There’s always a lot of talk online amongst independence supporters about the nefarious activities of the British state and the intelligence services. For the most part, these stories are nothing more than the speculations of those who know that just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you. The aim of the intelligence services is to counter threats to the state, the Scottish independence movement is not a terrorist organisation, it’s not illegal or law breaking, but it certainly represents one of the biggest threats to the interests of the British establishment. In terms of risk assessment to British interests, there are few greater than the Scottish independence movement. Ours is a movement which spells the end of British rule over 32% of the land mass of the UK, taking with it the great majority of the UK’s natural resources. And despite a constant barrage of SNPbaddery in the British press, support for independence is not going away.
I have no information at all about whether the British state is involved in concerted attempts to derail the independence movement, but what I do know is that if the intelligence services and the British state that they serve were not infiltrating the independence movement with the aim of causing divisions and upsets, they’d not be doing their job. Personally I don’t find it useful or helpful to speculate about this, that way madness and tinfoil hats lie. However what we can most certainly be assured of is that whether or not there is any intelligence service involvement in the current divisions within the independence movement, the British intelligence services will most certainly be looking on with great satisfaction as independence supporters devote their time and energies to tearing lumps out of one another. Job done.
Just look at us. Here we are in the middle of an epidemic which appears set to go on for weeks if not months. Thousands of people may die. Hundreds of thousands of jobs may be lost. It is simply not realistic for there to be a referendum, indeed even any sort of ballot, when the population is stuck at home in a lockdown designed to prevent our already over stretched NHS from being overwhelmed by the sick and the dying. And here we are, independence supporters spending most of their time and energy attacking other independence supporters for a supposed lack of ideological purity. Get a fucking grip. And that comment is directed at both sides in this debate. It’s directed both to those who continue to make insinuations about Alex Salmond and to those who attack everyone who in their eyes hasn’t sufficiently defended him.
Who benefits when a significant part of the independence movement attacks Alex Salmond and his supporters? British nationalism. Who benefits when a significant part of the independence movement devotes itself to attacking Nicola Sturgeon and her supporters? British nationalism. The factionalism and infighting within the independence movement and the SNP needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. That applies to Nicola Sturgeon’s inner circle, to Alex Salmond’s defenders, to pro-independence bloggers who spend all their time attacking the current First Minister, to the legions of online independence supporters who now spend their time sniping at one another instead of promoting a positive vision of independence and undermining the arguments of apologists for the British state. It applies to all of us.
We all need to take a step back and realise that in our eagerness to promote our own particular interests within the movement we are damaging the movement as a whole. The movement belongs to all of us, to all of Scotland, or it belongs to no one. In any a mass movement there are going to be opinions and voices that you disagree with. It wouldn’t be a mass movement otherwise. If we can’t learn tolerance and acceptance for one another within this movement, it is a poor reflection on the kind of Scotland we are able to offer those people who hold the real key to independence, those soft no voters and undecideds that we seek to persuade. That means that all of us have to be willing to offer the olive branch, to refrain from pointing to the faults and sins of those we disagree with, and instead reflect upon ourselves and our own actions.
The Achilles heel of socialist organisations has always been that they’ve been prone to internal divisions. One group would fall out with another group because of a perceived lack of ideological purity, because of a disgreement over a minor point of doctrine. And before you know it you’ve got a myriad of tiny little left wing groups each of which has zero influence, and the rapacious capitalists who were the original target of socialists are laughing all the way to the bank. That’s exactly what we are in danger of right now in the Scottish independence movement. Our divisions are just so many deposits in the bank of British nationalism.
We have made real breakthroughs as a movement. Independence is no longer a marginal cause. It’s a real prospect. We have managed to convince half the population of this country that independence is needed now, and have convinced far more than half that independence is going to happen at some point in the future. What we are currently witnessing within the movement are the strains that result as Scottish independence moves out of the margins and into the mainstream. It means that the main party of independence is now an attractive home for careerists. It means that those who have been in this for the long haul resent the arrivistes. It means that we start to fall out with one another about our visions for that long anticipated independent Scotland now that it hovers on the horizon.
The SNP has always been prone to factionalism and infighting, while it was a party on the margins no one really much cared. Even when it transformed into a party of Scottish government the factionalism could be contained and managed. However as we stand on the edge of a transformative change in Scotland that takes us into majority support for independence, that factionalism, infighting, and division becomes a serious problem. It infects the entire independence movement. So when I say get a fucking grip, above all it’s the top echelons of the SNP that need to get a grip of themselves. If their egos, ambitions, and careers are allowed to come before achieving independence, the movement will not forgive the party.
There is absolutely nothing that any of the rest of us can do about the divisions between Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, that is a dispute which will resolve itself in the fullness of time. But what we can do is to ensure that we keep our eyes on the main prize and refuse to allow those divisions to infect the rest of this movement that we’ve all put so much into. Scotland deserves better than an independence movement that does the job of the British state by devoting itself to nuturing internal divisions and resentments.
We all want the same thing. We all want independence for Scotland. We are all united by the belief that Scotland is best served by a government which is accountable to the people of this country. We are all united in the belief that the natural resources with which Scotland is blessed and the talents of her people are best used in order to improve the lives and opportunities of all of us in this wet, green, and beautiful land. We should not to making our opponents happy that we’re doing their job for them, we should be devoting our time and efforts into making the case for independence.
And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…
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