There comes a point when arguing for self-governance, faced by politicians intent on doing nothing much to secure it, told a curious or a querulous nature is a risky thing, you lose the impetus to write anything at all. Is it worth the trouble? The trundling nature of the current SNP administration is sure to bring on a dose of writer’s block. No one can sustain loyalty in elected representatives to deliver a promise who are busy avoiding or blocking contact with the electorate.
It’s cosy in here
One of the pleasures of living in a small country is how close, physically as well as communicatively – sorry, too lazy to think of a shorter word – our daily life is in proximity to the government of the day. Unlike Westminster, Scotland’s MSPs don’t disappear to multi-million pound apartments in Knightsbridge, London, or estates in the Highlands for a day’s grouse shoot surrounded by bored security guards.
We see them, we know their background, we know their successes and failures, we see them go to work. Knowing we know, keeps their feet on the ground, or it should if ever they succumb to delusions of grandeur.
A dilettante’s life
And yet, here we are watching SNP politicians, proud dilettantes, deriding voters who have an opinion, who dare express it publicly. How did we get to a place where our elected representatives think people are hostile, so they treat the voter with contempt?
They think nothing of condemning bloggers devoted to the cause of civil rights. They belittle free expression, keen to stifle dissent and debate. Is it cleverly counter-intuitive? The double bluff? Fooling the right-wing into a false sense of security? No, it is rather the tired and jaded taking refuge in a bunker mentality.
When you note what has accumulated you cannot escape the conclusion the SNP has taken to judgemental authoritarianism faster than John Knox. I refer to recent events, here are a few: damning as offensive legitimate enquiries into a missing referendum fund, the ‘Hunt for Wed Salmond’, summary ejection of members for trifling Internet errors, social site bloggers denounced as a threat to life on Earth, the ‘Wheesht for Indy‘ creed sponsored by Duct Tape, and finally, the infantile, inane adoption of the Thatcher mantra, ‘if you’re not for us, you’re against us’.
The frontal attack on liberalism
Authoritarianism is the enemy of liberalism. Hard to think of a country this decade which has not taken to it like a dictator to a mistress. It was tried in Iceland, when their prime minister and bankers ruled the roost to line their pockets. Being a small country where most folks are concentrated in a small geographical area, it was pretty daft for anybody to try a wee bit of trouser lining. People saw what was happening and dumped their parliamentarians for new ones, chucked them out, jailed their bankers.
People usually point to China as the worst example of authoritarianism. I have never felt China should adopt western-style democracy, not when the most densely populated country in the word, all those mouths to feed. Until recently, opening up parts of China to the worst excesses of capitalism, it was an agrarian society. We stole invention from them. Russia and Stalin come next in the list of totalitarian regimes to be reviled, yet, like jeering at China, we veer from trading as a way of enticing them to see things our way, to boycotting their trade to see things our way, depending on who is president of the United States at the time.
Controlling the masses
Everywhere is social control and political disruption, governments leaning on Internet discussion platforms to censor accounts, Boris’s gang throwing over Whitehall traditions and proroguing the UK parliament. Entirely fraudulent companies and flaky think tanks have appeared in the United Kingdom in the last few years aiming to earn a fast buck from the clandestine task of gathering information on private citizens by Internet and disseminating disinformation to the same folks.
I am in no doubt the SNP is infiltrated by spooks, crooks and aspiring dukes. All parties are. Fifth columnists are trained people adept at reaching into the very heart of liberal societies to undermine them from within. The nefarious in the spy trade would have a field day watching the SNP foundering, out of its depth, against the British state, were it not for the rear guard neo-fascist action of the Tory party inadvertently compelling people to vote for independence as a safe haven.
You do not have to be born into a poor household to understand what a caring liberal environment means for hope, but it helps. It helps to recall how and why you are where you are, how you got to this point in your life, how critical the welfare state was to your survival and may be still. Ask JK Rowling about state benefaction, the abandoned single mother, she knows how the system works.
A caring society
To be disadvantage and be given a ‘leg up’ is a minor miracle. For some, like me, it was a grant to get to college and university, and then offered the best ladder of all to reach the middle-classes, to become a teacher, a lecturer, for others a nurse or a doctor, professions seen as serving society, wholesome, noble, not merely given brief applause on a Thursday at 8 o’clock.
Some people were creatures of habit and settled for a job for life to raise a family. Others used the system to question what could be done better in a liberal era. But all the time, the extreme capitalists, the authoritarians, who gave themselves the false name of ‘libertarian’ to imply they were free spirits, were planning to take back what they regarded as their natural hierarchies, their divine entitlements, privileges and power, the things that determine our existence.
As soon as liberalism makes an appearance and attracts followers, autocrats begin a campaign to bring it down. Autocrats and liberals have never been good bedfellows. It was the autocracies of Russia, Austria and Prussia that crushed the French Revolution, had Beethoven rededicate his Third Symphony, scoring out Napoleon’s name from the manuscript’s cover, and saw Robert Burns bemoan the loss of liberty.
Those regimes did all they could to keep liberalism at bay. There were early prototypes of the modern police state. Stalin merely improved the mechanisms. Nor did they limit their attacks against liberalism to their own people, they intervened with extreme force to crush stirrings of liberalism in Spain, Italy and Poland.
They engaged in extensive censorship, closed universities, maintained networks of spies to keep an eye on ordinary people, and jailed, tortured and killed those suspected of fomenting liberal revolution. They gave the modern world the example to follow.
Meanwhile, we see Hungary’s Vicktor Orban doing his best to give freedoms a kicking, proclaiming his ‘Illiberalism’ with pride. He sets Christian against ‘heathen’ migrants protected by that other liberal bastion he detests, the European Union. Witness too, Tayyip Erdogan dismantling Turkey’s oldest liberal institutions in the name of Islamic beliefs and traditions. Spain had a go at authoritarianism, the remnants of Franco still in power, determined to extinguish Catalonia’s aspirations. Dictators are everywhere. There was one in the US Whitehouse for four inglorious years who has shown us a coup of western democracy is a distinct possibility.
But there are glimmers of warm sun; the far-right is routed in Greece and Italy, fascist Steve Bannion, the man who tried to unite far-right groups in Europe, awaits trial for alleged financial larceny, and Ireland is ready and willing to show Britain it has become a pariah state, bereft of basic humanity.
Not the SNP!
Before readers throw their hands up in the air, shocked I might be comparing those brutish eras to the SNP this last decade, be assured, Scotland is not there yet. But it has indulged in mock political trials, is attempting to bring in an odious Hate Crime Bill that threatens free expression, and it has humiliated erring politicians and private citizens in the press, just as any good authority figures of a Chinese province might do to a dissident rice grower until he confessed his wayward ways, or a Hong Kong protestor till she ceases political attacks on the administration.
I like to think it is the teething pains of an old nation shaking off its colonial past and faltering momentarily until it stands on its own two feet, but at the back of my mind I know I am witnessing amateurs at work, scared of looking foolish.
With a majority of eighty in the House of Commons, now an unapologetic English-only parliament, the British authoritarians have regained their confidence and found their voice. They impose dullards and the unelected on Scotland’s democracy, elevating them to give them more power to compensate for the few grey cells they have knocking around in their thick skulls, House Jock servants such as secretary of state Alister Jack, a ventriloquist’s dummy, bully boy Ruth Davidson now a baroness, and Lady Mone, a courtesan in the old mould minus the long white gloves and frenetic face fanning.
Those people and their paymasters are determined to roll back liberal advances as much as they can, as quickly as they can, and so far they are succeeding, the welfare state, the English national health service, and Scotland’s right to be an equal partner in the United Kingdom crushed under their onslaught. They succeed because we fail.
The Yes movement has never faltered
The unceasing, well-planned anti-liberal attacks is the thing that angers independence supporters who view the SNP’s quietly adopted policy of gradualism to be a disaster.
They Yes movement knows what the British state is capable of doing, intent on keeping a territory from exercising free will. They know England has isolated itself from Europe without calculating on a No Deal from the EU, or an Ireland determined to break the Tory party’s hold on the north of Ireland. And Yes see an England that calculated without a new US president who has already made plain he wants no border in the Irish Sea that jeopardises the Good Friday Agreement. The British state is snookered, yet the SNP, the party of independence, drags its comfy velvet slippers.
All that is left for England is to hold tight to Scotland and its wealth, not to show how much the Union means for democracy, but to eradicate liberalism exercised by Scotland and the Islands, Wales too. That the SNP think delaying a battle against such belligerent colonial aggression is a ‘Gold Standard’ of anything is unadulterated hokum, the naive promise of David never to use his slingshot and stones if confronted by a big bully.
To those who have acquired power through wealth – which means most of the Tory party now constructed – liberalism is a limp amalgam of idealisms, people who cannot face real-politik, losers and grievance monkeys. The power elite lose touch with their roots, their ancestors and their heritage. Those cultural aspects become meaningless in the quest to own material things, conspicuous consumption to denote status that remove you from the daily life of the masses. Monaco, here we come!
Without know it, Scots who protect their land, their language, traditions and mores, are greater liberals than any career politician worried about what other nations might think of Scotland’s rightful political ambitions, and who think being upright and well-spoken is keeping a clean square of handkerchief in your top pocket.
The SNP’s confidence in gradualism is not only wholly misplaced, it is guaranteed lethal to Scotland’s sovereignty. The promoters of blind faith have lost sight of a simple and very practical reality: that whatever we may think about the persistent problems of our lives lived in a colonial reality, our hopes for justice and equality, our belief in faith and reason, only liberalism guarantees the right to hold and express those ideals and battle over them in the public arena we value as a democracy.
‘Wheesht for Indy‘ should be shot at dawn and buried in an unmarked grave.