If my old pal, Frederic Lindsay was still alive, a fine novelist and independence supporter all his days, he would be shocked at the chaotic state the SNP now finds itself in, mired in vainglorious, deeply flawed, divisive policies for the few, intolerant of dissent among its ranks, fearful of pursuing its core raison de’tre, Scotland’s self-governance. The despicable hunting of Alex Salmond alone would have had him resign his membership followed by a razor-sharp letter in the Scotsman and Times. Every month Eric attended, religiously, two meetings, his local writer’s organisation, PEN, a worldwide association of writers, founded to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation, and his branch of the SNP, probably the most unfriendly gathering of disunited minds these days.
Back when we shared a drink and talked of psychological crime thrillers to adapt for the big screen, we shared the view that Stieg Larsson’s creation of Lisbeth Salander – the vengeful motorbike rider with a dragon tattoo on her back and ankle – was the most welcome invention of a modern woman fighting to take control of her own body since Emmeline Pankhurst and Dr Marie Stopes. The character was a revelation. Neither of us would raise a glass today to the ‘liberated’ activities of Nicola Sturgeon who has taken the rights of women back decades.
The loner as leader
Religious is close to ‘cult’, a noun appended to the Scottish National Party almost every day by press pundits and Twitterati alike. Well protected by her Praetorian Guard of weak men and fiery women, her disreputable husband hovering in the background, SNP account books tucked inside his underpants where no one will ever venture, Nicola Sturgeon has most definitely managed her image to such as extent the use of cult is justified.
Attached to her public persona, our first minister’s feverishly protective fans fire down lightning bolts on unbelievers. They are ferocious. What they have to say about her skills is awe inspiring. What they have to say about self-governance is reduced to SNP HQ approved slogans.
Her opponents claim she is the one undermining the move to self-reliance. Her adoring disciples claim she is without fault, the only person qualified to lead Scotland to independence. Included in that latter summation are some distinguished voices who have broken free of their normal diplomacy to make plain they don’t care about her chronic failures; she is leader incomparable.
Their sudden attacks on persistent, well-informed critics are posted in fury. I shall not dignify any by naming them. None rode to the rescue when Cherry, MacDonald, Hanvey or Salmond and other colleagues were being crucified. People can become overly-sentimental when faced by a choice of censoring an elected official whom they have known for some time. In this case, their sense of justice was non-existent. They may demand respect for the first minister, but they forfeit respect for themselves.
Of cliques, claques and cults
Attached to a political party in government, cult is troubling. It denotes an intolerance to contrary views, parochialism trumps rational discussion, evidence is rejected, a closed mind, wanting the world to mirror your narrow view of it. The act of knowing is not a joy. The cult member already knows it all. You cannot teach them a thing.
When in my twenties I studied philosophy, devoured tombs on the subject like a hungry caterpillar. I wanted to know what made us tick living in a Christian society, particularly those of us who reject the notion of a deity floating up in the sky, eternal life in the Hereafter, and a fiery well managed hell in the bowels of the earth if a bad person. I wanted to know if we are truly free thinkers, or guided by a Christian conscience all our lives, whether we know it or not. I came to no great conclusion other than Presbyterianism can be oppressive, reduce minds to the judgemental, and I was missing out on sunny days. Scotland’s freedom was an altogether different matter.
In the political world, we have not yet jailed a man for years who told the truth, but we did try to jail a man for being innocent of a crime. When it comes to the darker features of this world we can look at our own UK government. As Julian Assange has proved – to the cost of his health – Chief Whistle Blower and prisoner of the British State, we are manipulated by those we trusted enough to elect. His truism “wars of the last fifty years have been the result of press lies” is a jolt to the belief we live in the best of all possible worlds, democracy perfected. If the SNP do not uphold the law embodied in the democratic spirit who sanctions them?
Under Thatcher, the state learned to use science and propaganda to promote its ends to a greater degree than any administration since the Second World War. Is the SNP in that league? I do not think so, not yet, at any rate. We forgive the SNP a lot, overlook the worst because, well, it’s on our side, the side of Scotland, or so it seems. But as soon as it slips from the shafts of fair play and honesty, we feel betrayed. Some fanatical SNP members block all wrong-doing out of their mind. It did not happen.
Those who praise the state for clamping down on uncomfortable dissent are encouraged to nurse loyal citizens, and to place the state as something higher than mere private citizens.
This reasoning is why, in my bookish days – abandoned for more practical pursuits – I rejected the views expressed by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel as professional philosophers have done, a man once held in high esteem in Germany. Karl Marx was a great admirer of Hegel, a disciple in his youth, Hegel having a profound influence on his political theory, some of which can be detected in his view that the state has a life of its own. Marxists advocate a kind of society which is good in itself, regardless of whether it will bring happiness to individuals. There are shades of this dogma under headmistress Sturgeon.
Those delighted with her progress demonstrate how authoritarian edicts only bring happiness to those in the chosen hierarchy privileged to rule. And that is what I see is the rotten core of the current SNP, not the rank and file, but the higher echelons. I see more arrogance than cult.
Hegel wrote: “The essential being is the union of the subjective with the rational will [that is, our unerring ability to fit reality to suit or prejudices]; it is the moral Whole, the State, which is that form of reality in which the individual has and enjoys his freedom; but on condition of recognising, believing in and willing that which is common to the Whole … the state is the existing, realised moral life. The morality (sittlichkeit), of the State is not of that ethical (moralische), reflective kind, the true morality is based on the principles of abiding by one’s duty to the State at large.”
Simply put, believe what the SNP State tells us is true (a referendum next year), or be excommunicated and disenfranchised by and from ‘right thinking’ people. Of course, readers do not need me to add that this view is objectionable.
To Hegel, people who believed in the state had the right to force their beliefs and tastes on society. This view leads to ‘nasty parties’, as the Tories are often described, a party that does not care about how it abandons ethics and scruples. We get a kind of administrative aristocracy. To be SNP is to be right and bright. To be anything else is dumb and scum. To achieve promotion within that society, dissent from the orthodox creed is unacceptable.
A new Scotland subverted
The state tends to ignore the individual and their happiness. Independence of judgement becomes taboo, errant, marking out a person as deviant. The last thing Scotland needs in the middle of a new Enlightenment is docile, uncritical citizens, blindly serving party dogma. This is why I welcome the appearance of the ALBA party. It offers a counter view to solutions.
Everybody likes to be a member of some community, club, or tribe. For a long time everybody was welcomed by the SNP to their community. It took all sorts. That has altered for the worse. It is a party that has disenfranchised so many and moved into a highly reactionary, defensive position. It has built a citadel on a hill. Instead of creating a great degree of cooperation, welcoming another independence party, for example, the SNP has built a wall around itself.
For someone creatively minded, it is unhealthy to hold tight to one fixed belief and never gain knowledge. Each day is a day for learning. Nicola Sturgeon wants conformity, the antithesis of a liberated Scotland. On that route lies stagnation and despair. Vitality is smothered. How sad to report, Scotland’s first minister has presided over, indeed encouraged, a gradual suppression of independent thought.
Scotland is at risk from a poisonous bunch of political thugs at Westminster and two horrific unionjackery buildings full of colonial agents in Glasgow and Edinburgh. That is all I care about. Personalities are not relevant at the moment. Scotland comes first. We should be talking about the Power Grab. I do ALBA leaflets in the morning, SNP leaflets in the evening and – on some streets -both at the same time. Independence for Scotland. Leave anything else till after May6th.
It is sad, but perhaps inevitable maybe, that the SNP leadership have so boxed themselves into a corner that they can’t work co-operatively and achieve a division of labour with Alba and Alex : The one tied up with the very taxing day job of running the country with one hand shackled behind their back, whilst the other strives tirelessly to remove those shackles sooner rather than later, especially given the worry that WM may begin to close the avenues making that freedom even possible.
Like many others probably, it was only with the emergence of Alba that I realised how far the rot at the core of the SNP had gone. Let us just hope that we’ve realised in time, to break the stagnation and move on to better times.
[So put that in your philosophy and smoke it — LOL! 🙂 ]
I enjoyed the pipe smoking remark! 🙂
Good to see you in good form. No matter how many bits of you the quacks want to remove, we need you to help us out of this limbo, we find ourselves in. Please take care of you, and be good.
Your good wishes are on my desk now, Mary. 🙂
I studied psychology back in the day and had to do a bit of philosophy along with it, but could never quite get my head around their way of thinking i.e. their insistence on arguing every side of every case every which way. As a scientist I tried to be more pragmatic and cling to what seemed to work, for the time being at least. I’m glad btw that you weren’t offended 😉
I know a friend when I see how he constructs his insults.
That gave me a much-needed genuine LOL!
Sir, I’m honoured 🙂
Structural fixes of Holyrood which would help avoid Nicola-type autocracies relate to the “separation of powers” issues highlighted by David Davis in his 16 March 2021 speech:
And quoting Davis from Hansard:
“Those difficulties can be traced back to the Scotland Act 1998, in which the British Government of the day and this House decided to devolve power to the Scottish Parliament but failed to do it properly. Those failures were broadly on three fronts. First, this House failed to guarantee separation of powers to Scotland. We have known for centuries that separation of powers is fundamental to a functioning democracy, yet in Scotland, the Lord Advocate both leads the prosecution service and serves in the Scottish Cabinet. That leaves him conflicted and compromised, with his Department’s independence undermined. Secondly, the Scottish civil service was left as a part of the wider UK civil service. It therefore does not have its own mechanisms of control and accountability in place, but it is only loosely controlled by Whitehall, as we shall see in a moment. The result has been tolerance of failings that ordinarily would have led to resignations.
Thirdly and most importantly, Scottish parliamentarians were not given the same powers and privileges that Members of this House enjoy. That means that evidence relevant to the Holyrood inquiry can be freely discussed here today using parliamentary privilege, but if an MSP in Holyrood were to do the same, they would likely find themselves facing down prosecution. Indeed, the Crown Office has been making such threats to Mr Salmond’s lawyers, various journalists and even the Holyrood inquiry itself. It made it clear that it would deem disclosure of evidence to a Committee of elected representatives to be a criminal offence. We have, in effect, given the Holyrood inquiry the right to summon evidence but not to use it. It is because of these failings that I have brought this debate today. We need to reinforce the ability of the Scottish Parliament to hold its own Government to account. I am here to strengthen the Scottish Parliament, not to bury it.”
Another related safeguard appears in the ALBA Party manifesto —
“10. The introduction of a second revising chamber for Holyrood based on a proposal from the Citizens Assembly.”
A Second Chamber’ may well turn out to be a pain in a future situation, but it is needed.
“Instead of creating a great degree of cooperation, welcoming another independence party, for example, the SNP has built a wall around itself.”
This posturing by Nicola Sturgeon and her acolytes that they, and only they, can lead us to independence (with a little help from the Greens if they absolutely have to) proves to me what a sorrowful vehicle for the adoration of the Leader the SNP has become
She should perhaps remember that in the campaign for votes for women, there were the suffragists as well as the suffragettes fighting for the cause
Your reference to ‘a kind of society which is good in itself, regardless of whether it will bring happiness to individuals’ brought to mind a certain TED talk in 2019 – wellbeing & happiness as a measure of a country’s success rather than its GDP.
An admirable speech, you must agree – until you see the words transformed into proposed actions 2 years later in the recently published ScotGov Just Transition Commision Report. A quick scan of the Executive Summary confirms the key messages thinly camouflage actions which drive state happiness & wellbeing as defined by the government and a collection of selected experts. (I see no no evidence of input by the party or the public)
Expect to be told in the not to distant future that you should be happy because you are living in a wellbeing economy in a soon to be independent Scotland.
Nicola Sturgeon as Scotland’s Eva Peron? Overshadowing her shadowy husband Peter Juan Murrell?
These cultists who revere these bullies are in for a harsh lesson when the scales eventually drop from their eyes. As David Essex as Che Guevara once sang:
“She did nothing for you!”
My thoughts written with precision.
it has all become quite terrifying .
mullwharcharcom – you are right. Putting the country first is what matters, but the point that Gareth is making is that NS is militating against this.
Barrhead boy, in his latest piece, makes the point that all of the indy bloggers started up to protect the SNP from the very treatment they are now inflicting on Alba. They were defenders of independence, and of the truth, against MSM censorship and misinformation, and still are. Unfortunately this now involves chronicling the disintegration of a once great party into the ‘what the bampot leader says, goes’ party.
Nevertheless, we soldier on. SNP 1 Alba 2
Quite something to see the treatment of ALBA by the SNP meting out what was done to them in their pre-government days.
A wonderful piece of writing, full of philosophical insights on the reality of our ongoing oppression, Grousebeater. Thank you.
For those who may be interested, here is a link to my video ‘INDEPENDENCE EXPLAINED’, which follows on from my book ‘Doun-Hauden: The Socio-Political Determinants of Scottish Independence’.
I remember the SNP being treated by the MSM, at the behest of the ruling unionists in the 1970s and 1980s, exactly as Alba are being treated now, by the ruling SNP.
I hope you live to see Scottish Independence, Gareth, but if not, I hope you see Sturgeon’s denouement.
It is unbelievable and reprehensible that a NATION can be so weak and compromised by one individual whose narcissism and inability to face reality has resulted in so much damage to a countries moral stance , who could have forseen the deliberate determination to render our females as inconsequential and demeaning them by using degrading names to address them , who could have forseen the dreams of independence being seconded and ignored in an effort to placate deviant organisations and individuals whose aims and ambitions towards our children are verging on paedophilia
You recount that you rejected, “… the notion of a diety floating up in the sky, eternal life in the Hereafter, and a fiery hell in the bowels of the earth if a bad person.” It’s a pity that you rejected such notions of God, heaven, and hell, without coming to a more adequate Christian understanding. I studied Philosophy in the early 1970s, my special subject being philosophy of religion. It was a matter of “faith seeking understanding”.
My understanding was challenged, and I used that challenge, not to reject the Christian Faith, but to grow in my faith. One of the books recommended in my course, was Alvin Plantinga’s, God and Other Minds. I found that reading that and going to New College for lunch for time to time, sitting next to James Torrance, and chatting with him about my questions, was very nurturing of my faith. In 1999 Plantinga published, Warranted Christian Belief in which he “advances a detailed account of the rationality of religious, and especially Christian, theistic belief”.
If you have time and are still interested in matters of faith I recommend them. More popular books I recommend are NT Wright (former Professor of New Testament at St Andrew’s). Simply Christian, and, Simply Jesus.
Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP Government seem to base their thinking and policies on the cult of Critical Race Theory, or Cultural Marxism. I think that they are engaging in social engineering by their Woke policies which are based on the the rejection of human biological reality as a basis of self identity, an extreme individualism that bases identity on personal mental experience without the interaction of parents, friends, and the wider society.
They want to enforce it by the amendments to the law concerning gender, and the hate speech law. I think you are correct when you write, “Marxists advocate a kind of society which is good in itself, regardless of whether it will bring happiness to individuals. There are shades of this dogma under headmistress Sturgeon.”
It also asserts the hegemony of the state by including what is said in the privacy of one’s own home in the hate speech law. The Scottish tradition is that of the limitation of the authority of the state as was affirmed recently by Lord Baird in the Court of Session; the Two Kingdoms Doctrine. This doctrine of the limitation of the authority of the state was given wider application in the Netherlands by Abraham Kuyper, Prime Minister in the early 20th century.
He taught the doctrine of Sphere Sovereignty; that there are many spheres, each with its own authority. The authority of the state is limited to justice. The family has its own authority, as does education, business, etc. The spheres overlap, so that just family relations are an interest of the state, as is justice in education, business etc. The outcome of this would be that hate speech law would not apply in the family or the home.
Thanks for the article!
Every generation sees a re-interpretation of the Bible – New and Old Testament – to fit the new thinking of the era. Professional proponents of Christian theology have to justify their existence. What I acknowledge is the need for communities to have a tranquil place where they can meet in times of adversity, but I’d never associate the church with fun. To be absolutely frank, I regard Christianty, Judiasm and Islam to be the three great evils of our world. Hence, I am lost to any cause of devotional rehabilitation. But thank you for your civil, interesting response.
Thank you for your gentle response. I wont respond to you writing, “To be absolutely frank, I regard Christianty, Judiasm and Islam to be the three great evils of our world” by crying our “Hate Speech!” and sending the paddy wagons. I know its not “Hate Speech”. I’m gland we still have some freedom of speech, but for how long? We seem to have moved into a regime where we have forbidden speech and required speech.
Slavish devotion to a leader who must never be questioned… check.
A cabal at the top to ensure this devotion… check.
Seething hatred for anyone who chooses to leave… check.
Insulting terms for those who dare question… check.
Complete intolerance of anyone seen as a rival… check.
They’re a cult all right.
Christianus sum. Perhaps Gareth will indulge me a single post on this matter.
Christianity tends to get short shrift on Scottish independence blogs (as elsewhere) almost by reflex these days. Despite gross lapses, the fact is that in the struggle against autocracy (Nicola take note) and in pursuit of constitutional government, Christians have indeed made significant historical contributions not just to Scottish but to human democracy.
JOHN DUNS SCOTUS (1266-1308)
A significant early example is the Berwickshire founder of the Scottish tradition of philosophy John Duns Scotus, whose thought apparently framed the Declaration of Arbroath. Prof Alexander Broadie makes this case in his 2010 Royal Society of Edinburgh audio lecture ‘The Past as Propaganda in The Declaration of Arbroath: Influence of John Duns Scotus’, and in the online article ‘John Duns Scotus and the Idea of Independence’.
JOHN MAIR (Gleghornie, 1467-1550)
The writings of John Duns Scotus also influenced John Mair who became a highly strategic professor at St Andrews University and the University of Paris (lecturing to eg John Calvin, George Buchanan, Ignatius Loyola, Francisco Vitoria, François Rabelais). Mair sought to curb the autocratic power of the Pope within the Catholic Church. Though he himself remained Catholic, his ‘Conciliar Movement’ principles influenced the constitutional thinking of the Protestant Reformers of the 16th century, informing the disputes against absolute monarchies in Europe of the 17th century.
GEORGE BUCHANAN (1506-1582)
Again, the treatise ‘Art and Science of Government among the Scots’ by Calvinist-humanist George Buchanan (a former pupil of John Mair above) had a huge influence on political thought in Britain and America. John Milton in his ‘Defence of the People of England’ wrote concerning just government: “For Scotland I refer you to Buchanan”.
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661)
Presbyterian minister and St Andrews Professor, Samuel Rutherford in his ‘Lex, Rex’ laid the foundation for the libertarian ideas of the US Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Indeed, the American War for Independence was referred to by the British as a “Presbyterian Rebellion”. John Locke (‘Father of Classical Liberalism’) was himself much influenced by Rutherford’s ‘Lex, Rex’.
HERMAN DOOYEWEERD (Dutch, 1894-1977)
In keeping with the above heritage I have an ongoing interest in the thinking of the late Dutch Christian philosopher Herman Dooyeweerd, who wrote extensively on the nature of the “just state”. The jurist and humanist G.E. Langemeyer called him “the most original philosopher Holland has produced, even Spinoza not excepted”.
In a prescient comment bringing to mind Nicola Sturgeon’s ill-conceived intention to try change reality by legislation, Dooyeweerd wrote:
“The formal abolishing of paternal authority by the first wave of the French Revolution was one of the many ‘paper decrees’ which, as an expression of human hubris, were swept away by what is very inadequately termed the logic of the facts. By setting aside the normative principles of law, morality, or culture, human arbitrariness can create a social chaos; it cannot create juridical, moral or historical norms in this way.” (Herman Dooyeweerd: ‘A New Critique of Theoretical Thought’, Vol II, p 336)
For anyone interested, I have posted a very extensive extract of Dooyeweerd’s historical analysis (rather academic in pitch) of the nature of the “State” here:
It’s possibly her self-admitted imposter syndrome driving this all-out attack on anything that may take a fleck of limelight away from her.
She believes she’s carrying the weight of all women on her shoulders and their future successes depend on hers, but her sense of inadequacy is bound to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Turning around growling against anyone offering their hand, is the sign of a scared, possibly wounded individual.
Her carefully chosen pack of allies firmly depends on her placet to push their policies, otherwise lacking any significant popular support.
They need her help to get things done, and she’s keeping them hostage as attack dogs, in an unhealthy symbiotic relationship.
This is to their mutual benefit to the detriment of Scotland and Scots at large.
This rot has set so deeply into the core of the SNP beast that a compassionate vet would choose euthanasia.
There is nothing left salvageable, not even the once rickety but well exercised volunteers base, now destroyed by years of platitudes and disillusion.
What’s left is an empty shell, firmly closed shut, still slick and sleek, but the muscle inside is dead.
It will take some time for the shell to lose its shine, then to fall apart at the softest of waves, letting the rotted corpse’s ooze to foul our country.
Google today pays homage to Anne McLaren…no me neither. But she appears to have been some English academic of some renown. Anyway, the surname seems warmly suggestive of some cilivising antecedents. Sure as fate we soon encounter Scottish jurist antecedents from the grandfather and more profoundly a great grandfather steeped in anti Corn Law advocacy. It really is frightening how quickly anti establishment figures become the establishment in the.
into the last week now and the Alba’s haven’t made any headway in the polls, time to pull the pull Salm?
A recent poll showing a potential 8 MSPs and ALBA hasn’t made any headway? That seems an odd conclusion. Even if your are proved to be right that doesn’t mean the existence of a strong indy opposition to the SNP’s behaviour is not necessary. And if ALBA gets nowhere it certainly won’t wipe out the antagonism that exists whipped up by the SNP against itself. It will probably increase frustration.
No idea what your last point means: “time to pull the pull Salm?”
Alba/Salmond isn’t a cult? For elderly, reactionary men, perhaps? My favourite Alba policy is the privatisation of the government’s response to the global climate emergency. The privatisation of the government’s plague recovery plan is a close second, and in third place is handing the government’s responsibilities for adhering to the human rights act to a random bunch of people picked off the street. Has anyone actually read their manifesto?
At less than a month old with a politician out of politics many years, how the hell can ALBA have evolved into a cult? And yes, I’ve read the ALBA manifesto. Let’s raise the discussion level from unreconstructed derogatory mince to something akin to rational thought.