Etonian and BBC propagandist George Orwell gave us the nightmare of a dystopian state in his relentlessly bleak novel 1984. Incarcerated in a detention cell, the protagonist Winston Smith covers his face with his hands in fear and anquish. The television screen on the wall buzzes into life and a firm voice is heard saying, “Smith! 6079 Smith! Uncover your face! No faces covered in the cells!” This is the ultimate repressive fascism Orwell was warning us of, as he put later, “imagine a boot coming down on your face, again and again, forever”.
Open a newspaper printed in Scotland, or read a social site on the Internet, and you might wonder if Scotland has arrived at that situation, so often is the word ‘fascist’ thrown around. There are examples to back it up: former ambassador and humanist Craig Murray jailed for daring to challenge a judge’s concoction called ‘jigsaw identification’. The air is thick with disillusioned SNP supporters calling SNP policies fascistic, and some SNP officials who should know better indulging in the same shallow bickering, the latest figure the obnoxious fabulist, Fiona Robertson, calling peaceful protestors ‘fascists’. The SNP hierarchy does not contradict her nor rebuke her louche utterances.
Fascism is probably the worst thing a dissenter can throw at Scotland’s administration without falling back on a profanity or two for added punch. The SNP government is widely criticised by its own supporters as both lazy in educating people of the benefits of self-governance, and over-zealous in controlling people’s lives, what we say and how we say it. This criticism from various quarters of public life includes not only SNP policies, but also their government funded organisations, their announcements (or lack of them in the case of independence), attacks on individuals, and even their own dissenting supporters. The move by the SNP to eradicate the word ‘woman’ is an international abberation, defying humanity, and will be defeated by commonsense and biology.
The Covid pandemic has seen the severest retrictions on our daily lives than at any time since the Second World War. Where we go, who and how we mix with family and acquaintances is severely controlled. Social engineering has also taken its toll on free expression. People are denounced, reputations trashed, or jailed for their beliefs.
At the same time we have commentators using their newspaper columns to ask if the pandemic, slowing down our expected capitalist consumption, our throw-away consumerism, could see us form a new model of daily living, something less materialistic, more caring. Meanwhile, the SNP delays tackling the British government head on, preferring to be ‘nice’.
Have we really seen Scotland’s champion of liberty, the Scottish National Party, become a faceless, brutal bureacracy, or the harbinger of better days? Under the weird doctrine of the SNP government, we have reached the stage where standing up for women’s rights is thought morally worse than committing an unkind action, such as an SNP official belittling a member in order to be seen loyal to the leadership.
Scotland is not alone in feeling fascism is getting the upper hand, if rather late to the party. The rise of authoritarian regimes around the world intent on keeping strict control of their populace is a remarkable feature of the 20st century. When we think of harsh authoritarianism we think of Germany and the Nazis. We do not think of the USA that has learned and adopted Mussolini’s tactics, or rained death down on defenceless smaller agrarian nations mercessly to a far greater degree than any country that has committed terrorist acts on the West.
Mussolini at large
For my part, when people use the word fascist I think of the European model as other do, of Benito Mussolini first, Franco, dictator of Spain, second. (South American countries come last because the Western press is so bad at reporting news from that region of the globe.)
General Franco enjoyed full patronage by his people and by world leaders as leader for life. We toddled off for our fortnight’s package holiday to Spain oblivious of his history, or bought property there without knowing the next door neighbour or local tapas bar owner adored Franco. His lieutenants did all they could to keep him alive when he was dying, so great was his control of Spain. His disciples still exercise considerable influence in the running of Spain and the crushing of Catalonia’s political hopes.
Mussolini a good guy
In his early years both the UK government and the US thought Mussolini a fine chap. UK politicians felt his methods got results. They admired the way he coerced and motivated Italians. Mussolini’s Italy was the new model to follow, an extremist party with extremist policies dominated by a charismatic, all-powerful leader.
Adolf Hitler, hiding an inferiority complex, thought Mussolini a great man, that is, until he met him, and thereupon decided he was a fool. Mussolini declared the fascist ideology of fear and omertà, a kind of ‘wheest for Benito”, ‘the summation and unity of all values’. He called it ‘totalitarian’ governance. He felt everything existed in the state, nothing outside. There had to be no other party but the Fascist Party.
That fascism crushed the human spirit to a point people would rise up and smash their elected leaders (Mussolini met a gruesome death at the hands of people who once idolised him), did not worry the dictator until it was too late and his fate sealed.
Mussolini never thought much further than what he saw reflected in his full-length bedroom mirror. He had one of his favourite mistresses driven to his house in the middle of the night under police escort. When she arrived in his bedroom he was dressed in full military uniform. (Dictators have a habit of enjoying wearing army uniform.)
Mussolini’s mistress was hustled inside his boudoir. “Am I the most handsome leader you have ever seen?” he asked. She answered yes, he was, and was escorted smartly back to her apartment. Had selfies been invented he would most certainly have been emperor of the craft. Nicola Sturgeon is no dictator, and unlike her opposite number, Truthie Davidson, she wears no army uniform. I cannot envisage Nicola Sturgeon asking her husband Peter Murrell the rhetorical question, “Am I the most beautiful First Minister?” because he claims he does not mix domestic issues with his wife’s political business.
In the 1950’s American right-wing, third-rate scholars such as Zbigniew Brzezinski noted how the structures of fascism managed the concentration of power, free to impose, free to terrorise. Imagined enemies were conjured on a regular basis to keep the populace fixated on some existential fear giving the Fascist party greater and greater control of the economy and the lines of communication.
If you were not for Benito you were against him and therefore a danger to the ideals of the party and state. Steps were taken to ‘other’ you. In this respect, the SNP offers us an alarming similarity. The result was a ship-load of power in the hands of one man and no opposition. In that Mussolini was like Joseph Stalin, only Stalin killed millions to achieve his political goals, while Mussolini is reputed to have been responsible for the deaths of a few thousand civilians. His goal was widening the influence of fascist ideology, the aim of Stalin’s regime was holding onto personal power.
The fascists encouraged a culture of leader worship and vainglorious national pomp, reviving the victories of the past, the Roman Empire. The English version, the ‘Blackshirts’, led by the pompous aristocrat Sir Oswald Mosley, was a thin rag-bag copy of Mussolini’s structures of command, a kind of ‘Dad’s Army’ of the hand-picked bigotted unemployed. What united them all with the SNP, besides absolutism, was a strict loyalty to the leader.
Whereas the SNP has branches in various cities and towns that it instructs on what to think and do, political discussion held within strict limits – ‘Vote SNP1and2’ – the Italian fascists had ruthless local bosses called ‘Ras‘ who actually ran the big cities. Local party agencies became the foot soldiers and tax agents of the Ras, always spouting the party line, rather like some notable SNP officials uphold whatever Nicola Sturgeon is saying at any one time, whether it makes sense or is nonsense and ultimately divisive.
The Nazi insult
The other epithet thrown between independence supporters, and independence supporters and unionists, is the ‘Nazi’ insult. Nazism and fascism were two different ideologies today conflated as one and the same.
The Nazi regime was obviously brutal and lethal. (Episodes of the magnificent Inspector Montalbano tell us how Italians of conscience could outwit the fascist faithful.) Hitler and his gang derived their power from instilling fear of violence in people at the hands of party officials, coercion rather than consent of citizens.
The activities of early Nazi gangs that roamed the streets ready to beat up dissenters, going as far as torturing and murdering Jews, communists and gypsies, is well documented. The SNP method of convincing non-believers is to belittle them if they resist, denounce a few strong voices, and ultimately throw them ‘under a bus’. Some SNP supporters have taken to implementing a campaign of censorship, blocking Internet bloggers who seem, to the SNP, far too ready to criticise SNP policies. They aim to reduce blogger influence.
Perhaps without knowing it, the SNP exercises what Michel Foucault calls the “individual as both an effect of power and the element of its articulation: the individual which power has constituted is at the same time its vehicle”.
All parties enjoying political power too long eventually do what they can to consolidate power to use to extend their powers and their administrative life. Power not given by the electorate is taken by any means possible – a pandemic is a gift from the gods to constrain human rights indefinitely – and use against the electorate to keep it docile.
Misuse of power
The most excessive misuse of power employed by the SNP leadership has been the hunting of the former First Minister, the Right Honorable Alex Salmond MP, a feverish chase as baying hounds run down a fox, aided and abetted by the corrupted stewardship of the Scottish Crown Office. Were it not for a High Court jury determined to keep a tight hold of natural justice, Alex Salmond would be languishing in jail for years to come.
On the other hand, the former ambassador and human rights advocate, Craig Murray, is likely to have been fined or given a community sentence had he been given a jury trial, or perhaps the Scottish ‘Not Proven’ verdict applied. He was given 8 months in jail. Jailing a journalist in Nicola Sturgeon’s Scotland most definitely lost the SNP voters as much as it has shocked.
Power and consent
Power and consent are woven into the same tapestry. One way the SNP has tried to achieve power over Scotland’s citizens, is by dangling the carrot of greater freedoms in an independent nation. Civilised life must have some restrictions, so merely offering vague new freedoms is not enough to convince ditherers and doubters that restoring independence is a good thing.
If you do not vote for us, says the SNP, who do you vote for to regain nationhood? When revolutions are betrayed by the sole party of independence, new parties arise. With the advent of the ALBA party and the ISP, members can answer the SNP jibe with an alternative.
The struggle for self-governance in a colonial environment is a revolution of sorts, and one bound to get more aggressive as its aims are frustrated by its own government, and by the colonial power resting in Westminster and the Tory party.
Who is better than us?
As stated, the SNP’s challenge of ‘who is better than us?’ is answered by the formation of the ALBA party and the ISP, currently filled in the main by refugees from the SNP itself, a worrying trend for a party once united and set for historic victory.
Both parties are hard set against the excesses of the SNP, while utterly resolved not to compromise or accommodate London offers of federalism which will only keep power centralised. They are ready to show up SNP ineptitude and amaterism, while still believing Scotland must be autonomous if not to be subsumed completely in an ersatz English culture, and do it by dissolving a fractured and irreparable Union for something better.
Is the SNP a fascist organsation?
In the actions of some of its over-zealous missionary practitioners, the SNP can be fascistic in character demanding complete loyalty to its cause, and in showing intolerance to defiant disagreement in its ranks.
Fascism resists new ideas. The SNP is corruped by internal misjudgements and covering up poor administration. But no party can be called a fascist organisation when its leader resigns on losing a referendum, as Alex Salmond did in September 2014. However, Nicola Sturgeon has been embroiled in countless policy failures and administrative fiascos yet refuses to step aside for better leadership; she relies entirely on sustained public admiration, nationally and internationally.
Moreover, Sturgeon also relies on the public being uninformed of the outcome of her party’s seriously flawed policies. Media commentators call her the Teflon Queen. Public ignorance cannot hold forever. To consolidate her position she has invited the Scottish Green Party to share some government positions in return for a need-to-back SNP basis. This is a shaky alliance. It does not resemble absolute power. It resembles a patch and mend job.
The Greens are not without internal differences. They have lost one of their best champions, the environmentalist, Andy Wightman. The arrangement may see some bills enacted but as Sturgeon’s popularity falls, so parties such as ALBA will rise on the back of public awareness to revoke poor legislation.
There are good and bad people
When you study political organisations you begin to see strata of sophistications that demonstrate nothing is straight-forward. Nicola Sturgeon has her critics within her ranks, just as Hitler had generals who wished him dead. Liberal critics of Mussolini’s regime were swift in seeing some similarities in Stalin’s regime. The Catholic church accommodated fascism as a conservative dictatorship of the right, and therefore far more acceptable than a communist dictatorship of the left. Scotland’s independent clan chiefdoms may have disappeared but they are still there in spirit in clashing local councils.
The SNP does not have street gangs beating up protestors, only supporters tearing down ALBA posters. To intimidate and alienate it uses character assassination, an old political tactic. But SNP’s distribution of power is hampered by resistence in various quarters. What can be said of the SNP under the guidance of Nicola Stugeon is how bad it has been in handling greater happiness for the masses. For the most part, more people than ever are unhappy at their situation, exacerbated by a pandemic lock-down.
And though the SNP tried hard to stop the English government from pulling the UK and Scotland out of the European Union, failing miserably, the greatest shaper of England’s destiny was the Battle of Hastings changing who was in charge, just as the Battle of Bannockburn shaped Scotland’s history, the right to remain an independent nation, the people sovereign, not king or government.
Nothing the SNP can do, or England’s power diminish, will remove the dream of a free Scotland. Few people dare claim the eradication of Scotland’s independence parties will see the movement for equality and liberty and a new deal gone forever. The mess the SNP has got itself into will be corrected, it’s just that some innocent people will get hurt in the process until fresh, radical leadership appears. The sad part is ever day independence is pushed back is a win for the opponents of reason.