Tuesday, 20 October 2020

When the wind blows...


According to Bloomberg, the Tories are busy preparing a strategy to respond to the growing calls for Scottish independence if the SNP win their predicted large pro-independence majority in the Scottish election next year. However, what some might initially interpret as a long-overdue understanding that simply repeating the word ‘no’ would be counterproductive, the detail of the proposals so far considered suggests precisely the opposite: they have learned nothing and understood less. It’s said that generals always fight the last war, but I’m not sure that the Tories are even as up to date as that.

There are four main elements to their proposed ‘strategy’:

1.    Attempt to persuade the Scots that they should stay by devolving more powers to Holyrood. It sounds a lot like a watered-down version of the infamous ‘Vow’, a promise of greater devolution if the Scots voted ‘no’ on which the UK parties, led by the Tories, promptly reneged after the vote. As cunning plans go, assuming that the Scots will be stupid enough to fall for the same tactic again looks more Baldrick than Machiavelli. And that would be true even if the Scots couldn’t read, in the same article, that many Tories will oppose this route anyway, preferring to reduce rather than enhance the powers of the Scottish parliament.

2.    Get the EU to make it clear that there is no easy route to membership for an independent Scotland. The EU will, of course, play ball with this because… Well, presumably because they really want to go out of their way to provide political support to people who have spent the last four years being obstructive and objectionable and who are trying to undo the whole EU project rather than those who have bought into the European ideal and want to promote it. Yes, I can see how that looks like a sensible approach to English exceptionalists - but not to anyone else. On the cunningness scale it also runs far wide of the goalposts.

3.    To attack the perceived failings of the Scottish government, “making the [SNP] 'pay the price' for running the semi-autonomous administration since 2007”. I’m not going to pretend that the SNP record in a number of fields has been perfect; it has not. But given that at least some of the problems can be laid at the lack of powers (and especially financial powers) devolved to Scotland, and given the patent failings of the UK Government, the words which immediately jump into my mind at the thought of the UK government inviting people to compare its record with that of Scotland are ‘shoot’ and ‘foot’.

4.    To launch a “a hard-hitting, attack-focused” campaign against Sturgeon. Again, I can only wonder at the mindset behind a proposal that what is widely seen to be the most dishonest, corrupt and incompetent government in the modern history of the UK would be taken seriously if it launches a personal attack on the single politician in the whole of the UK who most emerges from the handling of the pandemic with hugely-enhanced credibility.

The one thing that the report showed clearly was that, despite everything, the English ruling class as represented by the English Conservative Party still has an unshakeable conviction in its own innate correctness and inalienable right to rule the whole of the UK (as well as the colonies and dominions which many of them don’t even seem to realise left a long time ago). Years ago, I thought that the rapid loss of the Empire might shift that view, and more recently, I thought that Brexit would convince them that they need to adjust their world view: the UK does not rule the waves and will struggle even to get away with waiving some of the rules. But no, they learn nothing and show no signs of being able to learn either. That’s good news for Scotland – it is, as the proverb says, an ill wind that blows nobody any good. People in Wales need to see which way the wind is blowing as well, there’s no good reason why we shouldn’t also seize the opportunity.


dafis said...

Too true, people in Wales, or of Wales, need to seize the time and do something or things that will move us forward. Whether we have the backbone, cojones, motivation call it what you will, remains a big big question for which the answers are still not well defined.

As for Scotland, some of the stuff I read from Scottish Nat sites is pretty disturbing. Without knowing the intimate details of everything I am left with a suspicion that anti-independence agencies have already weaponised issues like the over played transgender debate and are now stirring up the debate regarding the Salmond saga with a view to engineering some sort of damaging schism.

Now this is all fairly new stuff to me although I sense that some of this crap has been steaming away in Scotland for a while. It brings to mind the way that Plaid has been distracted over recent years and begs questions for which there are no easy answers about London's appetite for covert manipulation. Have you some insight on how much of this kind of deception has gone on in our politics ?.

John Dixon said...

”Have you some insight on how much of this kind of deception has gone on in our politics ?” No, I’m afraid not. I can, though, make some general comments:

1. Do government agencies whose remit is primarily about protecting the British state take an active interest in the politics of the independence movements in Scotland and Wales? Well, yes – they wouldn’t be doing their job if they weren’t.
2. Do they ever play the role of agent provocateur, or get involved in internal politics with the objective of disruption? I have no direct evidence on this, but I’d be very surprised if they didn’t.
3. Are the current divisions in the SNP (and/or Plaid) the result of that? I’m sure that those same agencies will be pleased with what’s happening and probably very happy to take the credit, but I rather suspect that the problems are entirely home-made.

There are three things which I see as unfortunate tendencies in the politics of independence in both Wales and Scotland, and I very much doubt that the dark forces of the state have much to do with any of them:

1. Successful movements attract people who see those movements as a potential vehicle for achieving other objectives.
2. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but it causes problems if they also demand that everyone else buys into the whole of their agenda and be delegitimised if they don’t.
3. Success also attracts those whose objective is more about a career and promoting their own egos than any attachment to a grand objective, such as independence. Techniques such as briefing against each other may be the bread and butter of parties whose objective is all about power, but they can be the death of parties which have a goal other than the mere pursuit of power.

But, in my view, the biggest problem for an independence movement which starts to experience this type of problem is an electoral system which encourages attempts to contain disparate views within a single anti-union party rather than allowing the rather more healthy approach of multiple pro-Indy parties which a properly proportional system would facilitate.

dafis said...

Your points no's 2 and 3 in the second section of your response describe accurately my take on the present Welsh situation and what appears to be the emerging problem in Scotland. That said these diversions also provide fertile ground for anti-indy agencies to prosper.
Remember that some of the activities attributed to Meibion Glyndwr were suspected to be the work of Brit security services when central government became alarmed by the inability of their police forces to detect any culprits, and evident mild support among local native communities ( no grass here, guv!)