Siol nan Gaidheal
A Nationalist Looks at the Thistle: Part Two
This is the second of two follow-up articles to "An SNP Man looks at the Thistle", published last year on the website. This article examines the dilemma facing ordinary nationalists in the wake of the current state of Scottish politics, and the continuing threat to our culture.
2001 was a very difficult year for all nationalists in Scotland. The June Westminster elections actually resulted in a loss of one of the SNP's seats to, of all people, the Conservative and Unionist Party - who had been thought to be a spent force in Scottish politics. No gains were made from the British Unionist Labour Party, and Alex Salmond, one of our very few nationally renowned politicians, fled (for as yet unknown reasons, certainly not those stated) back to Westminster, abandoning the Vichy Parliament. The SNP appeared to have completely lost their way, floundering in a sea of gradualism, and without a competent pilot to steer them back on course. Events elsewhere in the world led to movements designated 'nationalist' being dismissed either as parochialist, or, more dangerously, as some form of racism, the bÍte noire of the politically correct.
The other so-called 'Scottish' parties had their troubles too. The British Unionist Labour Party suffered ignominy when Henry McLeish was forced to resign, caught (as so many before in this parcel of rogues) with his hand in the till. Further revelations of a similar nature have followed, and several more political careers have wobbled since the commencement of what has become known as 'OfficeGate'. McLeish, who at least appeared to be partially his own man, with ideas of a (marginally) Scottish bent, has been replaced by Jack McConnell, who is firmly cast in the Blair mould, and undeniably subservient to his political master. McConnell's cabinet now consists of those who are naught but Westminster yes-men and -women, with McLeish's lackeys tossed out into the political wilderness.
The Liberals still clung to the notion that if they rode on Labour's coat-tails, they might achieve prominence. At the cost, of course, of any principle they might once have held dear. One advantage of 'HenryGate' was that Jim Wallace got his face in the papers as temporary leader until McConnell was elected. And that was about the sum total of all they achieved, other than obtaining false promises on Proportional Representation, which will now go straight back into the forgotten files.
Tommy Sheridan, too, has not had his troubles to seek. His alliance with the Socialist Workers Party, the enemy of all forms of nationalism, looks to be sounding the death-knell for any real form of Scottish socialism, as that party is run from London with a strictly Anglo-centric outlook. Armani Man may yet find that he has chosen unwisely in this dalliance, as Scotland's needs and desires are subsumed beneath London's agenda.
So where does this leave nationalism and nationalists at the start of the year 2002? Is there any hope for Scotland? On the surface, the situation remains as poor as stated in the first paragraph. However, there are signs that all is not yet lost.
The rising cost of our ersatz Vichy Parliament in the Black Hole of Holyrood is becoming increasingly focussed upon as a source of public annoyance. Originally quoted at £40 million, the cost is now approximately £300 million and rising. Donald's Dome is becoming an albatross around the neck of the British Unionist Labour PartyÖ Cynicism with regard to the motives of career politicians is rising, and if channeled correctly could become a massive force for good in Scotland. Recognition of the reasons behind decisions made 'in the public interest' is growing apace, and more Scots are gradually coming to the realisation that Scotland could do so much better than this.
The impending formation of Clannasaor in the very near future may seem to be playing into the Unionist's hands - the old scenario of divide and rule. But the truth is that the SNP as a realistic political entity no longer exists. Riven by dissent on a number of fronts, it will be unlikely to be still extant by the end of this new year. Siol nan Gaidheal quite confidently predicts that the SNP will very shortly implode, the vast majority of active members now being totally disillusioned with the current gradualist and semi-unionist stance. The activists, those who remain, will abandon this rump and look elsewhere for their nationalist focus. It remains to be seen whether they will be seduced towards Clannasor, form a party of their own, or disappear from the political scene altogether - but the trickle is rapidly turning into a flood. We have heard rumours of a Nationalist-Republican political initiative in the offing, and Siol nan Gaidheal would warmly welcome such a move.
An enduring and growing interest in Scottish history and culture has been noted among Scots since the honey-trap of devolution was first posited. According to book publishers, sales and records of visits to historical sites, etcetera, this interest continues to grow, albeit slowly. Public recognition of our past and ancient culture gaining ground, despite the ravages of Anglo-Saxon revisionism, and a thirst for knowledge about this long-hidden history is slowly being slaked. As the general level of public interest and knowledge grows, the remit of Siol nan Gaidheal as a champion of our unique heritage comes even more into focus, allied to our existing challenge to those who would deny our existence as an ethnic community with its own historical and cultural background. The allegations made against SMG regarding the siphoning off of funds allocated to Gaelic broadcasting clearly demonstrate that cultural denigration still exists in Scotland, as does the continued denial of a Scottish news service. We continue to be fed Anglo-centric pap as if it was the norm, and our struggle against all forms of Anglo-Saxon revisionism will forge ahead.
The use of Scotland as a dumping-ground for nuclear waste or for new nuclear power generation projects has had to be rapidly revised in the light of September 11th. The threat of terrorist attack on remotely-located and difficult to adequately protect facilities may become an important boost for Scottish ecology. The rape of the land continues, but the recent legislation, whilst inadequate, is at least a step in the right direction towards regaining full public ownership of our own country. The sale of Scotland as a 'commodity' to foreign-based interests remains anathema to all right-minded Scots and will continue to be resisted.
A radical approach to Scottish politics is now called for. No more token concessions to the Unionists, who will attack in unison any perceived threat to their current cosy little arrangements in the Vichy Parliament. Siol nan Gaidheal now call on all Scots to urgently review their moral position with regard to their homeland. Scotland has a long and proud tradition of radicalism, and even after 300 years of foreign domination the sparks are still there. They must be fanned in order to burst into flame, but that flame, once lit, will not be extinguished.
In closing, we would quote from Ernest Renan's 'Qu'est-ce qu'une nation?':
"The nation, even as the individual, is the end product of a long period of work, sacrifice, and devotion ... our ancestors have made us what we are ... To have common glories in the past, a common will in the present; to have accomplished great things together, to wish to do so again, that is the essential condition for being a nation. A nation is a grand solidarity constituted by the sentiment of sacrifices..."
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