5 SNP Themes Exposed: Refuting its recurring propagandaTweet
In this article Alistair McConnachie addresses 5 common Scottish nationalist 'Themes' – the recurring rhetorical devices which we hear daily from the SNP and the supporters of separation. He shows why they are not true, why we should be alert to them, and why the SNP continues to get away with such deceptive language.
You can click on any of the links below to jump to the appropriate part of the text, and back again.
1. "The Government has No Mandate in Scotland"
2. "Scotland Has Changed"
3. "'Scotland' or 'the Scots' is Equivalent to the SNP"
4. "Unionist Policies only Play into the Hands of the SNP"
5. "The Vow is not being Delivered, and that's why People are Supporting Separation"
TWO REASONS for CONTINUING SNP SUCCESS
FRAMING THE DEBATE ONE WAY
Photograph: The author at the Scottish Air Show, Low Green, Ayr, 5-9-15. Copyright Alistair McConnachie.
Posted on this site on 24 September 2015.
We've been working full-time on this now since we launched on 21 March 2012. This is our day job. Every day we are monitoring the media and the web, building our contacts, liaising with other groups, designing graphics, planning and carrying out physical activism, campaigning in social media, and when we get the time, as in the last 72 hours, putting our thoughts together in articles such as these.
In all that time, we've never known a time when the unionist position has been so poorly articulated – if heard at all! We've never known a time when the Scottish nationalist voice has been so loud and unopposed.
We've never known a time when the SNP, with the assistance of much of the media in Scotland, is able to get away with devising every question, and framing every debate, to ensure an answer which furthers its separatist agenda.
Every day brings more dismal news about the SNP's desire to set Scots against each other once more, in another referendum. Every day brings new polls on hypothetical questions about whether a majority of Scots would vote for such division, or how long before they might.
There is a prevailing sense that we, the people who won the referendum , have nobody who is articulating our position. It seems any attempt by the few politicians who supposedly represent our interests, is flawed in some way.
But this article is not intended to gloom-monger. It is intended to illuminate – to help explain why we are where we are, and to expose the rhetorical devices intended to keep us stumbling in the darkness.
A lot of where we are, has to do with the atrocious trap which the unionist parties built for themselves during the referendum. That is, the idea that if No won, then the nationalists would still be given a whole raft of new powers.
We warned all the unionist leaders in Scotland, and the UK, of this terrible strategic error back in February 2014. We published and sent the booklet Devo Danger to every single unionist MP from Scotland and every single unionist MSP.
We warned them that a 'promise' of more powers would make it impossible to shut down the nationalist argument, post-referendum.
To a man and woman they ignored us, but we have been proved 100% correct since.
Ideologically, it is no surprise that the SNP became more entrenched after the referendum because by promising 'more powers' – when there was no need to do so – the unionist parties legitimised the SNP's belief that there was, and is, something 'wrong' with Britain which could, and can, only be solved by moving towards separation.
Physically, the promise of 'more powers' ensured that the unionist parties built the stage for the Scottish nationalists to strut upon, even in their defeat.
Therefore, we are where we are, quite naturally. The political logic was inevitable – as we were at pains to stress. There is no surprise about it!
And so the nationalists continue to dominate. And as we have said over and over again throughout this Project, Scottish nationalism cannot be appeased.
Even 'independence' would not appease Scottish nationalism. Failure to be satisfied is part of the fundamental nature of their ideology…and that is all basic political stuff. It is concerning to find unionist politicians who still don't appear to grasp that basic knowledge.
So, the more-powers 'debate' is a no-win situation for us, and we should never have trapped ourselves in it from the start. As we warned, it did nothing but give the SNP a trampoline to bounce back on, even after their defeat.
Sobeit! We are where we are! And we have to deal with the reality which surrounds us.
To that end, and in our on-going efforts to expose separatist strategy and tactics, this article is going to look at some current SNP Themes which we have been seeing and hearing regularly from SNP politicians, separatist commentators in the media, and on social media, and in political debate, since the General Election.
A 'Theme' is an idea which recurs, and we're going to address and refute 5 of them.
These Themes are part of the political rhetoric which surrounds us and which is presently dominated by the SNP.
Once we learn to recognise these Themes – these ideas which keep recurring – then they have less power over us. We can see our situation more clearly.
Finally, we will explain further why the SNP's star continues to rise.
It is our hope that some of our potential politicians – perhaps there are some new, bright ones who are going to be standing for election to Holyrood next year – will take notice of what we say.
SNP Theme 1: "The Government has No Mandate in Scotland"
Alex Salmond has said that Mr Cameron has "no legitimacy whatsoever in Scotland". 1
SNP Westminster leader, Angus Robertson has been at it too, saying that the Prime Minister "does not have a mandate" to govern in Scotland. 2
This is a deliberate attempt to call into question, and thereby weaken, the legitimacy of the present Government, and also the British Parliament in Scotland. (Definition: The 'Parliament' is the 650 MPs, the House of Lords, and the Queen. The 'Government' is the Ministers appointed by the Prime Minister.)
We do not support any particular political party but we are always keen to set Scottish nationalists straight when they make incorrect claims about the British Constitution and our Democracy.
A 'mandate' is 'a right given to a person to act in the name of another'. It can also mean, 'the authority which is given by the electors to an elected body, to act according to its declared policies' (both from Chambers 20th Century).
According to both of these meanings, the British Parliament, and Government, has been given a clear mandate – a right and an authority – from the electors in Scotland. This is for the following 4 reasons:
Firstly, at the referendum in 2014, the majority in Scotland voted to stay in the UK. By doing so, Scotland gave a mandate to the British Parliament and Government to continue 'to act in the name of' Scotland – regardless of what political party, or coalition of political parties, was elected. By doing so, we were also giving authority to the Parliament, as 'an elected body, to act according to its declared policies.'
Over 2 million people voted 'No'. That means they voted for the legitimacy of the British Parliament and any Government created by that Parliament, in all affairs in Scotland.
Secondly, at the General Election on 7 May 2015, 2,910,465 people, or 71.1% of the electorate in Scotland had a choice of 346 candidates to go to the British Parliament. Not one of these candidates was an abstentionist. As a result, 59 were elected with a mandate to go to the Parliament.
That means, everyone who voted – even for the SNP – voted for the winner to go to Westminster. They voted for their MP to take a full part in the British Parliament. Every single person who voted in the General Election in Scotland (for whatever party), voted to give a clear right and authority to this present British Parliament. That means the British Parliament has a perfect legitimacy in Scotland.
Thirdly, everyone who voted, regardless of party, also voted to endorse (but not necessarily to agree with) whatever Government was formed from the Parliament. Hence the present Government has perfect legitimacy in Scotland – it has a clear right and authority given to it by the people of Scotland – and that would be the case even if the governing party had no MPs from Scotland.
Fourthly, nor should we forget that a total of 434,097 electors in Scotland voted specifically for the Conservative Party, which, as it happens, was to go on to form the Government – even though only 1 MP was returned for that Party.
Pretending the British Government (or Parliament) does not have a mandate in Scotland is actually very dangerous and politically irresponsible talk, because it encourages the mistaken idea that democracy is not being served.
This letter in The Scotsman (29-5-15) helps to reinforce the point that the British Government has a mandate in Scotland, regardless of what Alex Salmond, Angus Robertson, or anyone else may try to pretend. Letter begins>
You report (28 May) that SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson declared that David Cameron "does not have a mandate" north of the Border. Mr Robertson has clearly either forgotten that the result of the independence referendum was that a substantial majority of Scottish people voted for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom, or he simply does not understand the political implications arising from Scotland being part of the United Kingdom.
DJ Hollingdale, Edinburgh
SNP Theme 2: "Scotland Has Changed"
What they mean is, "Scotland has changed to become a nationalist nation now – and you'd better get used to it!"
It is not true. But it is a powerful theme which the SNP uses to twist the arms of those it can push in a pro-separatist direction.
Like all these Themes, it is intended to promote acquiescence – subservience – to the SNP's agenda.
For example, one may say, "I don't think it is a good idea for the SNP to influence the BBC!"
They will reply, "How could you say that? Don't you realise, Scotland Has Changed."
"Oh, has it? Sorry, I didn't know! Silly me! I'll shut up then!"
Unfortunately, this "changed" theme is catching on, and is being swallowed by people in powerful positions, who should know better.
For example, Lord Hall, the BBC's Director-General has said that he proposes to "reconfigure our news coverage to meet the changing expectations of audiences across the UK." 3
And "the changing expectations" are what exactly – if not simply cow-towing to the nationalist demands for a more parochial BBC in Scotland.
Let us be under no doubt that it is the aim of the SNP to begin a process whereby the BBC will morph into a sort of 'Scottish Broadcasting Corporation' in all but name, so that it is ripe to be taken over and rebranded as the SBC, in the event of independence.
If it can do this on the back of all the British taxpayers – like the other expensive new institutions which are being created under the Scotland Bill (such as a Scottish tax raising authority (goodbye 'HMRC') – then so much the better.
Well, what about the rest of us – the majority?
What about those of us who voted No? What about those of us who do not believe the SNP should have any control or influence over the BBC whatsoever. What about those of us who don't want the BBC to become another arm of an SNP-controlled state.
Are we expected to just get used to this, because we're told, "Scotland Has Changed".
Who speaks for us?
SNP Theme 3: "'Scotland' or 'the Scots' is Equivalent to the SNP" If 'the Scots' and 'Scotland' become synonymous with 'the SNP' then that would have very divisive effects upon the unity of the United Kingdom. Therefore, it is in the interests of the SNP to confuse everybody – whether in Scotland, or the rest of the UK.
For example, a recent headline in the Sunday Herald read: "Westminster bans Scotland from global summit". 4 The article was about the SNP MSP Humza Yousuf – who masquerades as the 'Scottish Minister' for 'International Development'. We say 'masquerades' because it is not a devolved competency. It is a fancy-sounding position made-up by the SNP deliberately as part of its on-going strategy to create an alternative State.
The article was about the UK Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, 'rejecting' a request from Yousuf to join the official British delegation to a United Nations meeting.
Yousuf responding by saying, "It is a disgrace that the Tories have frozen Scotland out of these crucial UN talks on tackling global poverty".
Scotland, of course, was not 'frozen out'. Scotland, as such, was represented quite adequately, and more legally and appropriately, by the British delegation.
Rather, it was the 'International Development' Impersonator, Yousuf himself, and his SNP party, which simply were not able to attend.
Nor was he actually 'banned', but that didn't stop the separatist-supporting Sunday Herald promoting another aggressively-nationalistic headline.
The headline should have read "Westminster prevents SNP from exploiting global summit".
The SNP's brazen disregard for the devolved situation – a disregard also shown by parts of the Scottish media – is one of its most notable characteristics.
As we stated in our speech in London this year, Principle 25 :"Devolution is British State Power Exercised by a Subsidiary Body".
That is, the political power remains entirely with the central British state, albeit exercised at a subsidiary level.
Devolution is not the casting-off – the abandonment – of British state power from the centre, and its establishment in a new sovereign body in a new state. In a case where the central power – the British state – abandons its law-making power and its position as the supreme arbiter, and which no longer retains, even in theory, the power to take back those devolved powers, or to veto them, then we do not have devolution. We have the granting of slow independence – a completely different policy.
Furthermore, the granting of the right of the Scottish Executive to call itself a "government" (in the Scotland Bill 2012) has massively confused this issue in the public mind. It opened the door – as was obvious from the start – for the SNP to impersonate and masquerade, on the world stage, as a 'Government' equivalent to the British Government, and consequently to seem to speak for 'Scotland' and 'the Scots' on the national and international stage.
It allows the SNP to comment on things which it should not be expected or allowed to comment on, and to do so in such a way that enables it to set 'Scotland' and 'Scots' against the central British Government in order to create divisive mischief. We spoke more about this in our article "One UK: The British Union from 30 First Principles", at Principle 18.
Let's remain alert to the many examples of the words 'Scotland' or 'the Scots' being used, when what is really meant is 'the SNP'!
SNP Theme 4: "Unionist Policies only Play into the Hands of the SNP"
The nationalists will say things like, "If you don't give us the powers you promised then this will mean even more people will join us". Or, "If you don't deliver The-Vow-in-full-with-bells-on-and-then-some, you will be playing into our hands."
Similarly, if we come up with a good idea for the Union, the nationalists will say that it will only make more people support them. They'll say, "If you do that, I know several friends and family who voted No, who will definitely vote Yes next time."
It's all rubbish, of course.
It is an attempt to scare unionists away from suggesting anything which might actually strengthen the Union.
The separatists are trying to maintain control of the debate. It is an attempt to scare us into submission. It is an attempt to get us to drop our pro-UK ideas for submission to their will instead.
They are trying to get us to believe that standing for the UK is not a legitimate position. They are trying to get us to believe that unionism is inherently bad. They are trying to imply that anything we may do to stand for the UK is going to automatically lose us support.
It is saying, "Don't promote your beliefs because your beliefs are inherently bad and if you promote them, then you will lose support and we will only gain." It is an attempt to make unionists confused and ashamed about our beliefs; to keep our heads down.
We can't blame them. They are too used to dealing with 'unionists' who prevaricate, and who don't really have a philosophy of unionism. They know they can scare unionists easily with this sort of rhetoric.
Unfortunately, we also hear this SNP Theme parroted occasionally by our own side. There is a fear of "playing into the hands of the Nats". There is a fear of standing up for something explicitly pro-UK.
When we hear it from our own side, it can also be an excuse for us to do nothing.
It tells us that some on our side don't really understand how to defend the UK, or fight to advance it.
For example, we've heard it said, "We must deliver 'the Vow' in full or it will play into the hands of the Nats!"
We say, "Really? What if 'the Vow' itself is playing directly into the hands of the Nats! What if delivering 'the Vow' is going to make them even stronger!"
SNP Theme 5: "The Vow is not being Delivered, and that's why People are Supporting Separation"
For example, SNP MSP Linda Fabiani is quoted as saying, "The fact that the powers promised have not been delivered means it is no surprise support for independence has risen…" 5 Green MSP, Patrick Harvie, in the same article is quoted as saying the Scotland Bill is "feeble".
This is possibly a reassuring Theme for the hardcore nationalist supporters, who merrily parrot it. But it has little purchase among the rest of the population.
How can it, when many people in Scotland do not know what powers the Scottish parliament has at present!
How can it, when most people do not know what powers are coming as a result of the 2012 Act – an Act which many people have not even heard about, and which is not yet in force!
How can it, when few people even know what powers are meant to be coming in the current Scotland Bill, going through Parliament!
For example, a recent study found that out of an HMRC focus group, including business owners, only 1 out of the 85 knew about the new tax powers coming in the present Scotland Bill. 6
How can people have an opinion on 'more powers' in the current Scotland Bill, when we don't even know what powers Holyrood has at present, or are coming from the 2012 Act, or are even in the present Bill?
Therefore, for the SNP (and the Greens, and some of the media in Scotland) to make this an issue that the public – other than some of their own hardcore supporters – supposedly care about, and to suggest that this is why support for independence is rising, is utterly deceitful.
There are many new powers coming to Holyrood, some of which we have argued will compromise the integrity of the UK. However, don't expect the SNP or the Greens to acknowledge that fact.
Our Approach is this: Today, pro-UK people should not argue with Scottish nationalists about whether or not the so-called 'Vow' is, or is not, being 'delivered'. It is equivalent to saying, "Please believe us, we are giving you more powers. So please stop being nasty to us." The nationalists just sit back and laugh – because they are playing with us – and then they say "No, you are not giving us enough. You must give us more!"
And that's a no-win situation. If you accept those terms of debate then their mockery will continue forever, until they get their separation. Even then, they will continue to mock you.
So, we've never played that game. For our part, as we have stated over and over again, we strongly believe the so-called 'Vow' was a huge strategic error.
We don't want it 'delivered' at all. And if it is to be delivered, then less is better. There are also ways to deliver elements of it without compromising the integrity of the UK.
So we don't go out our way to defend politicians who say it is being delivered. And we certainly don't support supposedly pro-UK politicians who complain that it is not being delivered. 7
TWO REASONS for CONTINUING SNP SUCCESS
In addition to the fact that as soon as the nationalists were defeated in September 2014, the pro-UK parties laid out a nice soft bouncy bed for them to land on – and gave them lots of interesting constitutional toys to play with and throw back in our faces – there are another two reasons for the SNP's continuing success.
Firstly, there is no effective pro-UK opposition to the SNP at present.
There are virtually no elected politicians standing up and making the case for the Unitary State of the UK. The only people doing so are ourselves, a handful of Facebook pages, and some blogs.
Secondly – (and this follows from the fact that there are few people speaking for the UK) – it is because of the way the political debate in Scotland is being framed…
FRAMING THE DEBATE ONE WAY
When you hear a politician apparently standing for the UK, listen closely to what he or she is saying. Are they making a case for the UK, or are they trying to appease the nationalists with 'more powers'?
Are they standing for the Unitary State, or are they constantly reacting to a divisive agenda which has been set by the nationalists? Are they mumbling about even more powers, or federalism, or "Scotland this or that", without a focus on the big picture of Britain?
Such positions are weak and vulnerable and submissive towards the separatists.
As we said at the start of this article, the SNP, with the assistance of much of the media in Scotland, is able to get away with devising every question, and framing every debate, to ensure an answer which furthers its separatist agenda.
It has been able to get away with ensuring everyone has to accept their terms of debate; everyone has to react to their ideas.
It has been able to frame everything as a choice between two things which are both heading down the same road – both reaching a conclusion in the same direction.
For example, the questions are always, "Would you like a Diet Coke, or a Diet Coke with ice?" Or, "Would you like black tea, or milk with that?"
Never, "Would you like a Diet Coke, or a cup of coffee?"
The questions are not asking about different things. The debate is not between different options. It is all just a variation of the same idea, heading along the same dismal track.
Constitutionally, the debate is between "independence, or even more powers for the SNP?" It is never between "independence, or a stronger United Kingdom?"
Or it's, "Should we have a referendum in 2 years or in 10 years?"
Well, how about "Never!"
The extent to which the SNP has captured the debating territory, and the way in which the media has helped to confine political 'debate' to the SNP's grounds – and the extent to which all the political parties have become stuck in this swamp, and thereby become complicit in the nationalist agenda – is one of the reasons for the SNPs continuous post-referendum success.
Someday, we will have politicians in Scotland and the United Kingdom who can point out the alternative direction. Politicians who will point out that, as each day passes, we should be bringing everyone in Scotland, and throughout the UK, closer together.
Politicians who will point out that, as each day passes, we should not be finding ways to drive ourselves apart, or to accentuate our differences, or create division where none existed before, but we should be finding ways to bind all the British people together in common brotherhood and cause.
1. Simon Johnson, "Scottish independence is real danger to UK, Tories warn" The Daily Telegraph (Scottish edition), 9-5-15, p.11, and at www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scottish-independence/11593574/Scottish-independence-is-real-danger-to-UK-Tories-warn.html
2. David Maddox, "Cameron tells SNP to stop the talk and take action", The Scotsman, 28-5-15.
3. Hamish Macdonell, "Lord Hall pledges to improve Scottish coverage after attacks by nationalists", The Times (Scottish edition), 8-9-15, p. 17.
4. Rob Edwards, "Westminster bans Scotland from global summit", Sunday Herald, 13-9-15, p.13. www.heraldscotland.com/news/13716893.Westminster_bans_Scotland_from_global_summit
5. Kathleen Nutt, "Brown admits: the Tories haven't fulfilled The Vow", The National, 10-9-15, p.4.
6. Martyn McLaughlin, "Ignorance and confusion ahead of impending tax rate changes", Scotland on Sunday, 13-9-15, p. 8. www.scotsman.com/news/politics/top-stories/public-ignorance-over-holyrood-income-tax-powers-1-3885264
7. In that regard, we were shocked to read the following recently. We publish it here in order to bring it to wider attention: Alex Rowley, the Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, is on record as saying, "No ifs, no buts, Smith has not been delivered," and he continued; "We will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with SNP ministers to deliver Smith." (BBC Radio Scotland, 18-9-15, and quoted in Lesley Riddoch, "The pursuit of Smith's proposals", The Scotsman, 21-9-15, p. 19.)
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