Priorities

We need to learn from Catalonia. Catalonia provides an inspiration to Scotland, but it also provides a warning. Catalonia gives us a warning about what happens when an independence movement falls prey to infighting and internal divisions and doesn’t keep its eye focussed on the main prize, the prize of the better country that can only be achieved with independence. When elements within the independence movement fall out with one another over differing visions of independence, the only beneficiaries are opponents of independence, those who don’t want any version of independence at all. Right now the Catalan independence movement has lost its momentum, the Spanish state criminalises prominent voices within the movement, while those remaining at liberty fall out over tactics and strategy.

In Scotland the British state might not be threatening anyone in the independence movement with jail, but the British state is the winner when Scottish independence supporters attack one another over different visions of what they want Scottish independence to achieve. It’s self-harming, the only force which is damaged is the independence movement. When we focus on our disagreements with one another we only make it less likely that there will be any version of an independent Scotland. That’s why the anti-independence press is giving massive publicity to even marginal figures within the movement who have issues with the Growth Commission report. Media outlets which are opposed to independence don’t do that because they want to promote a diversity of voices within the independence movement.

No one is demanding that we must all get 100% behind the SNP Growth Commission’s report, but the way to deal with your disagreements with it is to develop and publicise your own visions of what an independent Scotland could be and not to give ammunition to those who want to preserve the inequalities and injustices of the British state. Accusing other independence supporters of betrayal because they don’t happen to support your own particular vision of what an independent Scotland could be doesn’t make it any more likely that your own vision of an independent Scotland can become a reality. It makes it less likely. It only makes it more likely that all of us will remain subject to the vagaries of British rule and dependent upon the vague hope that voters in the rest of the UK and the right wing British press might one day consent to a government that’s left of centre.

Let’s be real here, if you are pinning all your hopes on Jeremy Corbyn you’re in for a big disappointment. Jeremy Corbyn may very well preach a radical redistribution and campaign for a serious attempt to redress the gross inequality that blights the UK – I don’t doubt his sincerity on that score – but the fact is that even when faced with the most inept, incompetent, malicious and mendacious Conservative government in living memory, he’s still incapable of taking a lead over them in the opinion polls. That may very well be because of the unfairness of a British media which doesn’t give the left a fair crack of the whip, independence supporters know all about that, but it’s not going to get any easier for him during an election campaign. The truth is that during the next General Election the Tories will be led by a shiny new leader who will be benefiting from a honeymoon period with the press. Jezza will be yesterday’s man and yesterday’s news and his own contradictions and evasions on Brexit will have caught up with him. His best chance of getting elected was in the General Election last year.

England is a country which historically tends to vote Conservative. The last time that Labour was able to get elected in England it could only do so by transforming itself into the Tories, and we got Tony Blair. Scotland on the other hand has a centre left majority. So ask yourself, which country is more likely to vote in a left wing government? Which country is more likely to repeatedly vote for left wing governments? It’s a no-brainer.

We already have two very different papers on the economic potential of an independent Scotland, there’s the SNP Growth Commission report, and there’s the Common Weal book on How to Start a New Country. If you disagree with the report received by the SNP, a report which is, let us not forget, a discussion paper and not official government policy, then publicise and promote the more radical and ambitious proposals put forward by Common Weal. Or there is nothing to prevent you from developing proposals of your own. Scotland is, after all, a democracy, and it will still be a democracy after we achieve independence. We have two well developed, coherent, and well thought out proposals on how to develop the economy of Scotland with independence. There is nothing remotely comparable from the anti-independence side. The priority here is to attack British nationalists for their failure to produce coherent and realistic plans to develop Scotland within the UK, not for supporters of one vision of an independent Scotland to attack supporters of a different vision.

What this independence movement is about above all is Scottish democracy. It’s not about the particulars of policy. It’s not about whether an independent Scotland is a monarchy or a republic. It’s not about whether an independent Scotland is a member of the EU or not. It’s not about whether we have our own currency or we continue to use the pound. Independence is about one thing and one thing only. It’s about who gets to choose the direction Scotland takes, who gets to decide what sort of country Scotland is, who gets to elect the government that makes Scotland’s laws. Fundamentally it’s about who is the sovereign body in Scotland. Should that be the people of Scotland, or should it be a Parliament on the banks of the Thames in which Scottish representatives are a permanent minority which can be sidelined, ignored, and marginalised. That’s what this debate is about – it’s not about currency or tax policies. It’s about who gets to decide about currency or tax policies. We support independence because we believe that it should be for the people of Scotland to make those choices.

Those of us who place ourselves on the left of politics should support Scottish independence because in the real world there is a far better chance of the electorate in an independent Scotland voting in a left of centre government. In an independent Scotland there is a much better and more realistic prospect of successive governments which adopt and develop policies which tackle inequality instead of encouraging it. It’s all very well arguing about what the priorities of an independent Scotland must be, but before that can happen we must first establish the principle that the people of Scotland should be governed by a government which they elect and which is answerable to the people of Scotland. Otherwise we’re all stuck with Tory rule, Brexit, the widening social inequalities and injustices of a British state which seeks to ape the worst aspects of the USA, and pinning all our hopes on the vague hope that voters in England might just choose to elect a Labour government for a change. Let’s take our destiny into our own hands.


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52 comments on “Priorities

  1. Well said, Paul. It’s a shame you are having to expend so much energy on this.
    The blinkered need to get a grip!

    • And there we had it in FMQ’s today – our opponents lining up to attack Nicola and try to drive a wedge into the independence cause. She, of course, was having none of it but it would have been far better if she didn’t need to defend the independence movement squabblings as well.

  2. […] Wee Ginger Dug Priorities We need to learn from Catalonia. Catalonia provides an inspiration to Scotland, but it […]

  3. David says:

    I imagine the beginning of an indy Scotland where we all hold hands & celebrate before departing on many different political journeys that will contribute to the healthy dynamism of our new democracy. We will all still be Jock Tamson’s Bairns but Jock Tamson will have a nation.

  4. Graeme Timoney says:

    The thing I have noticed since the Growth Commission Report was published is that the narrative has changed to a more positive point of view. Even on the political chat shows the pundits are now arguing over whether we should for example keep the pound for ten years or go with our own currency from day one. This new viewpoint seems to me to have accepted that we will be independent and it’s now a matter of how we go forward as an independent country and not should we.
    If the report has indeed made people start to discuss the detail of our future in a more positive way then it has done a great job. It is no longer about if but about when.

  5. carolclark1 says:

    Well Paul, as you say, the growth commission report is a discussion document, and it seems to have achieved it’s aim. People certainly are discussing it. For me, it’s kinda like the curate’s egg, good in places. I don’t agree with the currency proposals at all. Why tie yourself to sterling, when in all probability, if we declare our independence, the pound sterling will tank. I like some parts of common weal’s proposals too. It’s up to us surely, to discuss all of the options, and say where we go from there.

    I feel sad at the way some folk are behaving, it’s ma baw and you’re no playin wi it. Doesn’t help at all. We have a great chance this time of winning. No status quo, Independence or brexit, that’s how stark it is. A bit frightening the brexit bit, god help us all.

    Come on everyone, shooders tae the wheel. Eyes on the prize, Indy first, and then we can make our own choices for this wonderful Scotland of our.

  6. Ewen A. Morrison says:

    I’m a regular follower of yours: I’d like to thank you for your constantly honest and accurate articles – don’t you wonder at how many Scots seem to have their ‘heads in the sand’? Our progress towards regaining independence is gradually progressing, thankfully, in spite of our uncertain friends! Our best and most truly alert people need to be more accessible to the electorate! If our Scotland had an honest and honourable mainstream media, we’d have little to complain about. We evidently don’t! Anyway, moran taing! (many thanks!)

    Ewen

  7. Andy Anderson says:

    It amazes me that every time a new report or initiative occurs the usual suspects kick off saying ‘ah but, am no happy wi this’. Who cares!! Just vote Yes on the day, we can sort out policies later in a democratic way. Bin London first.

    As for Mr Fox of the SSP, in the National the other day, saying no left policies means he cannot vote for indy. What a buffoon. Scotland is unlikely to go ‘far left’, nor is the UK Mr Fox but at least in a free Scotland you have a chance of getting good social policies that put people first. Communism does not work.

    Every time we write articles like yours Paul readers just do not get the message!!. Why oh why can’t people get the main message which is FREEDOM first. It would be better if those people just sucked their thumbs instead of helping the opponents of independence.

    Please, please, get a grip if you are stuck with a view that puts you off the cause. Yes first.

    • Robert Harrison says:

      Let’s look at the ssp they are not even elected in holyrood so they definitely putting ideas forward instead of moaning from the sidelines leave that to the backstabbing British nationalists.

      • wm says:

        What do the ssp want a left of centre Scottish goverment or Wm’s better together mob no matter whether it is red or blue it will be centre right British Nationalist.

        • Robert Harrison says:

          I’m been wondering the same thing hence why the ssp need to bring forward what there plans are instead of moaning from the side like britnats do.

    • Clydebuilt says:

      I’m concerned that the National’s Bellacaledonia magazine contained Shaffi and Boyd’s attack on the “Growth Report” , with Mike Small’s illogical editorial giving his reasons for doing so.
      The day the G. R. Came out the headline on the letters page was . . . Growth is Bad.
      What’s going on at the paper?, a successful blogger has labelled it as a Trojan Horse. I’m beginning to wonder!

  8. Robert Harrison says:

    Exactly the main thing we should all agree on is independance give us a right to chose our own way over our future sure we have different ideas over how it’s don’t but as Paul is basically saying is don’t turn into conservatives when you don’t agree with a different idea on independance just discuss dont just dismiss it stright away as it usually leads to a better idea or comprise which we can use against the traitors who want our nation under England rule forever.

  9. Mike Lothian says:

    I think I have to disagree with one point about Jeremy Corbyn. During an election campaign (which we saw last time) there are rules in place to insure fairness. I think that’s why Labour increased in the polls over that period. I’m sure the MSM will be working hard to make sure they both appear to abide by the rules whilst subverting them but it gives him more of a fighting chance.

    • Mike, there were rules in the Indyref for fairness, that were kicked into touch as soon as it looked that we might win! If you think that the MSM will abide by the rules should the Establishment come under any sort of threat is, to me, naive.

      • Robert Harrison says:

        Exactly thats when the vow which was there trump card came into play they played dirty in indyref1 it will be worse come indyref2 they will be even dirtier in there tactics as they fear losing.

    • Jo says:

      Hi Mike
      As well as the hostile UK media Corbyn’s biggest problem is that the PLP has it in for him. They are the most treacherous mob ever and will happily sabotage their own Party’s chances to bring him down.

  10. paul mccormack says:

    I just find the repetition of history in my lifetime unbelievable in that there are those in Scotland who would still fall for it again and again… the Parliamentary road to Socialism…

    Aye, right.

    (it even sounds ancient like one of Aesop’s fables)

    • Brian Fleming says:

      Let’s just hope the ‘parliamentary rodr to Independence’ works out better. If not, Scotland will be in the position of Ireland 100 years ago. What’s the odds against the emergence of a Scottish Sinn Fein?

  11. alanm says:

    I’m a bit of a hardliner on this subject. I still believe “it’s Scotland’s oil” even though nobody in the SNP has spoken those words since the 1970’s. I’m a big football fan but can’t bring myself to watch the World Cup on tv because I know all we’ll get from the BBC & ITV is “England this, England that” with loads of references to 1966 thrown in for good measure. I’m into politics but I don’t buy any “Scottish” newspapers because I don’t want to waste hard-earned cash on propaganda. The SNP doesn’t do nearly enough to hold the tv companies and the press to account over any of that.

    In short, there are loads of things the SNP should be doing but aren’t. That said, one thing is certain, I’d never vote for anyone else this side of Scotland’s first Independence Day celebration.

    • Robert Harrison says:

      Because right now the snp are the only ones right for the job as let’s be honest before the snp in 07 we never really had a proper Frist minister as they was nothing but blairs little bicth.

    • FM says:

      When they highlight the inequality and misrepresentation within the press they are vilified for trying to silence the press. We are dealing with a superb state machine.

      • Robert Harrison says:

        That’s the main problem when trying to hold the English to account for all the wrong England’s done the moment you do they play the victim and the BBC is half the problem for that cultural mindset south of the border.

  12. Iona says:

    Well said, Paul. I hope they are listening!

  13. Jon Southerington says:

    Excellent. I think a priority for the coming referendum should be to lay out in clear and simple terms, what the current UK is, what it does, and the damage it does to the people of Scotland. This was missing in 2014. Also the next Yes campaign needs a press office led by an Alistair Campbell/Malcolm Tucker character, who would to follow the example of General George Patton, grab the opposition by the throat and kick them in the balls. The next referendum will be no holds barred battle to the end.

    Yes then, yes now, yes always.

  14. Patience is a Virtue says:

    ‘It’s about who gets to choose the direction Scotland takes, who gets to decide what sort of country Scotland is, who gets to elect the government that makes Scotland’s laws. Fundamentally it’s about who is the sovereign body in Scotland. Should that be the people of Scotland, or should it be a Parliament on the banks of the Thames in which Scottish representatives are a permanent minority which can be sidelined, ignored, and marginalised. That’s what this debate is about ‘

  15. Regarding currency. My son and family live in the Rep. of Ireland, he works in the Republic and is paid in euros, his wife works in N. I. and is paid in pounds. All businesses use both pounds and euros on both sides of the border.

  16. Illy says:

    “Fundamentally it’s about who is the sovereign body in Scotland. Should that be the people of Scotland, or should it be” [the people of England]. Because lets be honest here, Westminster is ruled by England.

    Betcha asking the question that way would raise some eyebrows.

  17. Macart says:

    Independence is not an end. It’s the means to an end. It’s the beginning of a Scotland yet to be, with all the possibilities and visions that entails. That Scotland waits on the other side of a YES vote.

    That Scotland has need of all visions and ideas. That Scotland needs as diverse a society and plurality of progressive political views as we can summon. That Scotland needs only one thing to make it happen. Your belief in the principle of self determination. That principle should bind all of us under one banner. Don’t you think? That principle should unify the rich and the poor. The radical and the more conservative (with a small ‘c’). All parties, no parties. All creeds and all points of origin.

    The SNP as the government of the day, may very well be our first government of an independent Scotland, but in the history we hope to write for ourselves from that day forward? It most certainly won’t be the last.

    As I’ve said more than once or twice, the SNP are gatekeepers. They can only hold that gate open for so long before Westminster government, desperate to consolidate its waning power and resource base and seeking to draw yet more constitutional power to itself, actively moves to close that gate and dump the key in the deepest trench in the ocean.

    Personally? I’m for kicking that gate off its hinges and leading a stampede through to the other side. I don’t care what part of the political or societal spectrum you come from. If you want that Scotland yet to be and believe, BELIEVE, in self determination and the freedom to choose? I’ll happily hold out my hand and haul your wossiname through. 🙂

  18. duncanio says:

    We’ve been getting divided and conquered for over 300 years – time some of our Indy supporters learned the history of the British state.

  19. Arthur thomson says:

    I have read Robin McALpine ‘s thoughts on the Growth Commission report and I am perplexed – as no doubt are many other independence supporters. I am prepared to believe that Robin and some others simply, genuinely disagree with what has been floated and want it changed in everyone’s interests. Let the discussion begin. I am perplexed but nothing, not this, nor anything else would ever alter my support for independence. In fact I think that the controversy may serve us well.

    It would seem, however, that the faux left intelligentsia see this as their opportune moment to storm off and join her majesty’ s opposition. This was always coming. They always saw themselves playing on the London stage. Scotland really isn’t big enough for people of their calibre. Their sense of superiority is something to behold. They are the ultimate British Nationalist followers of Jeremy, their spiritual leader.

    Words cannot express the contempt I feel for these people. They make the Tories appear principled.

    Fuck them and all the slaves who slope off with them.

  20. James Fleming says:

    Scotland’s biggest problem has always been that we’d sooner fight one another than present a united front against the external foe and then deal with the factional schisms internally. The left suffer from the same issue. It’s impossible to counter the gripes and carping from from certain factions of the indy movement without being accused of being enslaved to a cult, trying to shut down debate and hearing “wheesht for indy”. The irony of being told that you’re trying to stifle or censor debate by holding a different opinion is entirely lost on certain commentators.

    Whilst I wholeheartedly agree with Paul I do strongly believe that we are seeing the actions of a coordinated fifth column in a quite a few cases. You can spot them by the rote answers to any criticism of their carping and by how persistently their comments are anti – independence passing as anti snp and by how quickly the same names will jump in to back them up and hang up on anyone attempting to debate their criticism.

  21. Robert Graham says:

    As always the British state recruit and some cases fund trusted elements of any movement that does not fall under their control , thus a division is started most people here realised too late they were being duped by the line ” lend us your vote you are going to win anyway so what’s the harm ” Remember that ,and the people and a particular website who promoted that wee trap assisted by a right wing press
    The result was a lost majority and the party that caused the problem disappearing into the sunset job done , so forgive me for not falling for that line again , by all means they can plough their own furrow but not on the backs of real independence supporters , so they can f/k off right now every one of them without the brains to see they are being manipulated and used .

  22. Macart says:

    I don’t watch the Beeb, never mind QT, but this link to a segment is worth the watching. 🙂

    twitter.com/bbcquestiontime/status/1002316038371852288

  23. Ian W says:

    Debate is good – if done using a reasonable tone …if people use the ‘you’re feckin’ rubbish’ approach the debate becomes destructine ..

  24. Jason Smoothpiece says:

    Dont doubt for a second that the very worried and extreme British Nationalist regime will have agents in so called pro independence groups, they have done this in the past with groups ranging from foreign governments, strikers to national protest groups.

    They will pay well and will deploy such sleepers as and when required. The regimes agents will also supply a stream of information to the centre allowing the British Nationalist Government to be one step ahead at all times.

    This is additional to the electronic spying which any pro independence group or prominent pro independence individual will be subject to.

    If you have important information to impart dont use the phone or e-mail as no doubt it will be intercepted.

    If things get bad for the regime they will I am sure increasingly deploy the many Trojan horse’s will they have in position.

    If we think we are only up again a lying state and a lying media think again.

    • JGedd says:

      It’s important to be reminded of what you say regarding the political establishment but it is also important not to let ourselves be paralysed by paranoia and suspicion. That way, they still win.

      (Another interesting fact to remember, that in the 70s and 80s certain political activists on the left – for example, Peter Hain – were themselves targeted for special attention by the security forces and yet, eventually became staunch supporters of the establishment, like the aforementioned Mr Hain. It’s a story as old as humanity – people can be seduced by the promise of material advancement and It probably works better for the agents of the state than intimidation.)

      • Jason Smoothpiece says:

        Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they are not watching you.

        Forewarned is forearmed.

        I jest but seriously, we have to be aware of the dirty tricks the well practised centre will deploy as and when required, including well known independence supporters “seeing the light” and becoming pro regime.

        Watch this space.

    • A hoary old chestnut on the discussion forums is Bonaparte’s :- “Never interfere with your enemy when he is making a mistake.”
      Caroline Flint on QT last night spouting Jackie Baillie’s ‘line to take’ Project Fear Piffle on the Growth Commission’s Discussion Document, had us as poor as Greece once more, and Spain would block any application to join the EU.
      Oh yeah, and £5 billion a year tithe to England to use ‘their’ pound.
      Rajoy has gone and Liam Fox squirms on camera as Trump, that great special relation of England’s slams 25% tariff on steel.
      Post Br4exit the world is not waiting with open arms after all.
      BBC Scotland Stockade crammed a Perth Audience with middle class middle aged ‘Gammons’ in John Lewis checked shirts, who clapped ’til their soft professional hands stung at every SNP BAD Independence Shite barb.
      I take a back seat and look on for a few days as the good people of Fife, or should that be’fife’, fatten the calf and set out the Union Jack bunting to welcome Arlene and the Loyal Sons of the Garvaghy Road to the Kingdom.
      Willie Rennie will be beilin’ when he spots all those armed polis.
      Imagine the state of the UK in October when they cannot hid the truth about the Brexit disaster any more?
      Over a BBQ in the sun the other night, one of my neighbours offered me the ‘Sopranos’ Box Set to binge on.
      Others warned against it.
      I kid myself on that it keeps me away from TV and Newspapers for a while.
      It is like opening a Family Sized bag of dry roasted peanuts….Just one more handful, and then another, and then another.
      From what I can make out, the Sopranos is loosely based on the Tory Party…

      ‘Never interfere with your enemy when he is making a mistake.’
      Each day it unravels.

      • Macart says:

        This summer was always going to be the crunch Jack. A few more weeks.

        Take it you’ve read of Mr Davis’ 10 mile DMZ idiocy?

        Tick tock.

        • Complete with watchtowers and machine gun nests, no doubt.
          England has lost its head, as have John Lewis Shirt Gammons in Perth.
          Get the popcorn and the deck chairs out, Sam.

  25. Puzzled Puss says:

    Thanks for another excellent article. I think we’re seeing a lot of grandstanding just now from the usual suspects. At least we can get it over with at an early stage, and then get on with discussing the contents of the Growth Commission report, which is its purpose, after all.

  26. chicmac says:

    Oh Ra Joy!

    Now perhaps Catalunya can move forward on at last.

  27. Jack Kent says:

    I agree it is important not to lose sight of the goal of independence but if the growth report is indeed intended as a discussion document, then let us by all means discuss it. If we go into the next referendum on the basis of sterlingisation, we are tying our immediate future to the neoliberal austerity economics that got us, and the rest of the UK, into this mess in the first place. To use a currency we have no control over must raise the question of how independent Scotland would really be? Yes, there are many issues that should wait until after independence is achieved but this, surely, cannot be one of them. The economy is too fundamental to be carelessly brushed aside. I voted Yes in 2014 with a great sense of optimism. If we go forward on the basis of this growth plan, I’ll be voting with an altogether heavier heart.

  28. chicmac says:

    With growing anti-EU movements, most presently notable in Italy, the EU will be all the more determined to make Brexit an experience no one else will wish to emulate.

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