Most independence movements have the good sense to achieve independence before starting the civil war. Not so the Scottish National Party which is currently embroiled in a very public and very personal internecine bloodletting between the current leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her larger-than-life predecessor Alex Salmond. With a string of polls showing support for an independent Scotland averaging at around 52% and the SNP on course to increase its representation through forthcoming regional elections for the parliament in Holyrood, this bickering could not have come at a worse time.
Sturgeon seems to be in serious political and perhaps legal trouble, despite her undoubted popularity, and Salmond is doing further damage to his already tarnished reputation among a generation of SNP supporters who saw him as the man who put the Edinburgh government on a democratically equal footing with its previously dismissive counterpart in London – and almost won the country its independence against incredible odds. There is no doubt that the Scottish nationalist movement has been cleft in two by all this, at least in terms of SNP members or pro-independence activists who leaned that way whether out of conviction or because they saw the party as a convenient vehicle to achieve their goal of a free Scotland outside of the United Kingdom.
Of course throughout history other independence movements have experienced divisions before reaching their objectives, sometimes quite violently. One need only think back to early 20th century Ireland and the bitter rivalry between regionalist or home rule nationalists like the Irish Parliamentary Party and its separatist or republican nationalist rivals, an occasionally bloody contest for power and influence that may have turned much worse but for the outbreak of the First World War (and that’s leaving aside the question of conflict with the unionist bloc on the island). So we are in no place to judge.
At the moment the best that SNP members can hope for is an electorate that is willing to separate its aspirations or best interests at the ballot box from taking sides in the scandalous controversies at the top of the party. Taken together with the Scottish Green Party, that could possibly leave 60% of seats in the Scottish Parliament in nationalist hands after the elections in May, facing off against a minority clutch of pro-union MSPs from the Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem parties.
The thing to watch is the coming UK Constitutional Reformation and how successful it will be. And the financial/ commercial/ institutional success of Brexit and “Global UK.” They all have to work for Boris to have won the game.
By the noises coming from the Tories, centralisation is the next big thing. Reverse devolution. Can’t see London getting away with it. That horse has well and truly bolted.
The split between the two has created a mixture of disbelief, bewilderment and sadness within the independence camp. But when I look at the timeline it makes me suspicious.
Alex Salmond anounced in Oct 2017 that he was to be chair of Johnston Press, he announced it by saying that the Scotsman newspaper would become more pro Scotland and that the Yorkshire Post would become more pro Yorkshire. He didn’t mention what the other 300 titles would be doing. Losing control to such a person, a sepratist. Could they really let that come to pass?
The harassment procedure the civil service were following was all a bit hasty, half baked and flawed.
The top positions in the civil service are London appointed, the government ministers get to choose from a preselected offering. It is then an easy matter to get a steady stream of intelligence and set divisions. It is human nature and it’s flaws that allow for opportunity to create division. The top legal people are even called Crown Agents. One in particular takes my attention, David Harvie but no doubt the place will be peppered with them.
Discrediting the political government, the civil government and the legal government in one maneuvre is impressive and entirely on westminsters wish list. The tory party are wanting to centralise and get rid of devolution.
I doubt many of us will live long enough to see the truth, however some indications may come in the honours lists in the years to come. Keep a look out for Evans, Lloyd, Prentice, Richards, Harvie, MacKinnon and Wolfe.
David Harvie the Crown Agent was for ten years an MI5 operative before moving into a foreign and colonial office role. As Crown Agent you might suspect that he is still an MI5 agent.
Then take a look at the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans. Northern Ireland born she is London’s top civil servant in Scotlantbnotionally responsible to the First Minister.
Or what of Police Scotland. Take a look at the executive management team. Full of non Scots with backgrounds in, you guessed it, military intelligence, military police, ex Met with focus on security and terrorism, and even an ex chief constable with 27 years service with the Royal Ulster Constabulary, then the UK National Crime Agency before joining Police Scotland. Together with many senior officers from forces down south it’s an eclectic mix.
No surprise therefore that between the jigs and the reels there could, just on the remotest of remote chances, be externally motivated actors keen to undermine a successful, hugely successful Independence Party from within.
Bully, brutalise, blackmail or bribe it’s and old tried and tested trick. Control the media too. Throw in a few spoilers as well. But not of course in Scotland.
Alex Salmond, the man who ran them close in 2014 couldn’t have him coming back with the polls sitting between 52% and 58% for independence. Nor can we countenance folks like Joanna Cherry QC MP who reversed in the Supreme Court the queen’s royal assent on a bill passed as an Act of Parliament. No couldn’t have people like her at the fore – she’d only want to pursue constitutional legal argument for Scottish independence, so sack her.
And of police action it might come as a surprise that Police Scotland deployed around thirty officers for nearly two years interviewing over 400 witnesses trying to garner evidence against Mr Salmond on thirteen charges of which he was acquitted. Of course the Alex Salmond police team are still extant as they pursue, in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service criminal prosecutions against journalists and independence supporters like Mark Hirst ( discharged eight months later with no case answer ) or Craig Murray, ( ex British ambassador set up and removed from position on surprise, surprise, sex allegations after criticising UK policy on accepting torture) Craig Murray five weeks after his trial in the High Court before three judges still awaits their decision.
Ah Alan Gordon, you may be onto something but how could you think of it from the Mother of All Parliaments and the world’s finest democracies. It’s unthinkable.
LikeLiked by 1 person
And then one might also want to bear in mind that the evening Alex Salmond solicitors in the matter of the judicial review case ( ie the illegal and biased civil case ) intimated they were that next morning seeking a publicity injunction, someone in governmental and or police and or the Crown Office gave a leak to the Daily Record who then splashed the story front page.
The investigating press ICCO concluded that it was a criminal leak emanating from one of 23 sources. Have the Police Investigated it, has the First Minister asked for the police to investigate it, has she had a civil service investigation into it. Of course not – but the Police Scotland Alex Salmond Team two years on are now investigating ex Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill MP into how he got copies of emails between civil servants, spads, and senior party officials where apparently they talk about things like having a plan, where we can be anonymous, if the police don’t have the evidence let them tell us and we’ll get it, time to involve the Met, the more fronts he’s fire fighting the better.
But why are these texts being withheld from public view. Who is driving all of this. And why are the police now pursuing Kenny MacAskill. Could it be because he is another MP who supports independence. Or is it just British democracy and fair play so well understood the colonies of the world over.
And for Irish readers there are some excellent Scottish blog sites making some very good commentary such as the Wings Over Scotland by Stuart Campbell, Yours For Scotland by Iain Lawson, Random Public Journal by Jason Michael McCann, and Gordon Dangerfield solicitor Advocate.
Wings over Scotland gets huge readership figures with over 6 million page views in February 2021. But the others are all excellent too. Certainly worth a read for those with a bit of interest in what’s happening across the water.
“her larger-than-life predecessor Alex Salmond”
Not so much larger-than-life now. Whatever you say about accusations of rape and sexual harassment, it looks like they’re good for the figure.
never been able to work out what the snp are after. if you are a scots unionist you are a unionist. you believe in total integration with england the union of the two crowns and that scotland should be repd at westminster and westminster should have the right to legislate on sctland’s behalf. easy enuf position to understand. yp until fairly recently that woulda been the position of 90% of scots. andrew neill said when he as at glasgow uni early 80s the snp were seen as harmless eccentrics.
my definition of a nationalist is someone who wants total separation: your own flag yr own anthem your own currency and head of state. do they beieve there should be an english embassy in edinburgh and a scotttish embassy in london? that if you live in berwick o tweed and you wanna visit yr brother down the road you should need a passport?
anything in between just doas not make sense.
Thanks John for the insight into your understanding of continuing union or independence.
Your understanding appears that any shift from a union is binary.
How do you view the CTA between independent Ireland and the UK?
No visa, no passport controls, just a bit of cooperation and good will.
Would also add that if you move outside of the UK citizens of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland can all move freely between those countries without passports. It has nothing to do with the EU just countries cooperating in their collective and citizens best interests.