I’m finally back blogging, a few days later than planned. Our visitors stayed longer than they had originally intended to and then I got some upsetting family news which meant that my head was just not in the game at all. However there has certainly been plenty to keep you all occupied in my absence with the SNP leadership contest. Like certain other independence bloggers I am not a member of the SNP and therefore do not get a vote, but unlike them I am not going to express a preference about who the next leader of the party and the next First Minister of Scotland should be. All three candidates are able and capable politicians, all have their positives and their negatives, but whoever finally emerges triumphant, all of us who support independence need to unite behind them and work together to build the case for independence so that it becomes the settled will of the people of this country that we all love and care for
Of course I have my own private opinion on who I would like to see as the new SNP leader and First Minister, but in the interests of unity I will be keeping that to myself. If it is not my preferred candidate who emerges victorious it will be harder to rally support behind the new First Minister. I will work to support whoever wins the leadership race. That person needs to be the candidate who is best able to appeal to the varied factions within the SNP and the broader independence movement, but more importantly to make a plausible case for independence which will resonate with that not insubstantial part of Scottish public opinion which is yet to be convinced that Scotland can only have a future as an independent nation if it wishes to retain a distinctive political culture and identity.
The direction of travel within the British state should be painfully clear by now. All Westminster offers is a future in which Scotland is subsumed in an increasingly aggressively English nationalist nation state, reduced to a historic region with no greater political relevance than Wessex or Northumbria. Keir Starmer’s Labour offers no permanent change from that, merely at best a brief respite before the pendulum of English politics swings the other way, and the Conservatives return to power to undo whatever Labour have done, just as they are currently subverting and undermining the devolution settlement. It is a salutary fact that Scotland has not voted Conservative since 1955 but in the 68 years since then Scotland has had Conservative governments at Westminster for over half the time, 38 years, and when Labour does take power it is only by aping Conservative policies, as we saw with Tony Blair in the 1990s and we are seeing now with Keir Starmer. Only independence offers Scotland a permanent escape from this vicious circle.
Unfortunately there has been far too much division , sniping from the sidelines, and back biting within the SNP and the broader independence movement over the past few years, divisions which have at times descended into sheer nastiness, these divisions have been instrumental in causing the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon.
I’d be lying if I said I had not thought about doing what she did too, and walking away from it for the sake of my mental and physical health and sanity. Over the past few weeks, prompted in part by the decision of Nicola Sturgeon, I have been thinking very seriously about whether I should throw in the towel and leave campaigning for independence to a younger and fresher generation. The recent short break gave me some much needed time to reflect. As regular readers know, I have my own personal challenges in terms of my health and disabilities which will be life-long. These are challenges which mean that I simply no longer have the physical, mental, or emotional stamina and resilience which I once did.
But I am far too gobby and opinionated to give up. Someone who supports independence needs to look beyond the obsession with process which has dominated the narrative for far too long and talk about the systemic failures of the British state which mean that democracy in Scotland can never be respected as long as Scotland remains a part of this dysfunctional polity which laughably calls itself a united kingdom. Someone who supports independence needs to shift the narrative from culture war topics that only benefit the Conservatives and focus on arguments which can appeal to undecided voters and those who are open to persuasion, arguments which demonstrate why the people of Scotland would be far better served by a Scottish government with the full powers of an independent state.
It is all the more important that these arguments are made and these discussions are had because the media in Scotland is woefully unrepresentative of the range of political and constitutional opinion in Scotland. As the BBC is very fond of telling us, Scotland is divided on the question of independence, the media in Scotland on the other hand, is anything but divided on the question of independence. It is, with a tiny handful of honorable exceptions, united in its opposition to independence. This is a media landscape which is extremely unhealthy and inimical to the functioning of democracy.
I do not pretend that this small blog has massive importance or impact, but I do believe that it’s vital to keep it going, and so within the constraints of my health and stamina, that is what I am going to keep doing, however I do need to recognise that my limitations are greater than they once were and that maintaining the pace and output that I managed with ease before the stroke is simply no longer possible. So instead of trying to post a new piece three or four times a week, I will instead aim for two or three and give myself time to recover over the weekends.
Over the next few weeks the focus will naturally be on the leadership contest, but when someone emerges as the winner from as process which the anti-independence media is determined to use as an opportunity to sow more division and rancour, we must come together and work to build an unstoppable movement that will take Scotland to that independence which this country so badly needs and escape the vicious circle of Anglo-British conservsatism which dominates Westminster.
My Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to [email protected] (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).
I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon. So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National
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