We all own this movement

Not everyone in the independence movement is thrilled by the Scottish Government’s Growth Commission report. Mildly left of centre and fiscally timid party produces mildly left of centre and fiscally timid economic report, shock horror. Imagine that eh, the SNP hasn’t come up with an economic plan that adopts all the measures favoured by the Socialists or the Greens. The Scottish Government hasn’t developed an economic plan that’s all about me me me and my favourite analysis. Cue a lot of stamping of feet and throwing of dummies. Cue some anguished articles in the overwhelmingly anti-independence press, and a far larger number of gloating articles in that press about how the independence movement is split and divided.

That’s not to say that the plans favoured by the Socialists or the Greens are not as worthwhile or capable of persuading people to the cause of independence as the SNP’s plans, of course they are. Personally I find some aspects of the Common Weal’s proposals for kick-starting the economy of an independent Scotland rather more appealing than some of the points made by the Growth Commission. But the point is that this independence movement is a broad movement, above all it’s a grassroots movement.

By definition not all the players within a grassroots movement are going to sing from the same song sheet. By definition a mass movement is going to contain people with whom you disagree. That’s kinda the point of a grassroots mass movement. That’s our strength, our beauty, our appeal. There’s something there for everyone and no one person or party can own our movement. This is not Nicola Sturgeon’s independence movement. This is not Alex Salmond’s independence movement. This isn’t Robin McAlpine’s independence movement. This isn’t my independence movement. It isn’t Loki’s and it isn’t Jonathon Shafi’s either. It belongs to all of us, and we don’t all have to agree on everything.

The Growth Commission report is a discussion document, not holy writ. You’re not supposed to agree with everything in a discussion document otherwise there is nothing to discuss. It’s a bit like being asked for your opinion but immediately stomping off in a huff because the person asking your opinion hadn’t telepathically absorbed your point of view and didn’t already know what you thought. If the Scottish Government had published its paper and every single person within the Yes movement had said – well yes my thoughts exactly, I’m neither going to criticise it nor make suggestions for improvement – then we would have been accused of being a cult. The entire idea of a discussion document is to act as a basis for discussion. So why react to it as though someone has slapped you in the face with a sterlingisation proposal and announce with outraged harrumphery that you’re disassociating yourself from the movement?

In travels across the length and breadth of this country, I’ve met thousands of people in the independence movement. Every single one of them, without exception, wants Scottish independence because they recognise that there is much that is wrong with this country and it needs to be fixed. They recognise that successive Westminster governments which have presided over and created the rampant inequalities and social injustice which blight this country are not going to fix the conditions upon which British rule depends. But where we all differ in this movement is in our ideas of what we want to achieve with Scottish independence and how we want to go about achieving it. I have my vision of the better land that an independent Scotland could be, it may not be the same as yours.

It has to be said that there is a certain section of the independence movement which is more concerned about ideological purity than it is about independence. They’re putting the cart before the horse. It’s all very well demanding that an independent Scotland must have swings and a roundabout and they must get first dibs on them, but the point is that we need to get the land for the playground first. Once we’ve achieved that. Once we have secured the land, then that is the time to fall out about swings, roundabouts, or chutes.

The irony is that those who preach ideological purity are no different from any one else in this campaign in their desire to achieve independence for pragmatic and practical ends. We all want independence in order to make this country a better place for all its citizens, to make Scotland a better place, a peaceful country that’s a beacon of hope and progressivity. Independence is the starting point, it’s not the final goal, and the ideologically purist wing of the movement is no different from anyone else in this campaign in that regard.

It’s just that some people insist that this movement, this campaign, has to be run according to their preferred set of ideological goals and if it isn’t then they’re going to carp on the sidelines and devote as much if not more time and energy complaining about and criticising other independence supporters than they do attacking the British state and establishment which has produced the unacceptable Scotland that all of us want to change. It’s like fighting with someone who has a different idea of what the cure is rather than tackle the underlying illness. They want a mass movement, but at the same time they want everyone else to agree with them. You can’t have it both ways. This is a mass movement aiming for Scottish independence. We’re not playing at student politics here.

This is not a call to everyone to agree all the time. It’s not a call on everyone to shut up for independence. It’s a call for people to stop attacking others within the movement with whom you have a different point of view about how to achieve a better Scotland. Because the only people who benefit from that are those who don’t want any of us to achieve a better Scotland. The only people who benefit are those opponents of independence who gloat and smirk about divisions and splits within the independence movement. When you attack other supporters of independence because you disagree with their tactics or their vision of the better Scotland we can win, the anti-independence media doesn’t give you airtime or column inches because it wants to promote diversity within the Yes movement. It does it because it wants to weaken and discredit us.

The way we can achieve independence within this mass movement is for all of us to continue to put forward our own hopes of the better Scotland that shimmer before us in a beautiful vision. If you are going to attack anyone, attack those opponents of independence who tell us that there is no such thing as a more beautiful Scotland, that this British state is the best we can hope for. When you attack other independence supporters, all you’re doing is making it more difficult to achieve your own dream. That’s precisely what the British state is depending on.

Let’s not forgot that we all own this movement, and it’s respectful diversity and debate within this movement which will produce respectful diversity and debate within the better Scotland that we’re all campaigning for.

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36 comments on “We all own this movement

  1. […] Wee Ginger Dug We all own this movement Not everyone in the independence movement is thrilled by the Scottish Government’s […]

  2. Alasdair Macdonald. says:

    The ‘ideological purity’ vanity is one which has sunk many good causes over the years, and I do not simply mean political ones, independence ones, Scottish ones, European ones.

    We all have to live in the world as it is and not as we would wish it to be and that means accepting several unsatisfactory and undesirable things in the current situation so that we can begin to make the shift, where, we hope – and it always is no more than a hope – that we can gradually forsake some of the compromises we had to make.

    ‘Ideological purity’ is often closely bound to ego, and, to sustain the ego, and the solipsistically perceived attack on it which compromise would entail, the fallback is to declare that’ they will have no truck with sell-outs’ and to move huffily to the sidelines, smouldering in the betrayal they have had inflicted on them.

    I can remember few trade union meetings when some group of ideologues did not shout ‘Sell-out’ and ‘traitors’.

    Those defending the status quo ,love finding an embittered zealot. He or she will appear on every TV and radio programme sniping and cavilling at his or her former allies. Look at all these ex-communists like Alan Sherman and Robert Conquest who were the intellectual troops of Mrs Thatcher. Indeed, history shows that many of these loudmouths were often agent provocateurs from the start.

    Electoral politics in practice is, what is called in the US about ‘nickels and dimes’: You piece together your support by making small concessions here and there until you have enough on the day to get a majority. The Trump campaign did that by focussing on winning, no matter how narrowly, swing states with big electoral college vote allocations. He got more than 3 million less votes than Mrs Clinton, but he won the electoral college comfortably.

    As things stand, YES is around 45% and there is probably around 15/20% of don’t knows or very doubtful NO voters available. The unionist strategy is to play to the fears of the NOes to avoid them switching and to sew disenchantment amongst the don’t knows so that they abstain. Project Fear was a negative campaign for that very reason.

    Project Fear has continued since 2014 and is waged daily – the BBC has a headline again about missed NHS targets.

    Mr Welsh has produced a hefty and well-thought out tome – some parts make me squirm. Commonweal has a well-researched book – again, I have doubts about some parts. We have plenty of ideas from 2014. So, let us seek to ‘nickel and dime’ in a positive, constructive and optimistic way to a majority.

    • Robert Graham says:

      Yep everything else is just a distraction loved by the MSM to try and force division.
      Keep it Simple Independence first the rest will follow .

      • Tell the people what an INDEPENDENT SCOTLAND would not be spending our taxes on, eg trident, houses of parliament, foreign wars and many others.

  3. Robert Graham says:

    Well said Paul.

    It’s a discussion document as pointed out by Nicola yesterday when she was interviewed on Poliico during her visit to the EU .

    Her visit I believe was to confirm Scotland is not England and as such doesn’t behave like them , we don’t try to bargain away any other countries resources and definitely not without their express permission , I mean that’s just bad manners .

    As always keep it simple Independence first then we argue not the other way round , without the first there is NO second it’s that simple .

    Slightly o/t how considerate of SKY news to give over so much time even including some Tory arse wipe to let us know how brilliant Ruth the mooth is apparently she is going to give a speech on Scotlands future after Brexit , well thats f/n great eh a MSP with responsibility for nothing but talking total pish , gets the banner headline treatment like any world leader Christ can this get any more Like Alice in wonderland ,
    she is going to speak about our future eh you really need to be in government dear to propose a change to our future it’s how stuff works . Sorry no Cigar .

  4. Graham says:

    Thank you, Paul, for saying this so bluntly. It needed said. The fake-pure ideological zealots are an embarrassment and a bloody hindrance. Their ego is preventing them from getting in line behind a mass movement, because they believe only their lofty beliefs are correct. Naive, immature, stupid, childish, and beyond tiresome. They need to screw the nut. NOW.

  5. Andy Anderson says:

    I new this would happen, it always does. For God’s sake lets win the Independence referendum first and then we can via our Government lobby for specifics we want, democratically.

    How often do you have to say to folk “for Christ sake, calm doon, specific policies later”.

    The growth report was not written by AN Other it was written by the SNP, no one else, they paid for it. Strangely enough it gives an SNP view, imagine that. They will use this report to firm up policies. The report is a discussion document.

    Your article is spot on Paul. Loved your letter to Ruthie

  6. George Wylie says:

    You obviously are capable of reading my mind. Excellent Post. Released to promote debate and discussion, the Growth Report certainly has achieved its objective. Hope, however, the professional scribes will take your advice. Keep up the good work!


    George Wylie


  7. jamescaine709 says:

    The main problem for the radical left and RISE and indeed for the radical right aka Colonel Ruth is that Scotland on the whole just ain’t that radical. We’re a left of centre country with a social conscience and like being that way.

    • Andy Anderson says:


      • Robert Graham says:

        me as well ,this lot caused damage we are still experiencing eg lost majority in holyrood , at least this time most of us are prepared and that wont happen again.

    • Craig P says:

      Agreed also.

      The choice in politics is whether to argue for a better world (signpost) or give the ignorant feckers what they think they want (weathervane).

      There’s space for both in persuading people towards independence. There’s space for weathervanes only in arguing for the union.

  8. Macart says:

    Well said.

    I’d say nothing is more outright idiotic or self centred than a statement of ‘my independence or no independence’.

    There is no ‘my independence’. It’s OUR independence. It belongs to all of us. The rich, the poor, the young and the old. It belongs to the radical left and the more conservative (whatever they are). It belongs to those who want the freedom to choose.

    It belongs to ALL of us.

    ALL under one banner. That was quite the gathering earlier this month. Folk from every walk of life. I, personally, didn’t consider its title a serving suggestion. It’s not a complicated concept as philosophies go and one where, whatever that walk of life, you get to hold out a hand and stand together because of a principle worth having. The freedom and the inalienable right to choose. Pretty heady stuff I thought.

    Indy first and last. Secure our rights. Give people the power to make informed choices and then work on and make those choices to suit your needs.

    No power. No choice.

    • Therapymum says:

      Well said. I have to say I’ve been a bit surprised about the negative comment about the Growth Commission Report from Yessers. I expected it would be trashed by the unionists, predominantly to demoralise the Indy vote, but find it difficult to understand the motivations of other indy supporters. Ideology, however, does to some extent explain it.

      It was quite clear that the report was a discussion document, not policy. There will be ample opportunity to discuss various aspects of the report and come to a consensus over the summer, but that means actually participating, not carping from the sidelines. The thing I have been most heartened about is that the FAI and the Growth Report both reinforce the idea that we are a wealthy country and could make a guid fist of independence. We might have some bridges to cross, but at least we know what they are and can devise plans for those eventualities.

      I hope I can get to some of these discussions across the country. It’s exciting, positive and I hope we can grab the opportunities with both hands!

      • Macart says:

        Sorry for the delay in getting back Therapymum. Been off on my travels yesterday. 🙂

        I’m not surprised at the response personally. It’s done just as it was intended to do on several fronts politically and internally. Most of all though, it’s kicked off discussion. The kneejerk reaction of one or two in the Indy camp was, in my opinion, both expected and necessary.

        It underlines quite nicely the FACT that we’re not a slavish cult and never were. Independence is far bigger than a single party. It bodes well for an independent Scotland that there is more than one vision of how best to proceed. That in an independent Scotland more than one vision will be presented to Scotland’s electorate and from many different sources. I agree, it is exciting and positive. As a beginning of the discussion process it leaves little for policy gonks and meeja to snark over and gives us a lot to talk about.

        Independence isn’t the or an end. It’s the means to an end. 🙂

  9. Well said and so much better expressed than I could ever do! Independence is what matters, first and foremost. What the Nation of Scotland looks like AFTER Independence is a matter for discussion, debate and electoral campaign … AFTER Independence has been achieved, not before! “We must all hang together for if we do not, we will assuredly hang individually!” (I apologise to Winnie, who is probably spinning in his grave at my appropriation of his pithy comment!)

  10. Neil Anderson says:

    For balance, THIS article appears in the National today, proving capitalism can provide insulting & nonsensical input too, and seemingly pointed straight at having a massive ideological argument right now.. Before Independence!


    Some of the replies in this forum for risk falling into the same self destructive pattern.

    “We are prepared & that won’t happen again” says Robert. The Holyrood Majority was lost because of ‘this lot’?
    By implication, you must be one of ‘that lot’. You know, the ones who think they know better than the rest of us, and think they’re entitled to be followed anywhere because they are the real oracles. No? If not you might want to consider what ‘this lot’ will feel like when they see the comment. You may think we can spare them. I don’t think we can spare either of you.

    The ‘fake-pure ideological zealots’ you speak of are our comrades Graham, at least until independence. The only thing anyone agreed to is independence. It was on an ‘All of us first’ basis, so they are on an exact par with you and me.
    Like Paul says, “We all own this movement”. That’s all of us. Not just the province Indy people who are not ‘them’. Nobody gets to tell anyone else to ‘get in line’. If I don’t like your tactics I’ve no intention of falling into line. If I think what I choose to do is more likely to move us towards independence I’ll do that instead.

    For one thing I don’t think personal insults or unsupported challenges to comrades core beliefs are productive. Quite the opposite. So I won’t do that. Choose for yourselves if you want to follow that policy. I wouldn’t imagine everyone will ‘fall into line’, but that’s OK. You never promised compliance.

    So the report is a discussion document. Let’s discuss it like adults. From my viewpoint things look different from yours. Debate if you want, but pissing people off with name calling IS egotistical in itself. It presumes you’re right and they’re wrong. Q.E.D.

    Either we all take the chill pill or we could be sunk.

    The article in the National will be seen by some as a straightforward attack on Socialists & Socialism. Do you really think independence is likely if we totally alienate ANY group within the movement?

    Do you think Socialists are here at all other than as part of a route, real or imagined, to eventual Socialism (however each might define it).

    If told your own eventual vision of a better vision of a better Scotland is totally ruled out in favour of something you see could just represent more of the same – a Holyrood trough instead of a Westminster trough, & independence would guarantee that, why would you continue.

    Carry on attacking other people in the movement who hold different opinions on tactics or principles & we WILL lose everything. Gaining lots of new support means nothing if you lose even more from the support you already have.

    There is certainly a debate to be had. Many on the left have kept their counsel following the independence first route, in common with many of us commenting here. Following the issue of the GCR many helpful comments have been made all round, & as usual some utter tosh from all wings.

    We either get some self discipline all round or we might crash & burn.


  11. markrussell20085017 says:

    Sagacious, generous and as always, worthy of careful consideration. As Aristotle remarked, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. It was always thus, just as now.

    From what little I remember of Greek philosophy, I’m sure the old boy had a wee dug too.

    Not the only coincidence in my book. Nail-on-head.

  12. […] via We all own this movement […]

  13. Dan Huil says:

    Great article from WGD.

    First things first: independence

  14. Hamish Kirk says:

    Pulling down the Union Flag and hoisting the Saltire is not enough The aim is to get a better,more just, equitabvle and decent society – not one where some go to Fettes and some to Ainslie Park.

    • Andy Anderson says:

      What you appear to be looking for Hamish will never happen. The issue is human nature, individuals drive and intelligence. We as a free country will need wealth creators to create jobs who in turn pay taxes as a business and the employees as individuals. Without wealth nothing is possible unless you are in a commune, even there money is needed.

      First you need to pull down the Union flag, hoist ours and then set up the institutions we want. As a people we are left leaning but also hard workers, we will get a fair and just society but it will take time. Having said that no society is 100% perfect.

      The key message in Pauls article is to not rock the boat and give our enemies ammo to attack us with. No matter what just vote to be free. We are all entitled to our opinions, you and me.

      All the best.

  15. epicyclo says:

    I don’t care what’s in that paper. It’s just a direction a political party has projected.
    It’s good to have a plan, but we can sort all the housekeeping when we have the house.

  16. Hear Hear Paul. Wise words.

  17. Shagpile says:

    Ideology and independence. OK, how will the present unionist parties transform themselves Post yes in Indyref II? What will THEY stand for? Could they be trusted to form a government to implement the mandate on independence?

    Realistically, I see no alternative to an SNP government as the first for an independent Scotland.

    Why is it therefore acceptable to demand of the SNP how they would govern in both scenarios, ie union and independence and not those unionist parties?

    It’s like the elephant on the room.

    Who will govern and implement policies in an independent Scotland? The answer is… who ever the Scottish people elect. Just as we do now for our devolved parliament. I don’t see the problem in that.

  18. Bill Dale says:

    All progressive parties care for other people – that is one of the things that makes them progressive. The reason that so many splits have happened in such movements all over the world, is that people, quite logically for them, see what they regard as injustice and desperately want to fix it. This results in a plethora of policies and single issue movements, all with a valid reason to believe that their priorities should be the overall priorities. This is why it has been so easy for the establishment to divide progressives. Publicise differences of opinion on policy, hire a few disgruntled progressives and hey presto, job done. Sound familiar?

    The establishment priority is, and always has been, to gain and retain power. We need to keep the overall goal in mind, which Paul has stated so clearly ATL. If we remain at the level of progressive values, then we can all agree that supporting these values is the priority, and all discussion of policies and the like is counter-productive unless we have the ability to implement policy. Either support each other, no matter our individual priorities, or feel good about your intellectual and moral superiority to others, while surrendering the opportunity to ever be in a position to influence, far less implement policy.

    Focus on campaigning for self-determination. Everthing else is a distraction.

    Choose Scotland – Big enough. Smart enough. Rich enough.

  19. Caroline Grant says:

    Independence first. After we have achieved that we can argue everything else when we hold our first elections.

  20. Marconatrix says:

    Well said, and I suppose it needed saying. How can we aim for a supportive and inclusive Scotland if we don’t begin with a supportive and inclusive Indy movement? To use a quote that has somehow swum into my addled brain from somewhere :

    “I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours!”

    Fair enough?

  21. Angry Weegie says:

    It was disappointing to see some yessers whose first, indeed only, reaction was to rubbish a discussion document on the basis of one aspect they didn’t like, without even a nod to parts they agreed with.

    We even had some who decided they weren’t going to play because they didn’t like the discussion document.

    How many ‘independence’ supporters are only interested in the yes movement as a means to bring about some left or right wing paradise and not independence for its own sake?

    I hope the answer is very few, but events over the past few days have made me wonder.

  22. wm says:

    The groweth report is just that, it is a report to be discussed, and that can only be a good starting point. The problem is that it is a complicated piece of work that probably seventy to eighty percent of voters find difficult to completely understand. This is used by the MSM as a tool to devide and conquer, even when most of them don’t have a clue, the faceless ones operating their journalists to acheive this by printing any lie they can think of, they have been deviding people for years.

  23. Jan Cowan says:

    Sound, good sense, Paul. Let’s hope your advice is taken.

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