The SNP is wrestling with a fundamental crisis of its own making, a profound loss of trust by the public in its honesty and methods, a crisis that that has spilled over onto its ability to secure independence, the principle it was entrusted to achieve. How it arrived at this situation is not the stuff of this analytical essay. Leadership is the subject, why we look to leadership for guidance, and why, when they are in a pickle, a leader’s authority can evaporate, we are blamed and become cynical about politicians.
To understand why we choose leaders, rather than decisions made by group and referenda, means going back a few thousand years of human history to see how leaders were formed and identified.
Down from the trees
Man has come a long way since he dropped down from the trees to venture out of his safety zone and sight of his group. (It might have been a woman, but not if protecting children.) In the journey he took he aquired survival skills, knowledge of things around him, a path to follow to the river and water, but not, it seems, develop an acute intellectual capacity. Listening to some people argue politics suggests we prefer to hold tight to our prejudices, beliefs, blind faith, myths, and received wisdom, in comparison to curiosity, challenge and new ways of seeing.
The first to abandon the safety of a tree at night and risk meeting a predatory animal, will have appeared fearless, perhaps reckless, to those still up the tree. When he first fashioned a spear to hunt and for protection, the group would have marvelled, the same when he lit a fire from flint, and fashioned a wheel. Given preference to tell the others what to do in their best interest, who should sleep under the tree in the midday heat, who should stand guard, they probably thought him clever, a good protector. He anticipated trouble and he helped them prepare for it.
Next came living in caves. The Paleolithic family who moved to a cave for shelter as a safe place to live, eat, sleep, concieve and bring up children, probably guarded it from other families, habital caves being in short supply. This, you could say, was the origins of the property owning society, only it was not a society then. It became a society as we know it once groups of families chose to inhabit a series of caves, man-made or natural, like those on cliff escarpments where ladders are needed to reach the first level, a method of protection from predatory animals and roaming hunters with clubs out to steal stored winter grain.
Once the mini-society was formed, a group leader emerged, someone who decided when to plant seed corn and when to harvest it, when fish were plentiful and when to gather berries from the woods. There may also have appeared a shaman, the man respected for knowing the reason of things, sickness, death, the afterlife, interpretating visions, bad weather and the night sky. A shaman would ask for rituals to create rain for parched crops, or to keep evil spirits away. Today, we call them political parties.
Hunting fast-moving food soon identified the one man who had worked out how to trap a wounded woolly mammoth in a pit, kill it there and then with spear and rock, and not be crushed by it face-to-face. His skill recognised, he gained ardent followers, gifts, special priviledges, first to eat regular meals, his protection the group’s incentive.
Those he led would feel lost and afraid if he died suddenly, or vanished from the group. If that happened they looked for another who showed similar courage and skills. The beginning of the charismatic hunter warrior began to take shape in minds, admiration for bravery painted on cave walls, often signed by membership card – a berry-stained palm print.
At some point, group superstition became a cult where people were put to work fashioning stone circles assumed to be special safe spiritual places, the origins of religion. One day a group member saw power in religion, not for the good of the community but for himself. He claimed to speak on behalf of the spirits in the sky.
In time, this organisation of the herd evolved into organised religion, with places of worship for the local society to pay allegiance to an unseen god or gods as an act of loyalty, a sanctuary some found a comforting illusion.
Social cohesion began with loyalty to a group, and moved on over time to tribes, and in Scotland’s case, clans. Though Scotland’s clans are often depicted as tribes constantly at war with each other, stealing cattle and valued possessions, the truth is much nearer a Scotland that found ways for small, self-supporting societies to co-exist. What can be said is, each clan had its own ways and means and guarded their traditions with pride.
Loyalty took the form of allegience to the clan. Your children took the name of the clan chief. The community looked after each other, and poetry, song and games arose from a sense of belonging. Food was bred in herding cattle, ground tilled for planting oats; people shared what they had. Clan loyalty saw you receive benefits in kind, protection, a roof over your head, a longer life than foraging for yourself, but the freedoms Paleolithic man enjoyed were not the same as those a Scottish clan held important.
Enter the exploiters and slave traders
One day, communities, profuse and widely scattered, decided power should be centralised. It reduced the wayward from causing chaos. Someone was crowned overlord or king, the tribes told to unite under his tutelage, servants of his domain. This was a new kind of loyalty, not based on territorial affinity, or family or race, but on identity of creed. Promises were made of equality, but not for the overlords, they were above all that.
Through time, the communities grew larger and became nations. A few, like Scotland, protected their territory against malicious incursion, Scotland against the Romans (when we were Picts), and then against English invasion, Vikings in between times.
Bigger nations took to war against smaller nations, to boost their wealth and conquer new lands, nations less organised, just as tribes did in distant times. The wars, which like all wars, started as attempts at extermination, gradually became campaigns of conquest. Loyalty was given to a general on the field of battle and then to a monarch.
The vanquished were not put to death (unlike Cumberland’s slaughter of Scots after the battle of Culloden), but instead were made slaves, or became the workers for the conquering nation. In all cases, loyalty to the victor was paramount, all sorts of sanctions and even imprisonment landed on the heads of dissidents or the rebellious.
Soon there were two sets of communities, those who remembered the old, freer ways, and those happy to adopt the new ways of their colonial masters.
The Scottish National Party Community
The Scottish National Party has always been a gathering of unlike minds yet settled on one single ideal, reinstating the freedoms of Scotland. It is a party of individuals from different social backgrounds with different life priorities, save one, the shared imperative of self-governance.
England, lost for an empire, plays contact sports with its neighbours as if they are its empire. In effect, Scotland remains a modern slave nation, thoroughly colonised to a degree that is both subtle and glaringly obvious.
Unfortunately, it is not obvious to many people in Scotland who feel they enjoy full freedoms, they can choose a car, which shop to buy produce, dress as they wish, choose the school for their children’s education, and pick and choose their leisure activities, none of which constitutes political freedom. Those are mere consumer choices, choices determined by manufacturers, corporate entities and advertising companies.
Happiness in the hands of the venal
Ever since the advent of slavery, the powerful have assumed their happiness is dependent on inflicting misery on the rest of us. Contemporary England is no different.
Staying in modern times for historical example, Scotland was offered a faux democracy, three political parties all intent on retaining the status quo, that is, power residing in their neighbour state, expressly London. It was if Sir William Wallace and Robert the Bruce never existed, never achieved a furlong of rights for Scotland.
English power saw no issue in the destruction of Scotland’s ship building industry or its steel industry. It did not recoil from using Scotland as a guinea pig for the Poll Tax experiment. More recently, it used an advisory referendum to haul Scotland from centuries association with our European neighbours. It obstructs Scotland’s exports to the east and to the west. It removes over sixty percent of Scotland’s wealth annually, imposes alien policies that cause hardship and premature death, and tells our inhabitants to be happy with our lot. England leads, Scotland must follow. Whom so ever is elected UK prime minister expects the dignity of his office is respected.
Today, under the Tory party, an England society is geared to destroy the legitimate hope of Scotland, a Scotland that wants to create a society that has as many outlets as possible to create joy and pride and splendour to human activity. This is what Westminster calls bad leadership.
Leaders are needed but not irreplaceable
Those profound impositions demand an elected leader of Scotland who is politically astute, fearless, and above all morally courageous. Scots prefer individual liberty, not conformity. England talks of ‘the country’, the state. The ‘state’ is an abstract concept. It does not feel pain or anxiety. The state, when you look closely, is nothing more than a governing minority. Call it the Tory party if you like.
The SNP finds itself in a crisis of its own making, faced by internal warfare among its own politicians and civil servants, while confronted by an England flexing its strength as if back in the imperialist 18th century. The party wants loyalty irrespective of how badly the party is performing. But a leader is the means to an end, not the end in itself.
History shows us some leaders can be good, some plainly disasterous and murderous. Who to trust? The leader to trust is usually the one preaching a society that brings happiness to the majority, not the few. As in all societies, we transfer our hopes and dreams to a leader, essentially an unhealthy indentification because human nature can let us down.
This is what analytical philosophy calls the ‘administrator’s fallacy’. By that I mean, people who think society is a systematic whole, parts held together like a jigsaw. Pull the pieces apart and cohesion is lost. (This was JK Rowlings argument, only she talked of threads and weave.)
To explain in party terms: in return for voter loyalty to the party, the party will secure benefits for the membership. This is a mechanical outlook. It is for the individuals and their communities, not the whole, that ultimate value is sought.
I mean, if a farmer in Barra is caught in a freezing winter’s gale, it isn’t the politician in Edinburgh who feels the cold. A political party is elected to seek ways to provide what it has promised the electorate, cheap housing and fuel, for example, but once in governance and set in its ways, deaf to the electorate, not open to spontaneity, it soon dismisses new ideas unless you are a loyal member delivering the approved message. The leadership wants to keep the old ways, youth to institute new ways.
The expression ‘troughers’ aimed at MPs who have become lazy and unproductive, has some truth to it. If in governance too long, they can forget what life is like for the rest of us as they shuffle papers on their desk, and sit at interminable committee meetings. vision and energy expended. They end up trying to fit people to the system, than fit the system to the people.
What I am saying is, the primitive instinct for adventure constrained, curiousity and the hunt obstructed, people will demand an outlet. Ours is independence, a free nation. We have had over 300 years of limits placed on Scotland, culturally, economically and in international relations. Our democracy is hobbled, ersatz, a copy of England’s, so watch what you say and how you say it. Do not get too adventurous.
The Tory party’s ideology and that of Labour too, is a dogmatic political creed, no different from the Communist party, or capitalism. The SNP has managed to avoid dogma because its central goal is to create a society where such creeds cannot exist. It promises to lead us not to a new land, but to a better society.
The SNP never promised reinstatement of self-governance will dispel evils. It has no false gods. What it promises is to liberate a nation so people can exercise free will, make decisions that are not derived from instruction imposed by its neighbour, create a healthy version of social cohesion. From all evidence, the current SNP administration has chased minor goals, experiments, as if intimidated by the thought of succeeding, that classic moment when in supreme victory the party leader says, ‘now what?’
‘Wheest for Indy’ is the preaching of moralists, self-discipline and cold showers, people who do not understand human nature. We have the will to reach our goal, only the folly of the party elected to achieve our hopes can trip up that quest and leave us in the bondage of an undesirable, fraudulant Union with a hostile tribe.
NOTE: This is a work in progress.
Looks like the BritNats are winning even before any referendum.
They have complete control over the media and have infiltrated the SNP at high office, why else would they ensure it was their English civil servants were installed as ‘advisers’ to the Scottish government.
Job done, wave bye bye to independence, the SNP will be ousted in May.
Fabulous. Scotland, hoisted by your neighbours’ petard, who’d if thought eh.
I know there are champions waiting on the outside for the right moment to move in, but at the moment smart enough not to step inside a party in disarray. Onward!
Gareth great article,
I was watching The Lord Of The Rings trilogy the past few days, while watching the second film The Two Towers, something in it reminded me of Scotland and the SNP
Basically the land of Rohan is Scotland
The character King Theoden is the SNP
Gandalf The White are the bloggers like you, Wings, Barrhead boy Boy, etc
And Grima Wormtongue is the Wokeratti, whispering into the ear of King Theoden, supposedly as an advisor but in reality working for someone else, Sauron, who is the GRA trsnsactivists, eventually Gandalf manages to open the eyes of King Theoden, who goes into battle against Saruman and his Orcs(Twitler Youth)
The battle goes ahead, some major casualties happen, but the link is eventually broken and King Theoden has his his eyes reopened and gets his confidence back, hopefully the casualties in this battle will be the SNP head yin’s, Sturgeon, Murrell, Blackford, Blackman, Robertson’s and the rest of the Wokus Dei , so that King Theoden can March his army to fight alongside the men of Gondor (Entire Yes Movement) to fight Saurons forces and prevail (Sauronn being Westminster)
The public are starting to be aware of detail and none I have met like what they see and hear. Thre is also a general disgust that the SNP could lose its grip on independence so easily.
Another great article GB.
Regardless of viewpoint on the subject of transexuality/transgender I found NS’ video pleading with a handful of what appear to be somewhat deranged members of the ‘T’ portion of the LGBTI community within the SNP not to leave the party mind-bogglingly bizarre and astonishing.
In addition it is an insult to all those other independence seeking SNP members who expect the leadership to at least try and deliver on its declared primary objective and raison d’être. You know, article 1 of the SNP’s constitution which states that it is the “right of the people of Scotland to self-determination and national sovereignty”.
NS says ‘I don’t care’ when it comes to making special exceptions for, and pandering to, this small sect within the party. But I’m sure tens of thousands within the SNP membership do care … just not for her set of priorities.
There seems to be much passion expressed by the leadership for sex/gender politics and none for achieving the restoration of full self government for Scotland.
Then there is the evident sleaze, corruption, dishonesty and conspiracy surrounding missing party funds, NEC gerrymandering and the Salmond/Hirst/Murray affairs.
We need to take back control of the SNP vehicle: It’s our bus, we pay the road tax, insurance and servicing. We just need to get a confident helmsman and a competent navigator – who both know how to get from A to B safely and quickly – as well as a trustworthy conductor who will honestly charge and collect the fares of its passengers.
I’d have valued the FM telling me that she appreciates all I have done for the party and the cause of freedom, and hopes I’ll rejoin the party. But I am more than content with Alex Salmond’s affirmation.
People , citizens make change , not politicians!
It is in all of us to achieve that change, regardless of politicians.
Collectively we have the strength to make those changes.
We will wash over any that hold us back.
Onwards and upwards.
I think you can trace a lot of the problems back to Alex Salmond resigning after 2014 when there was no real need to, the party then had an influx of thousands of new members and it scared them. The Executive changed the rules to consolidate power, they then elected Nicola Sturgeon as leader who very quickly started with her feminist agenda bringing in an inner circle that worshipped her and we started to see policies like AWS that alienated members like myself at that time who felt that you do not end discrimination by discriminating against others. When we expressed concern we were shouted down, even someone like myself in a mixed race family told we did not know what we were talking about. We then saw the likes of Wishart, Smith, Robertson becoming more influential and the message started to change, managerialism had taken hold and at that point I decided to resign at the start of 2016 after becoming concerned that independence was no longer the priority and that the leadership had been infected by careerism and wokism. Minority interests were taking over and the party no longer looked like a party willing to really fight. They appeased the unionists and they appeased the media, they were more concerned about losing their power than actually thinking about why the party existed in the first place.
Brexit then came along and they embarrassed themselves by both trying to save England from itself and the never ending platitudes from the increasingly shrill Blackford of we won’t be taken out of the EU against our will, really. They were laughed at in parliament and rather than take a hard line of refusing to take part in the British state in a variety of ways they embraced it, pension Pete Wishart, Blackford, Robertson and latterly Smith becoming an embarrassment to the movement. Even when they had actual influence they were afraid to use it for fear of upsetting the unionists so continued playing the Brexit game which the Tories lapped up knowing the SNP at Westminster were cowards and colonised in every way.
While this is going on they knew that many in the yes community are unhappy but understood we have no where to go. Salmond is not impressed and could make a come back and Sturgeon and her congregation appear to hatch a plan to shame him out of the picture to keep power only it back fires. They didn’t understand how much he was liked, the skills of people like yourself, Stuart Campbell and Craig Murray to keep digging to get to the truth of what was going on, they underestimated that for many of us morals matter, truth matters. They had allowed the party to be infected by their little pets and the disgusting trans lobby, a lobby supported by Nicola Sturgeon and others like Blackman, driving out many in the party by accusation but again underestimated the wider yes community, even though the unionist media had decided the current leadership was a boost to unionism no matter how many people supported yes so they left them alone to crack on. All of this supported by the civil service and some in the judiciary and Police, but again underestimating the yes community. But at least some in the yes community never let this drop.
I now believe that Sturgeon knows the writing is on the wall in the medium term and is doing as much damage as she can to ensure that at the very least she leaves behind her feminist and woke legacy, even to the extent that we might even see the likes of Joanna Cherry driven out. There will be no referendum, I have no doubt about that as long as Sturgeon and the likes of Robertson are around. They will get their majority in May but it will be their last and I don’t think they even care. I believe we have to support ISP on the list across Scotland, at the very least to put pressure on the SNP and to see if the ISP is our vehicle for moving forward. If the SNP do not deliver the referendum then we put our efforts into ISP and a more radical approach to independence, it sets us back but we may just have to accept that. Either way, even if I am way off the mark and may well be, Sturgeon, her husband and her cabal need to go for the sake of Scotland no matter what happens. If the SNP wants to save it’self it will make it happen, if not then we move on from them and put ourselves behind the likes of the ISP or others. The SNP will get my constituency vote in May but not the list vote but it is the last time they get a vote from me at national level that is for sure.
Had enough of them now, we need a party that will stand on a plebiscite for independence, a party willing to actually fight for independence, right now that is not the current leadership of the SNP. Sorry for the long post.
There is fresh talent waiting and watching in the wings, but holding back while the centre of the SNP looks corrupted. No one wants to step into that fray until its sorts itself out.
Very refreshing article, and comments, tinged with sadness at the corrosion now weakening the SNP. Never thought Id say this but I think history is going to show , as grumpyscottishman has said that Nicola has damaged the party with her feminist agenda which has gone far to far. Lesley Evans and her gang are at the helm as they head for the waterfall. It is a sad mess.
Alex Salmond should have dug in after 2014, but I think he was tired. Or did he see this coming?
Westminster just have to sit it out and wait for the bodies to pop up.
We need Alex back, and he must know that. He has the will and the courage to carry us to independence. He will have learned much these past 6 years.
There’s his retirement, good years well deserved, any illness he has, the thought of being a lonely independent MSP, the gargantuan challenge to set up a new party … all food for thought.
Another great article, thanks, Gareth. I’ve not much to add, except observing that your sentence “Unfortunately, it is not obvious to many people in Scotland who feel they enjoy full freedoms, they can choose a car, which shop to buy produce, dress as they wish, choose the school for their children’s education, and pick and choose their leisure activities, none of which constitutes political freedom.” was neatly summed up by Billy Bragg; “As long as you’re comfortable, it feels like freedom.” (“North Sea Bubble” on “Don’t Try This at Home”, 1991). It’s a phrase that has been going through my head a lot these last few years.
Those political freedoms, not ours now but should be on independence, are the things the SNP ought to have been lathering into us rather than chasing Brexit, a wholly English decision.
“Scotland remains a modern slave nation, thoroughly colonised to a degree that is both subtle and glaringly obvious”
And which is invariably the rationale for independence of most oppressed ‘peoples’. Thank goodness for Scotland’s real intellectual bloggers, such as yourself, Grouse Beater.
Interesting that you should focus on the matter of leadership, an aspect of organisational behaviour I used to research and teach. As the current SNP leadership cabal crumbles to dust, it is difficult to see a new ‘independence’ leader evolving from that party’s elite. Many still have have their favourites – Cherry, Kate somebody – and some even want to stick with a wounded and discredited Sturgeon until May at least.
I have instead tried to think of the leadership qualities needed for the task in hand, which is to deliver independence from our oppressor. This really requires someone who understands what colonial oppression is about, which would tend to exclude then the pampered bourgeoisie elite in the SNP.
And, like most of the great leaders of independence struggles, Gandhi, Mandela and so forth, these are people who have suffered most for the cause at the hands of a devious oppressor. Their commitment to the cause is unquestionable.
Let me say then that my optimal ‘leadership team’ for the independence struggle would be headed by a group of people such as Alex Salmond, Craig Murray and possibly also Tommy Sheridan, supported by whoever they wish to choose to include in their trusted group.
Only by having the right leadership team can we be sure that Scotland’s withdrawal from the UK union is being handled by those who know who they are dealing with, and what they are capable of.
Some folk seem able to accept internal rivalries, political and judicial ineptness and corruption are values we can take to a new society.
Another great article, Gareth. I just read your comment on Wings: thank you for keeping the comments section here a troll-free zone.
Question: do you think the SNP is savable? There are definitely many within the ranks who are good people but they are, perhaps, conspicuous by their silence at the moment. Are they playing a smart game or are they just too timid?
I can’t help but feel that we Scots need to learn from our Irish cousins of the 1920s who were a much bolder lot in the face of much worse oppression.