The SNP’s Moral Stance


“Stop Brexit”: the wrong slogan at the wrong time for the wrong reasons

An act of resistance is a moral act. When you take a moral stance, you are acting out of conscience. Your imperative, your motivation is to attain justice for a group or an individual, not for the political or the material or for self. You follow your conscience not because you seek personal advancement, but because the act is right. It is a courageous stance. Arraigned against the forces of the power elite and the corrupt, integrity can often make you the loser, denounced by the mob. Fear of reprisal makes cowards of us all. Strength of moral resolve makes us powerful.

The big easy

I don’t much admire the shoot-out coda in detective and political thrillers. Surrounded by villains with guns, the hero has no choice but to shoot his way to freedom. On the other hand, when the villain tells the hero he can have a quiet life by taking the bribe and walking away and the hero declines, he knows his pursuit of justice means his career and possibly life is in jeopardy. His decision is a moral decision, a decision far more courageous and admirable than loading bullets into a handgun.

A morally strong political party welcomes dissent because it has no fear of the democratic system. The party seeks out new ideas, new ways of seeing. When the SNP chase Brexit and every half-baked policy it can think up on a dreich day, causing consternation among its membership, it is non-threatening moral act to ask the Party to concentrate on pursuing their core goal, reinstatement of nationhood, first and foremost for the common good. And yet, and yet this can get you into trouble.

The moral act

Our conscience guides almost everything we do. It sustains our integrity and empowers others. When we refuse to surrender to totalitarian capitalism we make moral choices. When a company pollutes the land, it is a moral choice to report it to the authorities. When a trade union exploits its workers for political gain, and uses its power to undermine a nation’s right to self-determination, it is a moral act of resistance to criticise the union’s leadership. When the SNP fails to protect its supporters against malicious denunciation and actually endorses the injustice, resistance to their crass judge and jury affirms the sanctity of human rights. 

In iterating that principle of resistance, and the moral faith at its core, I am forced to ask why the SNP has all but dumped the cause of Scotland’s liberty. And it has done it to the extent it silences its very own adherents at the drop of an evil accusation by its political opponents, the same who are the oppressors of democracy.

An urgent truth

We face an urgent truth. Those who hold power in the United Kingdom have no respect for the democratic system. They demonstrate that time and time again. What they do exhibit in word and actions is neo-fascism, the right for one class of people to govern and to do it by immoral, illegal and oppressive rule.

By failing to release the pent up energy in the electorate to regain Scotland’s place in the world, by not harnessing the resounding support the SNP gained at the ballot box, by ignoring multiple mandates, and worse, not exploiting the May-Boris-Cummings axis, the current SNP is losing the opportunity to make significant structural changes for the better in our society. This is unforgivable.

Inertia is not a strategy. Watching people torn from their homes and repatriated and doing nothing is not the moral example of a nation supposedly acting in everybody’s best interests. Overseeing a nation’s constitutional rights attacked with impunity, passivity is a crime. 

A gift squandered

A hand full of aces left to Scottish aspirations for self-governance in the aftermath of the 2014 referendum has been ineptly played. This, despite the commanding electoral success, the electoral landslides enjoyed by Nicola Sturgeon, gifted by voters from all sections of society, and not all of them Scots by birth.

The criticism levied at Holyrood can also be levied at SNP MPs at Westminster. What do the SNP think they can achieve waffling to their heart’s content in the Chamber of Horrors now that the British state is in the hands of the ultra-right?

What strategy was Angus Robertson pursuing, and now Ian Blackford, each without a plan, standing in impotent defiance of a sniggering front bench of Tory millionaires and useless Labour faux apparatchiks? The highlight of their week seems prime minister’s question time! Has no one told SNP MPs that the television cameras cut away to the broadcasting studio as soon as the Speaker shouts their name?

Sovereignty cannot be sold

Scotland’s sovereignty is still intact. It is almost impossible for any country to part with its sovereignty. It can loan a modicum of self-reliance in, say, a trading agreement. Most countries do that. You give us a share of your goods and we will give you a share of our minerals; invest in my nation and I will buy some of your country’s debt bonds.

In any event, the people of Scotland are sovereign, ergo, their government cannot relinquish sovereignty in an agreement with another nation. Unlike England, where sovereignty is invested in the parliament, the Scottish government is not sovereign. It does not have the power to sign away something it does not own.

Sovereignty remains with the people. That indelible, irrevocable constitutional right was enhanced by the Salmond-Cameron signing of the 2014 referendum on independence. In fact, the Edinburgh Agreement of 2012 was no more a retreat from Scottish sovereignty than Robert the Bruce sealing the Treaty of Northampton in 1328.

This resurgence of idealism and hope that arrived after losing Scotland’s first full plebiscite on our destiny was based on the transformation in Scottish thought and attitude provoked by that very referendum process. And yet Scotland’s second Enlightenment is in danger of betrayal by an apprehensive SNP.

The movement for democratic rights is in a stasis partly of our own making. We lost the referendum well warned the British state would take revenge on our resistance to a corrupt London rule. The British state is brutal, without moral imperative.

The Labour party, in league with the Tories, lied to Scotland. Witness dissembler Blair McDougall on BBC Question Time telling us Boris Johnson would never be elected as prime minister. He is representative of all the others in the Better Together band of liars, slow-witted, self-serving, desperate to stop Scotland getting more democracy. We watched them scream in triumph, but we did not lose our sovereignty. That is inviolable, and that is what they want to overturn. Their answer is to resurrect devolution maximum for the umpteenth time, a tired, vague trope. And now they see opportunism in the pandemic. They hope to use it as a weapon of repression.

The great SNP sloth

We are where we are because the SNP has not pushed the momentous advantage gifted by the electorate in successive mandates. Nicola Sturgeon is a victim of her own self doubt, hiding behind an inane slogan, ‘The Gold Standard’. When the journalist Iain Macwhirter announced that Nicola Sturgeon had “kicked independence into touch” he got booed, and no doubt a few hundred angry tweets from SNP faithful. But he was right.

It is not affront to the SNP’s standing, or any individual in it, for that matter, to criticise SNP policy, or offer alternative solutions.

No act of resistance to London rule is a waste of time. No speech, no march, no  newspaper article, no blog site, no sit down protest, no placard, no press release, no tweet, no flags on bridges, no outrage expressed at neo-liberal tyranny. But coming from the SNP resistance has to be, must be, coordinated and consistent. Chasing squirrels takes a lot of energy with people running off in all directions simultaneously.

Our opponents are scared

What worries the opponents of greater democracy is, people are past the stage of thinking they need persuading independence should happen. They now know it can happen. Any number of English pundits have said independence is only a matter of time. That day might speed up by the way England has swung to authoritarian rule but what damage will have been done to Scotland in the meantime?

The power elite have spent the last three decades and more organising the obliteration of liberalism. They have abused the tolerance of liberalism to destroy liberalism. The repulsive pockmarked Steve Bannons of this world curb equality and justice by appealing to the worst qualities in human nature. They aim to indoctrinate the disenfranchised, the disaffected and the uneducated with a bitterness of the democratic system. Once that is accomplished power will be in the total control of the right-wing.

The notion Scotland might attain its liberty is both a challenge and a warning to them. They took out the European Union from the UK political system, now they have to take out Scotland too, the one nation in the UK determined to remain European and to exercise free will. 

The SNP strategy

What is the SNP doing to counter this onslaught? Barracking Tory tyranny? Showing the aloof secretary of state to be a thumping ignorant dunce? None of those things. They smear autonomy’s strongest voices. They squander our money on show trials. With muddled domestic policies they cut off rational discourse that upsets them. They spurn anger and block dissent, hoping things that happen outside Scotland will save them the trouble of doing anything inside Scotland to secure self-determination. Their adoption of gradualism is defeatist and fatal.

To step outside your comfort zone to gain an ideal wished by the masses is to live in the fullest sense of the word. You exhibit a determination to exist as a free and independent human being. To abandon self in a campaign to defend an ideal or an individual is a noble, honourable pursuit. You cannot measure resistance as if it has monetary value. To resist those that enslave us, that cause us hardship and pain, is a just cause.

Taking all that into account, I have to say in sadness, that the SNP has lost its way. Why did they elevate the status of the European Brexit argument out of any reasonable context and make it of far greater importance to the pursuit of Scotland’s freedoms? Brexit is an all-England issue. We had no choice but to state how it will damage Scotland’s economy and remove our human rights, but dedicate an entire two years and more of an SNP campaign to reverse it? England in chaos and we offered to down tools to help? Somewhere in there lies over 300 years of a colonial mentality. 

This paradox was exemplified by the polar opposite bus to Boris’s red NHS coach. Our bright yellow campaign coach had ‘Stop Brexit’ on the side of it when common sense told us it ought to have read “Independence Now!”

The SNP tree needs shaken violently to rid it of infestation, the deadheads pruned.



This entry was posted in Scottish Independence Referendum, Scottish Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to The SNP’s Moral Stance

  1. Ian Gilman says:

    Well said, Grouse Beater. We need more voices like yours speaking up.

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    I feel like the army captain in Monty Python saying the whole SNP sketch is getting far too silly. Move on. 🙂

  3. Derek Cameron says:

    Thanks for this calm and rational demolition job. The SNP playing nice and competently administering a shrinking range of responsibilities will never secure Scotland’s independence. The little helpers of the UK on the fast track to pariah state will win no prizes.
    After ( if ever ) Covid 19 is suppressed there will be another crisis along to manage and keep independence ( the sole reason for the SNP’s existence ) on the back burner. A big change is required.

  4. diabloandco says:

    Thank you , so true and so in need of saying over and over again.

    Keep well.

  5. Matthew Vallance says:

    That’s better Grousie – back on form and bang on the money.

  6. Grouse Beater says:

    Not easy to write, but needed expressed. Onward!

  7. Indy Chas says:

    Very well said. I agree 100%. The SNP seem terrified of putting their head above the parapet for fear of being shot down by the biased media. What they don’t seem to realise is that this is eating away at the core desire of independence, better to drive for independence and use the inevitable media bias to wind up the movement. I have said many times the SNP seem to wait on things outside their control for something magical to happen instead of generating the energy for indepencence. Support for independence would soar well above 60% if they just get their finger out!

  8. Grouse Beater says:

    The sad thing is, I have no idea how they managed to manoeuvre themselves into the situation, a space so toxic I regret I was once a member.

  9. ‘When a trade union exploits its workers for political gain, and uses its power to undermine a nation’s right to self-determination, it is a moral act of resistance to criticise the union’s leadership’

    Were you writing about Trade Union leadership being subverted to make life easier for the Brits (&Boses)
    Obliquely about SNP Leadership


    If the cap fits… substitute ‘Party’ for ‘trade union’ and the sentence still rings true

  10. Grouse Beater says:

    For the Brits, Douglas. I don’t know which year some British unions decided Scotland should be suppressed as a nation state, its people robbed of free will. The Treaty says ‘a Union of partnerships’ not subservience.

  11. grumpydubai says:

    Grousebeater – Thank you. On the ball synopsis of our situation. Agree with comments from your contributors too.

    Now let us get the Thinkers and Do-ers together and form a proper opposition at every level of society and within the political spectrum.

    Time is of the essence.

  12. imacg says:

    Great article. If change is coming it needs to happen fast. We surely can’t expect to roll into next year, post no-deal brexit, and expect to have fair and democratic elections, then keep trundling on. I think the tree needs shaken fast and a reset made – Indy Now has to be the agenda. I’m also for suspending the union immediately, once the no-deal brexit happens (end of the month?), but also on the basis of being taken out of Europe against our will as a country – yes, we need to start thinking and acting like a country – not a colony. I fear the current leadership will be sitting polishing their gold standard as the door gets slammed shut on us and bolted. We need action now, and to hell with covid. Great job, but there are bigger fish to fry and demons to slay, and they are not waiting around or hiding behind the pandemic – they are in full flow, making their moves while we sit tight waiting for them to play fair.

  13. Grouse Beater says:

    I have retweeted your ‘we need to think and act like a country’ essentially my message. Thank you, Imacg.

  14. Muscleguy says:

    I think the Stop Brexit campaign was part misguided attempt to woo No Remainers and part a way of kicking independence into the long grass lest it disturb their comfortable sinecures. Besides, building a new country, establishing new ministries, deciding which union laws to keep, which to discard. Writing, consulting, passing needed new bills after bills. Explaining to the people what you are doing and why. Why we need a clearout at PQ to make an SBC. We shan’t have the quislings inside taken out and shot, just issued with P45s (or however we decide to redesignate them) and directed to the train doon sooth in the hope Aunty will still want house Jocks post independence. Maybe they could have careers explaining to the English what we are doing wrong, as if they will care.

  15. ndls61 says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Ian that we need to think and act more like a country and I share the sense of frustration and betrayal so eloquently expressed in your article. Since abandoning the SNP as a direct result of its treatment of your case I’ve watched in horror as the party has disappeared down an ideological rabbit hole. Sadly I see little hope of progress any time soon. If anything I’m beginning to lose heart in the process. I’m unconvinced that a list-only party will reach the escape velocity required to challenge the SNP, or indeed that the 2021 Holyrood election will achieve anything in face of British nationalist intransigence, irrespective of the outcome.

    I see folk were getting excited about the Scot Goes Pop’s poll reported in the Herald showing Yes at 52%, but my immediate reaction is that if the current political and economic bin fire results in a bare majority, the movement as a whole is in deep trouble.

    If the response of Scots to brexit, Covid-19 and Dominic Cummings is 52% in a poll and the SNP being content to follow the “softly, softly” strategy favoured by Pete Wishart and his ilk, I’m not at all sure I’ll see an independent Scotland in my liefetime.

    I sincerely hope I’m wrong of course, but as I walked through the grounds of the National Galleries the other day I looked up at the artwork proclaiming “There Will Be No Miracles Here” and felt a chill.

  16. The achievement of Independence is not a switch to be flicked on or off. It’s a process, with advances and setbacks, but with a positive flow leading to emancipation.
    But curiously, it’s a switch each of us, as citizens, requires to flick; and once switched on, is unlikely to switch off.
    The idea might be better understood by looking at another emotive subject: racism. I think it’s fair to say George Floyd’s murder has flicked a lot more switches in the past week than in the last 50 years. It’s those individual changes in attitude which bring about changes in society. If you try to do it the other way around, it attracts something altogether different: totalitarianism.
    Strangely enough, your excellent article is all part of that switch flicking. Independence will be helped along by policies, by politicians, by political parties, by events and yes, by inspiring prose. Not one of them will achieve freedom on its own, but each voice and conscience surely will.
    In the words of that great philosopher, Doris Day: “Que sera, sera”.

  17. Hugh Wallace says:

    Superb, as always, GB. I too regret ever joining the SNP. I don’t regret leaving it after what they did to you (though that was just the final straw).

    I just don’t understand how it has all gone so horribly wrong. The SNP is full of the same good people I worked alongside in 2014 yet…

    So, so frustrating. I am dusting off my NZ passport again.

  18. Grouse Beater says:

    I think I can answer your question, Hugh. As time went by, Nicola surrounded herself with bad advisers and hangers-on. They do the minimum, she thinks that’s the maximum. I am of a like mind with those, historian Tom Devine included, who feel independence will come from England not from Scotland. We are too colonised to break the 55% ceiling. The English political system is in a state of disintegration; we want for a water-tight strategy that takes advantage of this self-destruction.

  19. Brian Macfarlane says:

    I couldn’t agree with that superb polemic any stronger than I do mo charaid. You’re right It is past the thinking, we’re all onto Knowing.

  20. peeliewallie says:

    Superb article. You’re really on top form here but I’m afraid I’m still in a state of despair regarding any hope of independence in my lifetime. I just have the sort of feeling a swimmer must have when he can see the shore within reach but the currents are too strong against him.

  21. Julia Gibb says:

    The focus on Brexit baffled me!

    India stopped their fight for Independence for WW2. Ireland suspended theirs for WW1. What did the Empire do – they said “suckers”
    France told Indochina stop for WW2 and we will talk later mugs.

    Brexit talks – Scotland ignored. Brexit vote in Scotland ignored.
    We ask nicely for a Referendum and are ignored.

    We are up against the most experienced street fighter in the World and we are being polite and courteous. When has that ever worked?

  22. Angry Weegie says:

    Sad but true and they are still doing it with the publication on 3rd June of a paper making the case for extending the Brexit timetable. See my rant at

  23. Andrew Coulson says:

    Quiz Question:
    Who prayed “O, Boris — make us Independent: but not yet!” ?

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