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A Stiff Kicking into the Long Grass by Val Waldron

Voters for Forbes or Regan were aware that GRR would be kicked into the long grass, serving as precedent for a power grab at any piece of legislation deemed unpopular   

I never found it particularly difficult to understand why the Red Wall had fallen to the Tories in 2019. We’ve been living under the shadow of populism for some time now and too many of the old Labour stalwarts are six feet under. With nobody there to haul the next generation by the collar and steer them away from Boris the laddish charlatan, too many were free to explore racist tabloid, brexit-inspired fantasies, and become victims of ‘The Other’

Without focus, drive and solid leadership, ‘conservatism’ lives up to its name. It’s a default position. I was equally unimpressed with the frequently expressed idea that we were immune to all of that in Scotland, that our fine history of class struggle and some impressive working-class heroes rendered us an inherently left-wing population.

It was hardly surprising that Nicola Sturgeon’s sudden departure in February would create shock, panic and some degree of stumble in support for independence. The clue was in the gradual climb in the polls for Yes during the pandemic. So much of it was about Nicola. She was the strong leader, the Matriarch. The driver of the juggernaut for independence. So many were unable to function as adults with a wider vision, without her at the helm.

The SNP already plays host to elected representatives widely seen as eating away at it from inside. They stood comfortably behind leadership candidates Regan and Forbes who belong respectively in a different party and a different century. The loose coalition of Alba and non-aligned SNP/Sturgeon haters soon found their focus again behind those candidates. The shock-factor for many of us was that so much of the dissent came from within the party membership, that 48% were prepared to ditch any previously held principles and doubts about the candidates who so easily trashed the reputation of their own party during the campaign.

Those of us who pay attention know where the dangers lie, that GRR served as a handy weapon against the Sturgeon leadership, despite the cross-party support that became less and less evident as Labour leader Sarwar saw his opportunities. The baton was passed to the haters for Yousaf, using the dog-whistle term ‘Continuity Candidate’ as permission to attack. Voters for Forbes or Regan were aware that GRR would be kicked into the long grass, serving as precedent for a power grab at any piece of legislation deemed unpopular, such as the Deposit Return Scheme.

It seems that the old Wheesht for Indy adage was not dead, but thinly covered by a veneer of support for a broadly progressive route led by the SNP/Green coalition. To imagine that those who chose Forbes or Regan as leader were unaware of the threat to this agreement, voted for by 95% of the membership less than two years ago defies logic. To imagine that the now widely known beliefs expressed by Forbes early in the campaign would not open a very dangerous door for the LGBT+ community either spells a reckless lack of care or a rapid radicalisation. Either way, the opportunities offered to the enemies of Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP and independence have been immediate, quite staggering in their choreography and punishingly cruel.

I do not for a moment believe that the vindictiveness displayed against a once extremely popular leader goes beyond envy, vengeance and/or fear of independence by a wide-ranging group of snipers from within and outside the movement. But a little bit of concentrated toxin goes a very long way. Lord Frost has taken the liberty to openly show that it could take us all the way to the end of devolution if gone unchecked.

I make no apology for the fact that much of this is observed from behind the sofa, a safe place in light of the vitriol and hatred. I have nothing but respect for those who must run the gauntlet of it daily to stay standing and carry on governing. Humza Yousaf carries on, despite attempts to strangle his leadership at birth, with all functional steps overshadowed by the media circus surrounding Murrell and Sturgeon. The Greens, vilified as Wine Bar Revolutionaries by the SNP’s Fergus Ewing, or ‘groomers’, ‘nonses’, ‘misogynists’ from those heavily engaged in culture wars and deeply radicalsed, are still in Government. There is much to fight for.

Our once respected media outlet BBC Radio Scotland has nothing newsworthy to offer those interested in some of the truths behind the media circus, seizures and arrests. It continues to turn to those with a clear anti Scottish Government agenda for analysis and commentary. One such example is Kevin McKenna, a journalist with a damaged reputation, who advised listeners that the Tories and Labour will be using images of motorhomes against the SNP for the next election. In truth, the tabloid-driven media are doing this right now and will continue to take the populist angle in an attempt to off-set any new independence supporters.

Despite some inevitable fall in support, the SNP and independence are down but not out, and recent polls even show some slight recovery. It has been widely overlooked that, although the trajectory towards independence as a progressive vision has taken a kicking you cannot destroy an idea. The younger generation will emerge to take up a friendlier, more progressive baton while the fight continues. The haters from within the movement should, but will not hold up their hand to the damage done to the movement, but the main players and potential beneficiaries are the arch unionist opposition parties, supporters and media.

On May 6th a pro Republican rally will convene in Edinburgh as an option to the Alba-supported All Under One Banner march in Glasgow. The establishment influence on our country still drives the agenda to the extent that the First Minister (and the darling of the unionist media, Alex Salmond) will be attending the coronation event. I will hazard an educated guest that the Edinburgh event will be a significantly more comfortable one for those on the progressive left of the movement.

We must find our way into the best of humanity via causes that amplify the sentiments of equality and justice for all the population, leaving no-one, no minorities behind, and bowing to no deity-like monarchy whose existence serves only the interests of the rich. An independent Scotland need not rely on the relics of this old institution as a tourist attraction. In this way we will pick ourselves up, have a communal dust-down and move on.

Val Waldron




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