Saturday, June 26, 2010

Independence Disruption

War of independence erupts within ranks of SNP

So says The Scotsman.

The 'newspaper' always tries to frame the debate in a way that suits unionism and this latest piece of propaganda is no different. Tom Peterkin's key point though is moot: DevoNats are causing disharmony in the independence ranks.

Many nationalists are not just questioning the strategy of the leadership but are angry about it. Jim Sillars is quoted attacking the party leadership. It's true that Jim has lost a lot of respect for venting his prejudices in public over the years but no-one can doubt that he is the political animal that Salmond never was. His strategic sense is second only to his oratory brilliance. With the Tories in power, with the British state insolvent and with no Scottish PM around anymore the time to go for the jugular, as Sillars argues, has truly arrived.

Yet, Salmond is stepping back. Why? The leadership reckons that the agenda has moved away from it. That's because leaders seize the agenda. That's what real politians do. Not the SNP apparently.

What platform does the SNP have now? None. They have had to dump key manifesto pledges because the British economy has been willfully destroyed and so they couldn't afford them. Instead of that being shown to be a failure of Britain it has been easily portrayed as a failure of the SNP and Salmond. The party is being presented as having cheated the electorate. Why? The leadership has no stomach for visceral politics. It's that simple.

Well, the unionist machine is going to be all out against the SNP between now and the next Holyrood election so it's going to be bloody. The SNP must now replace the feather duster with the nuckle duster. The strategy of presenting the party simply as the natural party of Holyrood ain't gonnie cut it. Arguing for independence is about consolidating previous gains and building momentum. Instead people are having second thoughts.

Now, apologists for the leadership will bleat on about the need to remain positive and not get involved in negative campaigning. I'm sorry but that is complete nonsense. For a start pointing out that Britain has failed is telling people the truth. The Bank of England has been printing new money and that means Britain is bankrupt. At the same time Scotland has a surplus. These are truths which simply must be pointed out. Arguing for independence is also arguing against union and that is a fact of life - the birds and the bees. There's no need to be constantly negative but a balance must be established. Independence is a positive message and especially so when the manifest failures of union are highlighted. As the British economy moves into its death throws (and it is) a 'Bankrupt Britain - Surplus Scotland' campaign would resonate and develop into a platform for an independence referendum.

It is a crime that Labour has not been imprisoned for killing the British economy. This is the enemy that the SNP must defeat and destroying jobs is their legacy - one which is not being capitalised on by a leadership lacking political nous.

At the very time where the environment for changing ideas and using the 2007 Holyrood platform to move towards the core aim of the movement, it is instead badly injured and limping towards defeat at Holyrood. Instead of having supporters geared up for a final push we now see division and demotivation emerging.

Another annoying cliché that you hear from DevoNats is about whether independence is about economics or if it is cultural. The truth is that it is both and there's no need for such meandering blether disrupting business. The only difference is in campaigning strategy. Debating the cultural aspects of independence is about laying foundations but that debate can happen any time. Economics is about jobs, health and education and explains why we need the referendum as soon as possible. Both arguments together confer the logic and the urgency.

And the talk about realistic ambition? It was the threat of political independence that got us this far and without it there will be no 'concessions'.

The movement must force this debate because clearly the leadership is wrong. Over the years the party has been loyal to the leadership and in some ways unity is strength. On the other hand it causes weaknesses when said leadership indulges in its own comfort zone. It needs to be woken up from its Holyrood tea-room slumber and ordered to come out fighting. If not the movement will be set back a generation and it has suffered long enough. If the leadership doesn't make a move now there will be another Disruption.

The Disruption of 1843

On our previous path to independence Scotland sent out a message about her compromised leadership in the Declaration of Arbroath, to the world and future generations:

..we will immediately endeavour to expel him, as our enemy and as the subverter both of his own and our rights, and we will make another king, who will defend our liberties

History has given us a surplus of opportunities. What the movement needs is a leadership capable of taking them.


Anonymous said...

'Now, apologists for the leadership will bleat on about the need to remain positive and not get involved in negative campaigning.'

And that is exactly the message being punted by the high heid yins at every branch party meeting!
After the General Election we had a meeting and the only person out of the twenty-odd present who declared we had a good campaign was a Mr Adam Ingram MSP.

At a later meeting, when myself and others were complaing about the 'softly, softly' approach adopted by the SNP leadership in Holyrood the local GE candidate, Chic Brodie, sprung to his feet to defend AS and others.
They are so far removed from the grass-roots they are in the Van Allen Belt.


Bob said...

I don't read Scottish newspapers online or in dead tree press or watch BBC Scotland news as their pro Labour agenda is carved in stone but I'll take your word for what The Hootsmon was saying Alex.
I'm not surprised that the SNP are in turmoil. They had their chance to give us a referendum on independence but all we got was a consultation. When Wendy kept saying ' bring it on' then we should have brought it on. The door is closed now and the SNP are adrift in a sea of pro green agendas, pro EU, pro immigration, pro windmills etc....

Alex Porter said...

Maybe I'm misjudging the situation being so far away. I didn´t realise that the grassroots were so entirely at odds with the leadership on this.
If the leadership is so divided by strategy from everyone else then we really could see a major split inside the party. That is not a state of affairs that can be sustained for long. Whose party is it?

Alex Porter said...

Well, the party hasn't made any big moves in policy for a long while. It seems they don't get geo-politics. There's no need now to have an EU policy, they could simply have the policy of a referendum on remaining inside or leaving and letting the people decide. That would be consistent with independence. I'm not sure Wendy had the party behind her when she announced 'bring it on'. Brown shut it down. If it was a serious offer she should have held discussions behind the scenes and had the party make a serious move towards the referendum. It's far too serious an issue to be flung around the playground. I think ignoring her was wrong, Salmond could have offered to have meetings with the party to bring the referendum forward and then watched them squirm out of it.. Like I say, it was all petty posturing though.

Pro-Green? Not sure if building bridges is pro-green and they back mining, no? And weren't you annoyed about the environmental impact of pylons if I remember right?

A few weeks ago I was on an intensive course with Iberdrola executives (Scottish Power) and got the low down on wind power. I was impressed by what the latest generation of windmills are capable of. I mean I'd rather have 1 000 windmills than a nuclear power plant and 300 is better than a coal power plant. The offshore windmills don't have the problems with wind continuity either.

I know you ain't an SNP fan. For me it's the goal of independence that gets my juices going and that is what the SNP should be about. The game changes once independence is a fact. New parties, new constitution, free to express ourselves and I don't think the parties will be anything like what they are now. I think we badly need that revolution.

Have to agree that the SNP are adrift. A leadership which has had its own way for far too long. We need some threats to challenge for the leadership IMHO. I don't know if anyone is capable of moulding such a force.

Bob said...

The massive pylon complex is because of the SNPs' pro green policy. They plan to 'harness' the energy from wind turbines and wave generators and destroy the countryside from Beauly to Denny.
I'm not surprised that the foreign company called 'Scottish Power' are pro windmills. Each one fetches them about £200K in profit annually and they're built with the help of taxpayers cash ( £1Bn so far rising to £20Bn by 2015 ).
Good article here...

Bob said...

Oh and the foreign company called ' Scottish Power' has form for milking Scottish taxpayers in order to keep the Spanish leckie bills cheaper.

" In April 2008 Ofgem launched an investigation into allegations that Scottish Power abused their dominant market position relating to the electricity transmission network they own jointly in Scotland.[12] Ofgem said it had launched its inquiry into Scottish Power and Scottish & Southern Energy under section 18 of the Competition Act, "based on a formal complaint alleging abuse of a dominant position in the electricity generation sector arising from constrained capacity on the transmission network."[13] The energy regulator believes that energy generators manipulate the power market for profit when supplies are tight because network operator National Grid has to pay utilities to turn their plants on or off to balance supply and demand. This resulted in companies deliberately shutting their plants down when supplies are tight in order to receive a higher payment to start up again, increasing the system balancing costs at the expense of consumers. Ofgem were alarmed that the cost of balancing the system increased from £70 million in 2007/08 to an estimated £238 million for 2008/09 and an expected £258 million pounds in 2009/10, with most of the costs incurred in Scotland. In January 2009, Ofgem suspended the investigation, saying it would be more effective to deal with the wider problem than pursuing the specific case further.[14]"

Alex Porter said...

Hi Bob, I was just pointing out that the argument against windmills was that they used up more energy in construction than they harnessed when you throw in the pylons. My point is that with the latest technology that is no longer the case.

The Spanish engineers who I was working with were not really on the commercial side. I was working with nuclear plant, coal plant, hydro and so on. And in Spain there are massive windfarms!

I agree that there is a problem with utility ownership. Allowing Scottish Power to be sold was a scandal. Deregulation has been shafting municipalities and countries for decades starting with Thatcher's sell offs to robber Texan barons. The same nonsense you talk of happened in the black-outs in California and then in Brazil. Buy over the utility and use it to screw the population. It's such an established scam you would think they would have known something about it before selling it off.

Alas, New Labour's agreeing to sell it off was just another example of cosey relations with big business, corporate donations to parties etc. Scotland and the Scots are just plebs to be milked. They sold us out.

Nothing whatsoever to do with the SNP though.

Greg Palast writes a lot of fascinating stuff about the origins of utilities rip-offs, how they started and swept the world using the IMF, World Bank and so on to force countries to sell utilities to pay off loans. The countries ended up total basket cases.

Start here:

I wonder how this can be regulated? If not then Iberdrola will have to be forced to sell it off. I mean they used phantom money to buy it in the first place.. They may even have to sell. All Iberdrola training has now been cancelled..

Bob said...

Hi Alex,
It was the Tories who privatised the Scottish Electricity industry. Scottish Power was privatised in 1991.
It's all smoke and mirrors with windmills. Ask the energy companies how many would be built if there were no subsidies. The answer would be - NONE.
They produce their energy where it's not needed so it has to be transmitted over vast distances at great cost in pylons and landscape destruction. Because they can't store energy they need even more back up from more conventional power stations when the wind drops. The sea windmills are worse as they require more investment to build them and to service them. Plus their life is far shorter due to erosion. France has sussed this out and will be self sufficient in nuclear power while we go backwards a thousand years to waiting for the wind to blow to make some bread.

Indy said...

Why are you people so naive?

Did you actually READ the Times interview that the story was based on?

If you had done it would have been obvious that there was no substance to it.

But as usual the press pull your strings and you dance to their tune.

Bob said...

'The Times' is behind a paywall so I don't read it . I've not read any Scottish newspapers for a few years as they're full of pro Labour rubbish. Similarly with the BBC news.
I didn't realise it was in 'The Times' though. Always thought they were less anti SNP. Maybe it's since they scrapped their Scottish edition and lost their Scottish editorial staff.

Alex Porter said...

You'll notice in my entry that I didn't trust the argument but that the key point was moot. There is division within the ranks and that's just true. The election strategy has not been endorsed by the wider movement. That is coming from actual members and not The Times. Best not get emotional when defending the leadership, what is needed is open debate. Who can feel threatened by that?

Alex Porter said...

I know the Tories privatised it. Thatcher started the global game of rip off of public utitities. Now the banks are impoverishing the world so their buddies can buy of even more public assets on the cheap. I see Greece is selling off islands now to pay interest to bondholders..

I know Labour sold off Scottish Power. The Spanish were getting illegal tax incentives to effect the purchase..

It just proved that Labour and Tories were both in thrall to the banksters just like Obama.

Bob said...

I don't see how Labour could have sold off Scottish Power. It was a private company in 1991. Wasn't it the shareholders who agreed to sell to the Spanish ? I remember EON tried to buy it before then.

Alex Porter said...

Hi Bob,
Sorry, what I meant was sold us out. I mean it made sense to block the sale to Iberdrola. Spain was busy blocking sales and did acquire SP using debt leverage and so the ECB bail-outs are now paying for the sale.. The sale could have been blocked but when it comes to Britain and especially Scotland 'free trade' was good!

Sorry for the mix up.

Indy said...

It's not a question of being emotional.

It's a question of the Scotsman writing a story that was factually wrong.

It was perfectly possible to verify what Alex said (or rather didn't say) by reading the actual interview.

You know the press would love nothing more than to start presenting the SNP as being divided in the run-up to 2011.

Why would you want to help them?

Alex Porter said...

Give us peace.

The point is that they are not helping themselves and there is a division. Many members will tell you that the entire branch is against the party strategy - all except those close to the leadership.

That's actual members and nothing to do with any newspaper - get it?

The media are going to slaughter the party without some kind of debate about strategy.

I could argue that you are helping unionists win by supressing debate but that kind of criticism is somewhere between undemocratic and uptight.

The grassroots needs top breath and a post-election analysis is fundamentally needed.