Publish or be damned
Wings over Scotland wrote an article recently, in which he prematurely proclaimed the death of Arc of Prosperity (no hard feelings – he was kind enough to say in a comment he was glad I hadn’t totally quit). It was a good article, though, pointing out how a large part of the pro-indy bloggosphere has collapsed in recent years:
During the 2014 indyref, the astonishingly vast imbalance of the mainstream Scottish media was partly compensated by a huge rise in new media, with dozens and dozens of sites filling the gaping chasms where printed and broadcast media would have been in any country with a press worthy of the name at such an exciting time.
The subsequent shrivelling of that presence has been one of the least observed and explored phenomena of the six years since the referendum, and especially since the SNP’s election victory in 2016. The incredibly wide-ranging, mutually-supportive pro-Yes new media is now down to a tiny handful of outlets, most of which are barely read (and most of which would celebrate if the others burned down in a chemical fire). […]
[N]one of this is great news. Years of inaction and worse from the SNP have drained much of the enthusiasm and strength from the Yes movement, and the great grassroots surge of activity that characterised 2011-14 has withered away, with only the occasional march (now scuppered by COVID-19) helping to keep spirits up.
The once-huge and diverse army of campaigners, lacking a focus for its energies, has predictably turned in on itself and split into warring factions, while other parts have just lost heart and wandered back to their normal lives.
I have to admit he’s totally right. Back in 2014, I spent a lot of my time campaigning for independence, writing a large number of blog posts (close to 200 articles before the referendum) and campaigning locally in East Renfrewshire, especially in Newton Mearns. It’s probably no coincidence that our family company did a lot better after the referendum than in the years just before it.
The thing is that blogging seriously is hard work, and this site has never asked for donations of any kind, so it’s all been financed implicitly by myself (and my family).
To my mind, that’s entirely worthwhile and not normally worth mentioning, but it requires a purpose. A proper journalist makes their living by writing, so they’ll write something no matter what’s happening, and that will satisfy their immediate pecuniary needs. But if you’re financing your writing yourself, you have to feel it makes a difference (and if you get paid by donations from other independence supporters, they have to feel they get something out of doing so).
That’s why Nicola Sturgeon’s constant marching her troops up and down the hill like a yoyo is so damaging to the independence movement. The first time she marched us uphill, I wrote quite a lot of excited stuff, but by now I’m just trying to stifle a yawn. I definitely wouldn’t recommend saying no to any paying job just because she claims yet again that the next independence referendum is now just around the corner.
So the main reason for this website being near-dormant is that there’s nothing to write about. There’s no point arguing for a referendum when Nicola Sturgeon is not listening to anybody but simply is waiting for Westminster to grant a Section 30 order. There’s no point discussing the advantages of being independent when there’s no campaign going on. It’s definitely not having moved to Denmark a year and a half ago that has made me blog much less – I still passionately believe in Scottish independence and follow Scottish and UK politics much more closely than what’s happening in Denmark.
At the moment, too much of what we need to discuss is how to achieve a referendum and win it, and Nicola Sturgeon is not engaging. So after a few blog posts, there’s nothing more to say.
We cannot discuss how to hold a referendum, because Nicola Sturgeon is insisting there’s no alternative to Section 30 order, and that the Tories will agree at some point.
We cannot discuss how to win a referendum, because the SNP will insist on defining the independence proposition on their own. For instance, it’s looking likely at the moment that they’ll insist on a slightly modified version of Andrew Wilson’s horrible plan to stick with the pound for a long time. The problem from a blogging point of view is that the SNP aren’t engaging – they don’t want to listen to good arguments in favour of specific solutions, so any alternative proposals easily end up sounding like a criticism of the SNP (or even of independence itself).
We cannot discuss trans issues, because this topic has become so toxic that any mention of it will instantly lose you half your followers and gain you new followers who aren’t interested in Scottish independence in the slightest. (For what it’s worth, this site believes the SNP should have prioritised independence and only improved and expanded trans rights at a pace that would have kept almost everybody on board – more drastic action should have been delayed till after independence when people’s voting patterns won’t be primarily determined by the independence question any more.)
We cannot discuss the Alex Salmond court case because it’s a legal minefield, and it easily ends up sounding like a conspiracy theory involving Nicola Sturgeon, the top of the civil service and the Illuminati.
We cannot even discuss how to maximise pro-independence representation at Holyrood because the SNP reacts to any alternative proposal to Both Votes SNP as a thought crime.
We can explain that the Tories are mean and useless – but most people agree on this anyway, so it’s hardly a wonderful use of anybody’s time.
The only thing I want to write about at the moment is why we need an independence referendum sooner rather than later, but these articles invariable end up targeting the SNP rather than the Unionists, and you can only write so many articles of this type without getting a sneaky suspicion that you’re really helping the Yoons more than your own side.
So in effect, I’m waiting. If something interesting happens, I’ll write about it, but in the meantime, I’m mainly sitting on my hands.
Once the new independence referendum gets underway, we can try and become the Yes media agan, rebutting the No side’s unsubstantiated Project Fear propaganda, but we can only do that in a campaign situation.
I do worry that when we finally get to holding a new independence referendum, there won’t be many blogs left, but that the mainstream media won’t be any more objective than last time, so it’ll make the whole experience even more biased.
I’ll never understand why the SNP don’t see the value in having energised and focused campaigners and bloggers, preferring instead to rely almost entirely on their staff and the mostly hostile media. Surely if we don’t publish pro-independence articles, the whole movement will ultimately be damned?
6 thoughts on “Publish or be damned”
The one subject that has been seriously under-reported on blogs and by SNP politicians has been the relentless long running economic under-performance of the UK, especially when compared with our European neighbours. “Rebutting the No side’s unsubstantiated Project Fear propaganda” is clearly vital but given that the flipside of independence is remaining in the UK, exposing the economic and consequent social realities of the UK’s performance should help open peoples eyes to what undeniably lies ahead if Scotland remains in the UK.
I always find it strange that the age group that has lived through the 1970’s power cuts, three day week, uncollected rubbish on the streets, Thatcherism, PFI’s, New Labour, Austerity, Covid mismanagement and Brexit are the ones least likely to support independence. The economic history of the UK has been one of crisis after crisis for decades and the period from the second world war is a relevant time period to highlight just how badly the UK has performed, year after year since then.
Fundamentally Scotland is a forward looking and progressive nation. England, and in particular its Oxbridge leaders are the opposite. Some Europeans I believe appropriately refer to these people as ‘living fossils’. Too often they want to live in the past while proclaiming that ‘Britain’ is the world leader in any matter you care to think of and regardless of solid evidence to the contrary. The ‘UK’ Covid track & trace fiasco is their latest example of this ‘world leadership’ nonsense.
The quantifiable evidence of what lies ahead for the UK is clear, based as it can easily be, on what has happened and is still happening. Based on the refusal to accept the realities of the modern world, deluded decisions have and will continue to add to the UK’s inevitable economic and social decline. The only thing that isn’t inevitable is whether Scotland remains part of the UK and declines along with it, which it undoubtedly will if it remains in the UK. Brexit isn’t an anomaly, it’s just the latest example of an unwillingness of the UK to accept and deal with it’s real position in the world. Arguing, only a few months from Brexit and in the middle of a pandemic, about whether to sing Rule Britannia at the Proms shows just how backward looking and deluded the UK is.
It is staggering that UK spokespersons have the gall to relentlessly state as if it was a fact that Scotland benefits and indeed relies on being part of the UK when there are no facts to support this and more importantly, that the performance of the UK has been so definitively abysmal for so long. GERS is the openly deceptive attempt each year to do this. The UK likes to shout loudly and repeatedly about lies such as GERS but becomes very quiet in the face of facts such as the McCrone Report or why it was hidden for 30 years or where all the North Sea oil revenue went.
However the facts that the UK has, currently is and will continue to be an increasingly stagnating place simply because of the inability of their leaders to face and accept the need to change, are evident in many comparative measures with European & worldwide nations. The performance measure are there and the underlying causes are too. Why these are not being highlighted is beyond me. And unlike the UK’s unfounded lies about Scotland, the facts about the UK’s decline are easy to prove. How can anyone seriously argue that the UK’s economic performance (GDP per capita PPP to use one measure) for decades and for every year, has not been the worst of all comparative European nations.
The UK is and has been bottom in most key economic measures for decades. It’s long past the time when a strong light needed to be shone on this economic reality, the very words the UK cannot accept.
GDP per Person PPP
Productivity GDP per Hour
Capital Investment % of GDP
Current Trade Account % of GDP
Current Trade Account in Dollars
Exports of Goods & Services % of GDP
Research & Development % of GDP
On the above site you can choose countries, measures and date periods to compare the UK against. For all of the above, the UK is the worst in every year compared with Denmark, Germany, Sweden & the Netherlands for varying periods from about 1990 to 2019.
Economic factors aren’t the be all and end all of everything, but the importance of economic performance lies with its direct and huge impact on many social factors, such as health spending, where the UK is yet again bottom each year vs our neighbors. Likewise the UK privatisation of public utilities, with it’s lack of investment, combined with massive payouts to CEO’s and as dividends, has led to a horrendous situation with water pollution in England and Wales. With the UK shortly to be free of EU environmental regulations, Scotland won’t be far behind with this type of disaster if it remains part of the UK. You can add many other looming negative impacts such as reduced food standards and privatisation of the SNHS after Brexit.
So while there may not be much to blog about within Scotland at the moment, there is a lot of information about the UK that needs to be highlighted to help open those soft No or undecided voters eyes and increase support for independence. And also help put pressure on the SNP to get it’s act together, before it’s too late for them and Scotland to avoid suffering the fate of remaining part of the UK. There are many reasons for an independent Scotland, but there are also many reasons against staying in the UK. Highlighting both is likely to be the key to gaining independence.
Fantastic post Arc of Prosperity and a brilliant reply post too Ian! Thank you both.
Glad to see you’re still about!
You’ve highlighted one campaign that is still to be fought – to gain acceptance amongst the general populace (and the SNP leadership) of the need for a Scottish currency. It was the biggest weakness of the 2014 campaign, and it beggars belief that the SNP are persisting with plans to keep sterling.
Politicians love power.
“the SNP don’t see the value in having energised and focused campaigners and bloggers” because those people would threaten that power
After 32 years I left the SNP and joined ISP. It’s good to be motivated again.
Hope you are doing well in Denmark.
The lack of observable action by the SNP is not helping the situation, they seem to be leaving Westminster to destroy themselves, which is not enough at this time. There was an online debate between Dr. Mark McNaught and Pete Wishart last night, in which I thought Pete Wishart came across as inflexible and unwilling to listen to anyone else. With all the Westminster attacks on Scots and International Treaties and Laws, we need more active action from the SNP now, not 2021.
An excellent, thought provoking post from Arc of Prosperity and a wonderfully detailed and considered post in response too by Ian. Huge thanks to you both. In support of that my friend Derick illustrates his own personal experience too, and do you know? None of you are wrong. Many thanks for your educated and illuminating words.
I hope to see more, and soon.