spirit to see us on our feet again. Moreover, the nationalisation of British industries helped strengthen Scotland’s perception of living in a partnership of equals, overlooking some of us were poorer than others.


The quiet before the storm

Winnie Ewing’s surprise, shock 1967 victory for the SNP at the Hamilton by-election was a portent of things to come.

By then, uncontrollable events inside and outside Britain undermined the age-old stability of the Union. One of the first to burst the banks was joining the Common Market in 1973. Remember, the 1707 Treaty was essentially a trading agreement, not only a way of rendering Scotland compliant. So too was signing up to the Common market.

The Seventies changed Scots. England’s markets ceased to be Scotland’s only outlet. Now we had multiple trading partners, the very thing that England blocked in order to impoverish Scotland and bring it to the negotiating table in 1707!

With Britain joining what was to become the European Union, Scotland did not have to rely solely on trade with England. There was freedom in trade.

Joining our European friends had other benefits. A primary factor floating Union stability was the perception of a collective existential threat from a foreign foe: France and Spain in the 18th century, Russia, Vietnam and then China in the 20th century. Meeting Europeans who were meeting their Soviet and Chinese counterparts brought forth better knowledge of countries we were told were evil places.

In the 18th century Scotland was exploited for its taxes and trees to fund England’s racists wars, its intense suspicion of Johnny Foreigner. By the Sixties we had East Germany and a nuclear-armed Soviet Russia served up as our existential ‘threat’. With the rise of the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev we saw the end of the Cold War removing the fear of nuclear attack, or at least lessening it. (The USA was busy surrounding Russia with nuclear posts.) Today, the Tories do their best to resurrect fear again by adding Islamist fanaticism to the pile. Now we live in an age of digital communication. A politician’s lie can be dismantled worldwide within an hour.

The religious angle

Until these last few years the Catholic church was spectacularly antagonistic towards anything associated with the SNP. Not for nothing does our ecumenical music man, Sir James Macmillan, compose for the pleasure and applause of cardinals, and does it while portraying the SNP as philistines, third-raters, and godless.

Catholics had a profound suspicion of the SNP. They saw it as a Presbyterian stronghold, and indeed, some of the fiery Calvinist rhetoric that issued from its best speakers added to the distrust. As church congregations faded away so did adherence to the Pope’s edicts, and resistance to the SNP as a political force.

The Sixties and Seventies liberalisation of sexual laws, and the freedom from sexual taboos, plus the Pill for women, were all resisted by the Catholic church. The new free thinking wave and scientific attitude to the mysteries of life and the universe freed the intellect. The times saw the Catholic church losing well over half of its followers in a decade.

Scotland, for all its Catholic history since Mary, Queen of Scots, brought it with her from France, was still wedded to Protestantism. In the latter half of the 20th century Protestantism kept Scottish society close to England’s religious traditions. As we moved into the age of secularism Scotland began taking note of its own history and traditions. By the Nineties the Church of Scotland was toiling to get parishioners into their chapels. The ‘Wee Frees’ of the Highlands and Islands found their influence reduced to pomposity.

The working-class Protestant culture, once the bedrock of Scotland’s daily life, the Kirk, the Boys’ Brigade, the Boy Scouts, to some extend the Girl Guides, but especially Rangers Football Club, began to atrophy. The dib-dib-dibbing, the chanting football songs to unionism that produced Tory governments, started to creak and fall apart.

Until the rot began, working class adherence to the two main political parties most committed to the Union, Conservative and Labour, left no space for the growth of nationalism. Now there was space for the SNP to breathe, to speak with a unified voice, and to convince.

First, the SNP had to pull together policies fit for the 21st century. Internally, the SNP had a rethink – curiously the slogan ‘It’s our Oil‘ was jettisoned – and slowly but surely the result attracted new membership from all walks of life, and all political parties, from communists to Conservatives, from Buddhists to vegetarians.

That sectarian electoral pattern in existence so long, especially in the west of Scotland, derived from the age-old hostilities between Protestant and Catholic. It reached a crisis between the wars, when the Church of Scotland leadership made the gargantuan error of petitioning the UK government to prohibit Irish Catholic immigration. The animosity left deep scars. People began to revolt against discrimination for jobs selected by sectarian category. By the late Nineties the old ways had withered, sectarian voting patterns dissolved. The habit of Protestants supporting the Conservatives and Catholics giving automatic allegiance to Labour, was no longer the rule.

As those beliefs, those certainties fell away, the populace began to question why Scotland danced to England’s piper, and why Scotland had to beg for, and justify, an annual budget figure when the money awarded by the UK Treasury was nothing more than a paltry portion of taxes taken from Scotland. In time people realised Scotland’s progress was at the mercy of English nationalism and English priorities.


Manufacturing is decimated

Scotland lost nearly a third of its manufacturing capacity from the mid-Seventies to the late Eighties. Steel making, ship building and bridge building, that were Scotland’s pride and international trademark, disappeared in a few years.

There was only one culprit, one destroyer of worlds, Margaret Thatcher, the same Tory who stated an SNP landslide was a legitimate democratic cue to restore independence. Her successful assault on the miner’s union, implemented with cunning and police violence and a lot of help from the right-wing press, was repulsed in Scotland as much as Wales until resistance could hold out no more. Mine after mine closed down, the communities around them turned into bleak, depressing towns sporting a ‘visitor’s mining museum’. Her imposition of the hated Poll Tax on Scotland as a guinea pig, was more evidence of England abusing an alleged equal partner.

The social dislocation was much greater in Scotland than in England. It made people understand they were not in charge of their own destinies. People who did not live in Scotland decided who worked and who did not. Decisions that affected Scotland were taken by people elsewhere, people who did not care about Scotland’s needs or interests beyond hunting, fishing and shooting, and owning a track of pine forestation as an investment.

The reaction was strong and decisive. Scotland became a Tory-free zone in electoral terms. Another pillar of the Union crumbled and collapsed. Power first moved to the Labour Party to govern not the SNP, giving rise to the myth that Scotland is traditionally a left-wing country in political outlook.

The English colonial

Not for the first time Scots began to count the colonial English among them, the ones that influenced their lives, who saw Scotland as a stepping stone to ‘better things’ in London. English appointments to high office in various institutions ran into a wall of criticism. Were there no equally qualified people living and working in Scotland? BBC Scotland found itself the target of protest for ignoring the glaring rupture in Union loyalty.

The derogatory term ‘House Jock’ was attributed to Scots of a colonial mentality, keen to achieve preferment and elevation to the House of Lords. Secretaries of State tended to be given that derisory epithet, their post more viceroy of Scotland than special consultant for Scotland. To those critical voices there was an opposite reaction in London where anybody with a Scots accent in high office was derided or sidelined. On the streets, a Scottish bank note was considered ‘toy town’ money and refused in shops as legal tender.

Scots began to compare their political attitudes with countries other than the alien ideology of neo-liberalism imposed by Margaret Thatcher and her protege, Tony Blair. They looked at Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and inevitably Ireland, a nation that  recovered quickly from the bank crisis of 2008. Those developments, fundamental and petty, and the comparisons they saw in other countries of five million people, pushed Scots to take a greater interest in state involvement in public spending. 

Lord Jonathan Sumption, justice of the Supreme Court, argued in a 2013 lecture, that these levels of public expenditure “inevitably had profound effects on attitudes to the state in Scotland, which differ significantly from the rather more equivocal view of the state taken by most Englishmen”.

An English judge had spotted profound changes in attitude on both sides of the border, a divergence in political cultures, cleaving the Union like a shelf of Arctic ice.

Nicola Sturgeon Meets The 56 Newly Elected SNP MPs

The end is the beginning

The foundation of the Scottish parliament in 1999  saw Labour take charge, with the SNP in second place, and the Tories trailing behind. Devolution was by then unstoppable, although some tried, Scots MPs among them proving a colonial mentality takes a generation to shake off.

The task of rubber stamping a debating assembly, then termed ‘executive’ was given to prime minster, Tony Blair. (Later Alex Salmond switched it to its proper function, a parliament.) As Blair feared, reinstating Scotland’s debating chamber energised nationalists who wanted a better country, and, fulfilling his worst nightmare, saw them demand real powers to govern Scotland without being on bended knees.

Blair was to add that agreeing to devolution was one of his major errors. To Scots, his biggest error was taking the UK into the Iraq war on a falsehood, a lie a first year student of politics could perceive, that folly and corralling North Sea oil to steal the revenue for the UK Treasury.

For those transgressions Blair was not to be forgiven. His blunder was further enlarged when his successor, another Scot seeking stardom as prime minister, Gordon Brown, totally unsuited to the role, refused to visit the Scottish parliament. He turned his back on any co-operation with the SNP. At one point it was rumoured he had contacted other leaders of other political parties in an attempt to overthrow the SNP in its first days in office, an attempted coup in anybody’s language.

Under Blair old Labour had become New Labour, but to Scotland it was business as usual Labour. When the SNP gained its first shaky minority administration, proven to govern with a competent, steady hand, the die was cast. Scotland’s parliament became the spur for Scots to examine every aspect of the lives, their history, their culture, their economy and their future.

This, then, became the basis of the historic SNP victory in 2011.

Is that the time already?

Now, in 2020, the SNP has reached a crossroads. Having ignored three mandates and as many opportunities to use them, given to them by the electorate to process a second referendum on autonomy, discontent has created a clamour for the constitutional change the SNP so often promised.

The SNP is once again faced by the old enemy, an implacable, far-right Tory Party in power at Westminster determined to treat Scotland as a province, but give it less respect than Northern Ireland, indeed, less respect than Gibraltar.

England’s nationalist upsurge has its goal to regain its own parliament and embrace delusions of empire with inflated occasions of pomp and circumstance. Simultaneously, when it ought to have been at its most politically vigorous, the SNP is mired in badly thought through policies, cases of sleaze and conspiracy it could have avoided, and dragged out of the European Union against its will by the British state.

The SNP sees itself out of step with the concerns and anxieties of the people who put it in power. Dissent mounts. Formerly avid supporters bleed away who see the SNP as risk averse, clumsy and unreliable. Self-determination is superseded by self-flagellation. “

If the plan is to force Westminster to think Scotland an objectionable, ungrateful, province making demands and so they ask us to go, I’d say well done SNP. But while English arrogance claims we are all of that, Westminster does the opposite, it removes our rights. Had the SNP leadership put forward a plan for a federalism of states, instead of chasing Brexit, each state autonomous, keeping and spending what we earned, yet interdependent, the SNP would not be beset by cries for action. We would have garnered many English adherents, English who feel they have sacrificed too much in the name of a spurious Britishness.

The flaw in the creation of the UK is there for all to see, one nation holds 85% of the population, and the vast majority of seats in the assembly of nations, thus controlling the destiny of all others.

Historians studying Scotland state the Union is dead. Scots acknowledge the Union is wholly unfit for the 21st century, English are questioning the efficacy of England as a superstate. The risk-averse SNP, hell-bent on chasing more mundane political matters, appears unable or unwilling to do what it was elected to do, give Scotland back to its people. When it comes to sacrifices for the greater good, don’t look to the SNP – not yet.

England is not in perpetual mourning for the loss of Ireland. Why should it fear the loss of Scotland? If we are ‘Better Together’, we are better together in a different form that benefits each nation, not just the biggest.

NOTE: This is a work in progress.


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53 Responses to The Rise of the SNP

  1. murren59 says:


  2. Marlelc says:

    Excellent, thank you so much for this calm, well thought out report. I hope SNP read and take heed.

  3. Muscleguy says:

    Excellent grousing there. The cure, in part is to stop throwing your List vote at the SNP while they hoover up the constituencies ensuring those votes will be divided by 10 or 12 ensuring Unionists get elected instead of SNP folk. Getting named on the SNP list is no longer a job prospect, you have to get a constituency to fight.

    The problem is the traditional cure for this, the Greens are further down the woke rabbit hole than the SNP are and it is clear far too many folk will never vote Green for all sorts of reasons. So we need a Yes party to vote for on the List who are not Woke, who will offer an alternative, more ambitious program for Scotland and act as a reproach to the moribund SNP over Independence.

    We have one now with the ISP being minted and looking increasingly credible. Website is in progress. There is a twitter @IndyScotParty. There may be others soon.

    To progress to independence we need non SNP Yes people in Holyrood to hold the SNP’s feet to the Indy fire which is burning in the land. It never went out since 2014, we have kept the flame alive and Sturgeon is feart of us. Hence the expectation management, the promises: indyref2 is coming (oh no it isn’t). Hence the panicked mantra: Both votes SNP, ignoring the unfavourable electoral calculus of the second part.

    Don’t be a mathematically ignorant sheeple, cast off your gold and black chains, just a little. Indulge them with your first vote but ensure they have a conscience with your second. They will get a majority with the constituencies alone, 54% will see to that. There will still be Greens on top. Every ISP or other MSP will displace a Unionist. Well kent pointless coupons gone. THIS is how to get rid of Murdo and his ilk.

  4. Superb article and great post by Muscleguy in reply.

  5. John Sinclair says:

    Time well spent in writing this essay, reading it this Saturday morning has uplifted my spirit, thank you.

  6. Indy Chas says:

    Super piece that puts a lot of things in context for me. One point though, was it the poll tax and not the bedroom tax that Margaret Thatcher introduced in Scotland?

  7. Grouse Beater says:

    A well considered reply, Muscleguy. As I say to tormentors who demand debate – debate on Twitter is useless – I enjoy interacting with respectful folk, even better when I learn from them. Thank you.

  8. Grouse Beater says:

    John Sinclair – you’re welcome. It was one of those that flowed, bar checking dates, and getting bedroom Tax confused with the dreaded Poll Tax.

  9. Superb article. Best i’ve read for quite some time.

    There’s an old saying that all political aspirations end in failure. (I paraphrase.) The biggest reason is the assumption of political immortality that increases with sucess.
    The SNP have been in Holyrood for a long time in political terms, without being seriously challenged on their core intentions and values from like minded political groups. They’ve got comfortable, and have managed to fend off calls for their obligation to fulfill the multiple mandates they were given by the Scottish people.

    Now is the time, at the most crucial time for us all, to focus the lens, and ask those ‘awkward questions’ of them, directly, and through challenge from alternatives.

  10. David Sillars says:

    When movements become governments, their priorities change from vision to management.
    When this happens their personnel evolve to meet the different needs. Change destabilises management. Therefore the party resists change in order to get on with the day job. The Trotskyist permanent revolution and the Maoist “back to the fields” theories were to overcome these tendencies.
    However in a social democracy, I think the only way to separate management from movement is party structures or party renewal either through caucuses or new parties. Bolsheviks and Mensheviks springs to mind.

  11. Sorry if I’m not respectful enough for you but nevertheless that was a good bit of writing with which I totally concur

  12. Grouse Beater says:

    I’ve never considered you anything but a good, interesting contributor, Am Broc. Dissent is fine with me, it’s only person insult that perturbs. Onward!

  13. Great piece GB

    A deliberately loaded metaphor

    Two horses:
    One is running, a bit chaotically but determinedly full pelt towards a half open gate

    The other is bridled and saddled, ridden in dressage circles doing fancy tricks next to a wide open gate.

    Which is closer to escaping? The one that has ‘never been closer’ to the gate or the one running hard towards it?

    We need to wake up the SNP, I think the ISP is in a good position to shake things up.
    As has been pointed out by many analytical folk, ISP is a risk but I still think it’s better than going round in circles asking for S30 and another mandate.

    Only point I’d question in you article is about the first SNP administration being shaky.
    I think one of it’s strengths was being a minority, having to argue it’s policy and dare the Unionists to vote them down. I don’t think we’d have the dreadful policy mis-steps with a government that had to justify to a wider base than just the Green Party.

  14. Julia Gibb says:

    Excellent piece. Well done!
    Time to take OUR Party back.

  15. absolutely spot on with this Grouse. A wonderful read as it took me through my early days and brought to my mind where we are today and what a waste of time the present SNP are now.
    I think this, and your follow up should be entered into the Scottish Schools curriculum as necessary reading, for the young people who have replaced us since this all took place.
    At our age, we make comments and judgements on political events based on the fact we lived through these times, something our young folk do not have the advantage of, therefore we have a responsibility to make them aware of how we arrived at where we are.
    I cannot wait to read your follow up, time to get back to that computer

  16. Hugh Wallace says:

    Outstanding work (in progress)!

  17. Robert Graham says:

    A good read and hopefully it will get a wider audience , particularly the latter parts ,I am concerned with the events and really disturbing aspects surrounding the Vendetta against Alex Salmond , ever since he made the move to RT to present his show some of the most virulent opposition came not from unionists but from SNP MPs in Westminster , Ian Blacford being the most vocal as i remember , the same Ian Blackford that Johnston openly laughs at every time he speaks ,it appears this unit assembled by Police Scotland rather being disbanded after Alex being found innocent of all charges appears to be hard at work and going after any supporters of Alex , This is a question Nicola Sturgeon must face questioning on and with extreme urgency ,is she and the management of the SNP aware or indeed involved in this travesty , everyone is aware the focus must be this pandemic but this serious bordering on the criminal witch hunt cant be glossed over or covered up .

  18. Terence Callachan says:

    But don’t write off the SNP

  19. Lucky L says:

    As we often hear, “We are where we are”. This article nails it and also gives a hint as to which is the way forward.

  20. Grouse Beater says:

    No one is writing them off. Chivvying them to do better, is the call.

  21. grumpydubai says:

    Kudos to you Grouse Beater.

    Neatly summarises the politics of my Country during my lifetime.

    I only hope Mr. Callahan and your call for them to do (much) better, will energise those who can bring about the target of the Party – political Independence (and subsequently should the people so wish, the dissolution of the United Kingdom).

  22. Daniel Watt says:

    What would your bet be now? 🙂

  23. Grouse Beater says:

    Unless the British state does some sinister, Alex Salmond will make the next move.

  24. Bill Boggia says:

    A great article thanks. But as well right now something is happening. With the COVID crises we are seeing a much needed divergance between Holyrood and Westminster. It is perhaps small steps – but Nicola Sturgeons approval rating as a leader has soared in Scotland and won wide respect in England. It could be argued that we are in rapidly changing times. The mistakes of yesterday rightly need acknowledging and making ammends is required (stable clearing e.t.c) – but just now many folk who were never SNP voters are supporting Nicola Sturgeon. It looks to me like the confidence of our nation to take care of itself and lead itself is enjoying a much welcome boost – and it can’t be denied that Nicola Sturgeon has achieved this. Perhaps she herself has just found the confidence to be a leader of an independent Scotland – and is at last acting like it ?

  25. Excellent history lesson, with pointed final message.

    Good, informative points made by muscleguy, I agree about the need for List vote education and utilisation. I have however a guarded trepidation re how List-savvy voting will be presented on doorsteps – by canvassing SNP candidates. List-voting smarts could become the norm (?) on social media, but if SNP canvassers are queried on this by puzzled constituents, will those SNP reps concede and encourage its usefulness, or will they demean it as an existential threat? I’m thinking Better Together Labour canvassers lying to pensioners re pensions.

    This type of disagreement – and doorstep fake news – could be used expertly by those wishing to portray SNP as enemy and undermine etc, etc – golden opportunity for them. My thinking is that SNP hierarchy would have to underwrite – officially or otherwise – this method of smart voting for it to be trouble free and for it not to present open goal for dark ops to readily exploit.

    I’m a 100% Alex Salmond fan, but apart from the fact his wife doesn’t keep well, any plans by a new Scottish independence party to have Mr Salmond lead this party might result in a dirty, damaging war. If SNP hierarchy are to underwrite the List move it’s probable they’ll agree to it only if Mr Salmond is not its leader. In fact, imagine the turmoil within SNP when *certain of its members* object vociferously to underwriting a List vote party led by the very person they attempted to fit up.

  26. My response in my blog to another excellent article GB.

    Grouse Beater has written another excellent article that I would encourage you all to read The article got me thinking about the SNP as I see them today and I suppose my falling out of love with the party since 2012.

    Like Grouse Beater I didn’t feel in my heart that we would win the independence referendum in 2014, I longed, I hoped, I prayed, I so wanted to win, I tried to convince myself that we would but 300 years of Jockholme Syndrome was never going to be reversed in 16 months of campaigning and educating against the largest establishment and media assault any country has ever seen. We weren’t just up against a Westminster Government, we were up against all the tools of colonial rule, up against the establishment, up against a Government who used it’s influence to get other countries like the USA, and even the EU, to inform us Scots that we needed to be under the boot of the establishment of Westminster. We could never win, not in 2014.

    The fact that the vote was so close was down to two factors, Alex Salmond being the leader we needed at the right time A man, no matter his faults, who for a long time had stood up against the established rule and said no, a man who for me dragged the SNP into being the actual independence party. The other part was the YES movement, the locally organised movement that knocked on doors, educated itself so that it could educate others, a movement that went out in the rain and in the cold, took the abuse, the taunts, the ridicule from the media and said enough, they are the true heroes in so many ways.

    The independence referendum also allowed many to see what Labour and the Liberal Democrats really stood for when it came to Scotland, Scotland isn’t really a country to them, it’s a region, it’s a plaything of the wealthy inhabited by the poor. Scotland’s independence to them wasn’t about how ambitious and progressive an independent Scotland could be but how much Scottish independence would diminish England. They weren’t afraid of what Scotland would become they were afraid of what England would become, they still are today. Put aside the economy for the minute, the unionist Labour and Liberal Parties are afraid of what England becomes when Scotland finally decides to take back it’s sovereignty. Labour and the Liberal Democrats decided that they were Better Together with Tories than getting behind a democratic and progressive movement that believed in a lot of what they believed in, they put that aside for continued colonialism.

    The independence referendum also gave the SNP a massive advantage over the unionists in Scotland. The SNP could count on nearly 45% of the voting public whereas the unionists had to share the rest. So in a parliament designed to kill off Scottish nationalism and keep the SNP out of power they have enough votes to give them every chance to remain in power in Scotland for a long time to come. And that brings us to the SNP of today and why it is no longer a love affair for me but a means to an end.

    The SNP, right now, are the best party to govern Scotland but in some ways it is in spite of them rather than their brilliance. The SNP are a left of centre party, they have done some good things. Free prescriptions at the point of need, no tuition fees, house building and school replacement, improvements in health in some areas, increased nursery care and personal care, the new bridge and the removal of tolls, to free parking at most NHS sites, to the environment. A lot to like for sure given the constraints of the devolution settlement.

    But there have been high profile errors or mistakes in the eyes of many people. Curriculum for Excellence continues to confuse young people and parents. Police Scotland hasn’t been the resounding success that many had hoped, esp around local accountability and some others like NHS 24 and 999 around ambulance times, local authority funding etc. But more recently this has become a bigger concern with things like the Gender Reform Act and the Hate Crimes Act that appear to alienate a large section of the Scottish electorate and have been designed to placate an increasingly but influential intolerant minority within the SNP. That same minority that many view as being behind the recent failed attempt to destroy Alex Salmond, a hero and patriot to many within the yes movement.

    The SNP have also been given three mandates to pursue another referendum on independence by the electorate. However, the focus has been on Brexit and saving England from itself, even today this policy continues to the increasing frustration of many SNP voters. As noted already they have spend how much money and time on the issues of gender and taking Alex Salmond to court to the detriment of the fight to restore Scotland sovereignty. Many SNP voters, myself included, are very apprehensive about people like Pete Wishart, Angus Robertson, Alyn Smith, Nicola Sturgeon (to a degree) and what their objectives actually are and lean more towards Angus MacNeil and Joanna Cherry as being the true face of the fight for independence.

    In the last week we have seen a new party form in Scotland, ISP (Independence for Scotland Party) and how some in the leadership of the SNP like Pete Wishart have taken to this idea, let alone the anger from many party members of the SNP. The impression that has come across is that many in the SNP are more interested in power than the fight for Scotland’s independence, the very reason the SNP exists. The SNP is in real danger of starting to look like the Labour Party in Scotland of old, the established order who will stamp on any dissent as quickly and strongly as they can. Its very difficult for a smaller new party to succeed as we have seen with the SSP and Rise, and I would personally prefer to see a party under the YES Scotland banner but for the SNP and many in it’s membership to attack a pro independence party with independence being it’s sole aim stinks of something not being right in the SNP.

    When you add on the Alex Salmond affair and the perceived collusion of the leadership in the SNP of the failed attacks on him you have a party that is now being perceived as out of touch with the grass roots of the wider YES movement and not being in step with independence as quickly as possible. The SNP appearing to accept the unionist NO to another referendum and basically stomping up and down hoping for a unionist change of mind while not coming up with a plan B or even considering that we might have to discuss the elephant in the room which is UDI again will frustrate the very voters they depend on. Right now the SNP for me are a means to an end but my vote is no longer guaranteed and if a decent alternative YES party comes along, one led by Alex Salmond for example, then my vote is up for grabs and that is the fault of the SNP.

  27. Pingback: The SNP (Response to the Rise of the SNP) | Grumpy Scottish Man

  28. Grouse Beater says:

    My essay is all the better for your analysis, GS. Most welcome. 🙂

  29. Daibhidh MacRuaidhri says:

    The First Minister needs to resign or be removed from office. All the accolades and gosh isn’t she a great leader in a crisis platitudes don’t change the fact that her chief of staff was shown to have perjured herself in an attempt to incarcerate someone who is perceived as a threat. What has transpired is beyond wickedness and it is incomprehensible how The FM continues on, virus or no virus. She is a self serving fraud and a shameless hypocrite of the highest order.

  30. twathater says:

    Thank you GB for this post , like others on here I have lived through your history lesson and it is one of the reasons that such anger is being displayed against NS and the SNP for the continued BROKEN PROMISES , we the Scottish people have done what was asked of us , given the SNP our votes , yet they have and are continuing to ignore the growing outrage felt by the independence movement in their failure to fulfil their side of the contract .

    Although I am pleased that a new party is being formed ( the IfSP ) and I will certainly vote for them , I am still concerned that the open contempt and denigration shown by certain officials within the SNP will continue within the parliament when elected

  31. twathater says:

    Sorry I also meant to say I echo the comment made by
    May 16, 2020 at 12:57 pm
    This should be part of the curriculum in schools to outline the travails in getting to where we are

  32. Grouse Beater says:

    Thank you Twathater. Much appreciated.

  33. Paul Watson says:

    Explain why the SNP are at 54% in the polls then indeed they have never been so popular. The other parties would give there eye teeth to have such support!

  34. Grouse Beater says:

    You talk of SNP support, but when does it translate into independence, the core existence of the SNP?

    Polls show the split is 50-50%. Support for independence swings a few points in either direction month by month. It is high now because some people think Nicola is better at handling the pandemic crisis than bumbling Boris.

    The figures have hovered there for over two years. Nothing the SNP does – probably because the current hierarchy does nothing – pushes the percentage to a rock steady number over 50%, or the new, improved, anti-democratic ‘required’ 60% minimum some SNP MPs say we must achieve before they feel confident.

    To make matters worse, if there was a referendum tomorrow, and the SNP said it would disband if it won a Yes vote (as was once in their manifesto), and after it negotiated terms for autonomy, a Panelbase survey established some SNP members will NOT vote for independence.

    I repeat: a majority of the membership won’t vote for independence. The SNP in power is more important that sovereignty. This could be because the party is infiltrated by a great number of the left-wing and radicals keen on other policies.

    Even if you reject this paradox, Paul, if it really was 54% for self-governance you should be asking the SNP why it does not find an alternative route to independence other than Section 30.

  35. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    “I repeat: a majority of the membership won’t vote for independence.” With one sentence the rest of this is blown out of the water. Utter and total rubbish.

  36. Grouse Beater says:

    Dave, I am quoting from a poll taken among members. Not my poll, not my view, but significant. at the time.

  37. twathater says:

    Yes GB you are correct that poll was conducted and posted by Stuart Campbell on WOS, the results were quite unsettling and worrying but that poll should be no surprise to DMH as he was a regular on WOS
    Dave MH has always been a proponent and activist for independence for which I thank him and his endeavours but what is confounding is when people like him who have believed so much in independence for OUR country can be so obtuse when it comes to entrusting and believing an individual whose very actions belay that ambition

    Trust is a two way street Dave we have done our bit it’s now up to NS to do hers

  38. Grouse Beater says:

    Much appreciate the intervention, Twathater. I did recognise DMH’s name , not the anger. I knew him as a Wings regular.

    I understand people’s hopes dented when contrary evidence appears to their beliefs, but dismissing surveys out of hand is anti-reason. If Wings is adept at anything, it is asking the right question at the right time. How sad to dislike one blog out of many only to denounce everything Wings has done.

  39. DHM is a regular on Facebook and comes up with some awful nonsense. He is one of those “Nicola has a clever but secret plan” very sad sheep and he will never change.

  40. Grouse Beater says:

    My wife and I have met and talked to Nicola twice in past years, once when she was Alex’s deputy, and more recently when she was First Minister. Both times were hard going. I never detected any warmth though I have written generously about her in three essays. I do not believe in venerating elected representatives. They have to earn our respect.

    I reached the conclusion some while back that Nicola is capable of settling for a federal solution, no matter how many times she tells us she is a dyed in the wool independence supporter. It is our job to tell her she is on the wrong path, not hers to decide what is best for us.

  41. twathater says:

    As you say Gareth when brexit discussions were taking place Nicola was quick to propose to Treeza that the SG were happy to accept brexit if Scotland were allowed to participate in the EU marketplace something which she had NO mandate to propose , thankfully Treeza declined which only confirmed Nicola’s weakness and capitulation
    Like you I venerate NO politician or party they are paid handsomely to do a job , unfortunately it is a job which most of them FAIL MISERABLY at

  42. Grouse Beater says:

    “Nicola was quick to propose to Treeza (Theresa May) that the Scottish Government were happy to accept Brexit if Scotland were allowed to participate in the EU marketplace – something which she had NO mandate to propose.”

    This should be widely disseminated, because those like myself recalling the moment might have forgotten it or not understood its monumental significance.

  43. twathater says:

    TBH Gareth that’s why I frequent WOS, as not only as you say Stuart Campbell’s forensic investigation but also many of the posters revelations

  44. epicyclo says:

    As Scots we believe we as people are sovereign. Westminster agrees, as in its acceptance of the validity of the Claim of Right.

    But does the SNP really believe that? Or does it exist to keep a lid on us exercising that?

    If we truly are sovereign, then why does the SNP not behave as if we are sovereign and revoke the Treaty of Union because of the multiple breaches?

    Then have a confirmatory referendum or election afterwards to decide do we want to construct a new treaty with England or not.

    A referendum/election in which we, as an independent country, could prevent foreign controlled parties participating.

    I’ve looked at the long list of countries which gained independence from the USSR, and they struck while the USSR was in turmoil. The world was happy to recognise their independence, so why can the SNP not follow this route while the UK is in turmoil with CoVid and Brexit?

    As a lifelong SNP voter, I fear they are going the way of the other Home Rule parties, ie Labour and Libs, a hundred years of the “time is not right” because of this emergency or that.

    The time is never right, but it’s rarely been righter than right now, ie this month, before Boris gets replaced due to ‘ill health’.

    2021 will be my last vote for them unless I see actual action on independence.

  45. I believe that we are coming to the crossroads very soon. Joanna Cherry, QC, has spoken in the HoC & has said that if the IM Bill is passed, then it breaches the ToU. So please, anyone, feel free to help me with this, but… does passing this bill signify we will be INDEPENDENT, as per Joanna Cherry? If this Bill is passed & signed off by the Queen, does that not essentially mean WM has, themselves, dissolved the union? Meaning we do NOT have to have a Sec.30 and DO NOT need an Independence Referendum. WM has basically declared the union is OVER.

    From that moment of the Queen ratifying the bill, we are independent, we tell WM our taxes & other revenue WILL NOT, henceforth be shuttling ‘Down South’ to fill WM coffers. We start right away to work as though we are independent. Because that is precisely what we will be.

    Certainly, it won’t be quite as straightforward as that, I’m sure. But it will be a case of standing our ground, facing up to the bullies who will try to manipulate us with the use of lies & bluster & pretense that they know more about the sovereignty of the Scots than they really do. We have to insist they PROVE we are still their chattels. We insist they find and show us the appropriate laws, & treaties that PROVE once the union is broken, we must still serve them. Treaties have been broken umpteen times in the past, yes – because we have had unionists in charge of Scotland, happy to let these transgressions pass. NO MORE. they are no longer in charge. We DO NOT let the signing of the Internal Market Bill pass without challenging it! Joanna Cherry, I think, will not let that happen.

    I believe, also, we will be able to count on the assistance of the EU & UN this time. Neither group will be quite inclined to support a regime that breaks International Treaties without so much as a by your leave. Please ~ is anyone seeing this, as an opportunity, the way I am?

  46. Grouse Beater says:

    What other conclusion can be adduced, Tarisgal? Is Westminster going to argue there are degrees of breaking a treaty, they can nibble at the edges and it leave it intact? What court working on democratic principles will endorse that argument? How far does Westminster have to go to create a profound breach of trust? You either dishonour the tenets of the Treaty or you do not.

  47. Thank you, GB! All over Twitter I am seeing people angry and scared & demanding SNP DO SOMETHING! And I’m sitting, NO! I’m hoping the Bill passes! And I wondered ~ am I the only one seeing the opportunity here???

    I really was beginning to doubt what the signing of that Bill seems to represent and thought perhaps I was being stupid and/or thinking in too simple terms! Even folks I have high regard for (and STILL DO, may I quickly add!) and consider clever, are writing screeds about what we do if the Bill passes, how we get a Sec.30/set up an IndyRef & people agonising it won’t be recognised by WM… and I’m thinking, “But… but… the signing of that Bill means THE UNION IS OVER! Why are you beating your breasts about ‘the end of HR’?” It probably won’t be quite as simple as I’m putting it, but it surely is going in a good, forward movement re getting that independence! I do believe we’re going to have to be VERY STRONG & not let the bullies convince us the signed Bill DOESN’T mean what it does. But with the aid of the EU & the UN coming to our party, I do think we can swing this!

    Thank you for your comments, GB. It’s reassuring to know I’m not imagining what I think is happening.


  48. Sounds legitimate to me, Tarisgal.
    However, just as a S30 has somehow become precedent for Scotland’s holding of a referendum, if all of our MPs should acquiesce to the ways of Westminster, instead of simply walking out, then we’re back to square-one.

    We must now pressure our representatives – those MPs, MEPs and MSPs of the SNP – to quit this union as an illegal precedent is being set by the English.
    The longer we tolerate this shambles, the more impotent we become (have become). Act now, or we’re lost for a considerably long time.

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