The turbulent river

The big story in Scottish politics today is the one that cannot really be commented on due to Scotland’s strict laws about contempt of court and not saying anything in public which might prejudice the outcome of criminal proceedings. Last week former SNP Chief Executive Peter Murrell, the husband of former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, was charged with embezzlement following Police Scotland’s three year long investigation into SNP finances. No details have been released about the details of the alleged offence. The matter has now gone to the Crown Office who will decide whether the evidence warrants the case going to trial.

We cannot comment on the specifics of the matter but this development, and I strongly urge those commenting here to avoid any mention of this on-going legal case, however this development means that the SNP now faces the nightmare of going into a Westminster general election which was already expected to be difficult with the potential spectre of the criminal trial of a former senior party figure looming over its head. Hopefully this is the final chapter in the long running Operation Branchform saga, although Police Scotland has insisted that the investigation is on-going. While there are undoubtedly rocky days ahead in the short to medium term, we can begin to see the distant light of Scottish independence politics in the post Branchform, and post Salmond and Sturgeon era.

Achieving a nation’s independence is never easy, and Scotland’s pro-independence parties and the wider independence movement have perhaps been naive about the scale of the challenges that we face. The British state and its supporters were never going to make this simple and in the years after 2014 we made the mistake of assuming that they would play by the long established rules of democracy. However the British nationalists and their allies have shown no hesitation in ripping up those rules and replacing them with new ones more to their liking. The independence movement must acknowledge that it is not facing a principled and honest opponent.

Until 2021 there was a long established understanding that it is for the people of Scotland to choose the system of government that best suits their needs and that they could do so by electing a Scottish Government to Holyrood which reflects that. Yet in 2021 the people of Scotland had the temerity to elect a government committed to holding another independence referendum, and so the Conservatives, aided and abetted by Labour and the Lib Dems – parties which lost that year’s Scottish elections – decided to ignore a result which was not to their liking and sought to gaslight Scotland into believing that the people had not really voted for what they had in fact voted for by the well established rules of democratic elections in the UK. Shamefully, the great majority of the media in Scotland actively colluded in this deceit.

Nevertheless significant progress has been made, the idea of independence has now been normalised in mainstream Scottish politics, in itself a remarkable achievement given that it had previously been successfully kicked to the margins by the powerful forces of the British nationalist parties, the deeply ingrained Scottish cultural cringe, and a Scottish media which is overwhelmingly dominated by the traditional Unionism which has now been replaced by a nakedly aggressive Anglo-British nationalism.

It is only within the past couple of years that it has begun to dawn that we are facing British nationalist opponents who will not hesitate to stoop to nakedly anti-democratic means in order to thwart the legitimate drive for Scottish independence, shifting the goalposts in order to ensure that a democratic vote on independence is forever outwith our grasp. We now know that voting for a Scottish Parliament which has a clear and unequivocal mandate for a Scottish independence referendum is no longer deemed sufficient for a referendum by a Westminster which continues to insist that Scotland is a member of a voluntary union even as it refuses to specify any democratic route to another vote on independence which is not subject to a veto by a British Prime Minister.

We are currently in a stalemate, which suits the Labour and Conservative parties just fine, the independence parties and the wider movement have yet to work out how to break that stalemate in a way that ensures that a clear and unarguable majority of Scots are on board with it. With support for independence in a huge majority amongst younger age groups, that is not a situation that will last indefinitely. The log-jam will eventually break, and it will do so because of the demographics of independence support are gradually changing Scotland into a nation in which independence will become the settled will of the people.

The new era of Scottish independence politics which is gradually developing will be an era dominated and shaped by a younger generation of politicians, responding to the needs and concerns of a younger generation of Scottish voters who take the idea of Scottish self-government for granted and who are far less influenced by older and out dated notions of the supposed global importance of Britain and more able to see through the self-serving deceit of Westminster.

The cause of independence will be buffeted by storms, it will face crises and difficult times like those it is currently experiencing, but we are travelling on a river which leads inexorably and inevitably to one destination, the wide blue open sea of independence. Right now that river is turbulent and dangerous. The truth is that things will probably get worse before they start to get better, but get better they most assuredly will.

The cause of independence is not a creature of the SNP, recent polling has proven that support for independence remains unaffected by the travails of the party, but the anti-independence parties will seize upon any electoral reverses suffered by the SNP and will use them to claim that it is all over for the dream of Scottish independence. They will redouble their attacks on the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

The SNP will get through this crisis. The party will regroup and reorganise, and it will do so on a foundation of support for independence which remains strong and undiminished and which grows more solid with every passing year. The cause of independence is bigger than any individual, and it’s not going anywhere. We will get through this, and we will be vindicated in the end. History is on our side.

This blog will continue to make ths case for independence and to highlight the hypocrisy and lies of the real enemies of Scottish independence, the corrrupt and rabid Conservatives and the morally and intellectually bankrupt Labour party. It will continue to offer what I hope is a calm and reasonable voice, articulating the humanity and compassion which drives this movement.

Later this week I will launch the blog’s annual crowdfunder. I hope you value my work enough to support it. I have continued to blog despite health challenges which have reduced my output, and I will continue to articulate the case for independence and to hold high a beacon of hope in the dark and stormy days that may lie ahead. On the other side of those days a new and better Scotland is taking shape.

Obviously recent developments will attract a lot of interest and people will want to express their views. However I must remind people that Scotland has very strict laws about contempt of court and you must exercise extreme caution in what you post. Ideally it is best to say nothing. I must also warn you that you are personally responsible for any comments you make.


albarevisedMy 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).

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