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?