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More on Scotland… March 5, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This piece on the Sturgeon/Salmond affair (and thanks to JH for the link) is interesting. Not least in this assessment:

Indeed, the immediate effect was to reinforce the peculiar parasocial bond between the First Minister and her fanbase. “I stand with Nicola!” And that hashtag itself represents a strange quirk of contemporary political behaviour….Perhaps I am personally biased against Sturgeon, since her brand of managerial centrism is ideologically the opposite of my own belief system. But this practice is equally odd regardless of whether the bond is with “the Donald”, “AOC”, “Jezza”, “Boris” or “Wee Eck”. Political leadership is necessary, but it should be built on structures of accountability – not fandoms.

I’ve a similar aversion to that form of political fandom. It’s not that I don’t like some of the personalities mentioned, it’s just that reifying them as individuals seems oddly, well, as he says, fannish. And political projects – to my mind – shouldn’t be built around that dynamic because sooner or later the individual will be gone and beyond that investing too much in individuals is a sure-fire way to become disappointed for one reason or another.

As to Scotland, here’s an unexpected but far from incorrect contribution:

Alastair Campbell has said the Alex Salmond inquiry has highlighted ‘double standards’ within UK media when reporting political scandals.Tony Blair’s former spin doctor said the saga has passed beyond the Scottish border in terms of public interest, but has brought to light media hypocrisy. Campbell said that London media seems “less well disposed to covering in quite such detail, and with quite such force, scandals involving the UK government in London”.

And:

“If the London media applied the same judgements and standards to Johnson and his team, as they did to Labour in power, or are doing to the SNP in Scotland now, I suspect he would have been so shredded he’d have gone back to writing columns for the Telegraph and Spectator by now.”

Comments»

1. oliverbohs - March 5, 2021

Regarding Campbell, at least 600 000 died in the Iraqi war, a conflict in which he worked night and day to make happen. So fuck him and his astute analysis on current affairs, and never forget

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Colm B - March 5, 2021

The writer of the first article is a central figure in a group of ex-SWP members who formed an organisation called the ISG, linked to the Counterfire group in England led by former SWP leaders John Reed and Lynsey German.

Although the ISG dissolved a few years back they continue to operate as a tight ginger group. Their basic modus operandi is to attach themselves to whichever mass movement is trending and to try to influence it without acknowledging their existence as a group. It has to be acknowledged that they played a positive role in the Radical Independence Campaign during indyref1, but recently they disbanded RIC using classic undemocratic tactics of packing a zoom meeting with people who hadn’t been active in the org, in order to vote it out of existence.

They are basically the SWP without a paper who’ve discovered Gramsci. They allied with George Galloway, then Tommy Sheridan and now they are making eyes at the Salmondista wing of the pro-indy movement. As part of that they’ve begun to parrot some crude “anti-woke” leftism from the US, chacterising those on the left who are concerned with trans-rights or feminism as some sort of clueless fools who’ve fallen for Clintonite centrism. Their is a setting critique to be made of liberal wokeness without reverting to a crude position that counterpoises class to all other forms of oppression. However the ISGs line is fundamentally dishonest b cause those the accuse of this ultra wokeness are in the main revolutionary socialists committed to class politics.

Of course there is much to criticise with Sturgeon’s undemocratic centrism but you don’t need to ally with Salmond and his merry gang of mysoginistic, conspiracy theory hawking followers.

Btw I think Sturgeon will weather this storm and, whether we like it or not, if she does, it will strengthen the drive for Independence. If she falls, the objective fact is that it will damage the entire project and only the Tories will gain. The best case scenario is that the SNP wins the election but with the Greens making a serious breakthrough as well. Given the state of the radical left in Scotland, in electoral terms, the Greens are as good as it gets. They definitely are more to the left than the Irish Greens, there is a real left trend inside the party.

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WorldbyStorm - March 5, 2021

Just to be clear, absolutely not endorsing Campbell. He has to live with what he did and didn’t do.

Liked by 1 person

pettyburgess - March 5, 2021

Am I missing something here, Colm? Why would they be interested in the Salmondites? Is there some meaningful political distinction between Salmondites and Sturgeonites beyond a rather discomforting willingness to fall in behind a man who women keep making allegations about?

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Colm B - March 5, 2021

The Salmond partisans are a mixed bunch but they’re dominant in the marches and flags section of the pro-indy movement. I think the ISGers see this as fertile ground – that’s why they abandoned RIC and went for the much less explicitly left wing NOW Scotland organisation.

It looks like they think articulating anti- woke left views will ingratiate them with the Salmondistas as well, given the “conspiracy of witches” trope that seems popular in those quarters.

Even though it’s quite a confusing split with weird crosscurrents, , the Sturgeon side represent the centrist, gradualist side of the SNP while Salmond has the backing of the more nationalistic ultras. Overlay that with layers of contradictory stuff – anti-trans feminists on Salmonds side, trans activists on Sturgeon side. Liberal feminists on Sturgeon’s side, mysoginistic anti-feminists on Salmonds side.
For what it’s worth it seems clear that Salmond was an old sexist pig, who, to use an old-fashioned phrase “tried it on” when he had a few drinks. Even if he did nothing more it’s really problematic given the power differential with the women whom he targeted.

I agree that socialists should not get drawn into the personality politics but we can stand up against sexism and mysogyny without lending support to the social liberals who run the SNP.

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benmadigan - March 6, 2021

“For what it’s worth it seems clear that Salmond was an old sexist pig, who, to use an old-fashioned phrase “tried it on” when he had a few drinks”.

That’s a very strong statement.
Remember Salmond was found to be the victim of a policy that was “unlawful, unfair and tainted by apparent bias”.
He was fully acquitted in a jury trial of all charges of criminal sexual behaviour and no appeal was launched to contest the verdict.
Are people innocent before trial, innocent after trial but still somehow guilty?

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Bagatelle's Unseen Tangibles - March 5, 2021

There’s few to the right of the Irish Greens, they’re little better than Liberal mudguards for capitalism. Doing sterling work rehabilitating Dick Spring’s Labour party but.

To say I bear a bitter, irrational attitude of despite for the Irish GP would be to unfairly underestimate the unplumbed depths of my bitter, irrational despite for them 🙂

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Colm B - March 5, 2021

I agree entirely re Irish Greens though I think that there was also an element of naive idealists, most of whom have parted company once the horrors of what joining a right-wing gov entailed became clear.
The Scottish Greens have their fair share of Eamon Ryan style bankrupts but there’s more of an organised left than the Irish Greens ever had. They also have to play the left card more than the Irish lot since they rely more on a pro-indy left vote, in the absence of any serious electoral left force.

Liked by 2 people

Bagatelle's United Threshing - March 6, 2021

Capitalism and the environmental lobby are anathema. They cannot be bedfellows.

Yeah, it does seem the Scottish Greens are doing it right, at least at this remove.

On climate it does feel like political policy only moves with the death of a generation.

Liked by 1 person

Klassenkampf Treehugger - March 5, 2021

Amen to that.

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Colm B - March 5, 2021

Local by-election in central belt yesterday, in town of Shotts and surrounding district. Traditional Labour heartland with strong loyalist element but includes rural area as well. Labour won the seat but percentage-wise just on tiny increase of 1%. SNP had 5% increase, so indicates a stability in overall trends. No sign yet of any major impact from Sturgeon/Salmond saga.

A more crucial by-election also held yesterday in part of Uddingston, satellite town of Glasgow. Again, trad Labour territory but without the rural or loyalist elements so that will be a better test of the wind. Results not in yet.

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Colm B - March 5, 2021

Labour won the second by-election but with 7% drop in their vote. SNP close behind but also dropped (by 4%). Main beneficiary was independent candidate so it may indicate plague on all you houses but more likely just stability.

Liked by 1 person

Jack Jameson - March 6, 2021

Don’t think anyone here would give Alastair Campbell a pass on his part in the Iraq War or New Labour.

Campbell’s views as a skilled media manipulator are not invalidated by his history in Downing Street but rather reinforced by it, as we know from his tenure as PR guru to Tony Blair.

His view on Westminster media is also interesting because he is still loyal to the Labour establishment and certainly no friend of the SNP.

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WorldbyStorm - March 6, 2021

That’s kind of why it struck me once the link was s3nt to. In a way it’s like ‘what’s he up to?’

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2. Colm B - March 5, 2021

Labour won the second by-election but with 7% drop in their vote. SNP close behind but also dropped (by 4%). Main beneficiary was independent candidate so it may indicate plague on all you houses but more likely just stability.

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3. CL - March 6, 2021

” The British media loves a good dog fight and the melodrama of the Sturgeon/Salmond battle has swiftly promoted Scottish politics to the top of the news agenda in a way unseen since the referendum on Scottish independence in 2014….
Since the popularity and competence of Sturgeon is the SNP’s biggest asset at the polls, anything damaging to her – even if it does not destroy her politically – could stall the advance towards a pro-independence vote….
Sturgeon may survive the attack on her, but how much damage will be done to Scottish nationalism, which has shallower and more recent roots than Irish nationalism? ….
The rise of Scottish nationalism in recent decades is in keeping with the increased sense of national identity all over the world in reaction to globalisation. The SNP benefitted from this by becoming the vehicle for economic, social and cultural discontents in Scotland, just as Brexit did in England.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/nicola-sturgeon-alex-salmond-inquiry-scottish-independence-b1813027.html

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Colm B - March 6, 2021

It definitely could stall the pro Independence movement, depending on the final outcome.

However, the pro indy movement is much more complex that any characterisation based on Identity would grant. Remember, the key change since the 2014 referendum has been a massive swing of urban working class voters from Labour to the SNP. Labour abandoned their voters and the SNP just stood still with their vaguely centre left position to harvest the votes. It really wasn’t a matter of Glaswegians and Dundonians suddenly becoming enamoured of their “ethnic identity”.
On the other hand the Tories have experienced a mini-revival from their 1980s wipeout as loyalist Labour voters and conservative rural “tartan Tory” SNP voters gravitated to them.
So the overall dynamic, in terms of popular support, is a move towards independence and the SNP based on a vague, but real, desire for a fairer, more equal society. That’s not the sum total of it of course and the more nationalistic narrative has gained a bit more weight recently but if you are looking for classic blood and soil nationalism, it’s to the British nationalism of the unionists you have to turn. I live and work in working class parts of Glasgow and you rarely see a Saltire hanging from a window but you see plenty of union jack’s – the loyalist minority are very clear about their ethnic nationalism “we are the people” etc. but the pro-indy majority here are much more interested in living in a Scotland not ruled forever by Tories. I’m not denying that identity plays a role in the Indy movement but it’s greatly exaggerated by opponents.

Socialists sometimes make a mistake of just lumping all nationalisms together as some sort of false consciousness. For a really good insight into how Marx’s own view of nationalism developed and matured, I would recommend two excellent books:
Marx on the Margins by Kevin Anderson and Really Existing Nationalism by Erica Benner.

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CL - March 6, 2021

The Kevin Anderson book is useful because using Marx’s extensive writings on Ireland it is a refutation of the Irish revisionist ‘marxism’ of Bew, Patterson, Hazelkorn, etc

” To accelerate the social development in Europe, you must push on the catastrophe of official England. To do so, you must attack her in Ireland. That’s her weakest point. Ireland lost, the British “Empire” is gone, and the class war in England, till now somnolent and chronic, will assume acute forms.” –
(Marx, March 1870, letter to Laura and Paul Lafargue)

Judging by the contributions at the recent Macnamh 100 seminar on Ireland and empire, Irish historiography appears to be entirely ignorant of the vast scholarly literature on the economics of imperialism.

Another useful book is Anthony Brewer’s ‘Marxist Theories of Imperialism’.

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Colm B - March 6, 2021

Thanks CL, will look that book up.

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Bagatelle's Unpublished Theocracy - March 7, 2021

Marx on the Margins and Really Existing Nationalism are available for download.

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Colm B - March 7, 2021

Thanks B.,
Andersons book was a real eye opener for me in relation to Marxist approaches to nationalism.

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CL - March 7, 2021

” The myth that Marx wrote little of value on nationalism or national movements has been sustained by superficial scholarship and attempts to portray him as a class reductionist. In fact, Marx’s extensive writings on Poland and Ireland show a subtle interweaving of nationalism and class in relation to revolution….
On Ireland, the class dimension of Marx’s analysis of nationalism is more pronounced, as he singles out the peasant-based and anti-landlord Fenian movement of
the 1860s as a harbinger, not only of a progressive national revolution in Ireland but also of a wider working-class revolution.” Kevin B. Anderson

Click to access qt4hj7h9fv.pdf

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Colm B - March 6, 2021

Man I just hate that, thought I had posted a long response to CLs piece and it’s disappeared into the ether!

Any way, in a nutshell, the indy movement/SNP support is not primarily about identity, though that plays a role, it is about a desire for a fairer, more equal Scotland, hence the defection of huge numbers of former Labour voters. The unionists are far more dependent on British nationalist identity politics.

Socialists have a tendency to lump all nationalism together as some sort of false consciousness, a tendency that ignores the mature Marx’s much more nuanced approach.

Two really good books on this topic:
Marx at the Margins by Kevin Anderson.
Really Existing Nationalism by Erica Benner.

Liked by 3 people

Colm B - March 6, 2021

Oh for goodness sakes, it appeared after all. I just too old for social media!

Liked by 1 person

sonofstan - March 7, 2021

Breuilly’s Nationalism and the State is good from a not particularly Marxist view, but one that grasps the complexity of nationalisms

Liked by 2 people

Colm B - March 7, 2021

Thanks SoS, I’ll check that one out.

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sonofstan - March 7, 2021

Just came across this line, which seems apposite: ‘recently it has become acceptable to see nationalism as a disease, especially when it is someone else’s nationalism’ – Appadurai in Modernity at Large.

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4. FergusD - March 6, 2021

Salmond was acquitted of the charges against him by a number of women. The jury was majority women. This needs to be born in mind.

Liked by 1 person

Colm B - March 6, 2021

Yes, you are right. He was acquiyed of the charges but you can be a sexist arse without breaking the law. His own lawyer acknowledged that he was a “sex pest”. Just like exploring workers in certain ways is entirely legal, other oppressive reactionary behaviour is legal. From the socialist perspective we oppose all oppression and exploitation.

If anyone doubts the reactionary nature of some of the Salmondistas have a look at the execrable Wings Over Scotland site for a flavour.

Of course the dominant Sturgeon wing are centrist social liberals but that doesn’t make their opponents left-wing.

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Colm B - March 6, 2021

exploiting workers not exploring workers!

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WorldbyStorm - March 6, 2021

+1 Colm B. I was surprised to learn of Salmond’s foolishness, and I guess I always am about people in the public eye who act like that. As you say, even if not guilty of the charges made by his lawyer’s own testimony AS is problematic in regards to his approach to women. I”m interested that the consensus of opinion is that Sturgeon emerged from the week effectively undamaged.

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Colm B - March 6, 2021

I think so far she has weathered the storm but it’s not over yet.
Talking to friends and work colleagues I don’t detect a negative reaction to her appearance at the committee except from people who already hate her because they are unionists. It never ceases to amaze me how Sturgeon attracts such vitriol, given what a safe, centrist, classic politician she is. There’s definitely a strong element of sexism there.

On the other side, it is a bit ironic now to hear the same uber-nats who declared anyone who didn’t vote SNP on both list to be “Yoon traitors” now declaring that anyone who does vote SNP is a traitor. But, and here’s the key, I don’t think it has any resonance with the average punter; the new second list nationalist parties haven’t even registered on the polls, not even a blip on the radar.

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benmadigan - March 6, 2021

“AS is problematic in regards to his approach to women”.
“you can be a sexist arse without breaking the law”

Mr Salmond was in the public eye for years and there was no hint of sexual scandal.
In the work-up to the case, the police service in Scotland investigated over 200 women who knew or had worked with Salmond, yet unearthed nothing.

Who are these slurs continuing and who benefits from them?

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WorldbyStorm - March 6, 2021

I take the point Ben, but on the other hand I’ve seen directly how people who are abusive to others (male and female) are in some instances, particularly in political contexts, protected by those around them in such a way that beyond a core few are aware of problems. Indeed very much similar dynamics were in the news in this state (the ROI) only in the last year, so I can well believe that someone can act in certain inappropriate or worse ways and not necessarily be seen even by people who work with them in that way. I think Colm’s point still holds, Salmond could do absolutely nothing that warranted a court case and still be, as his own lawyer says, a sex pest. That’s quite an admission and something no one on the progressive side of the fence would want said about them, least of all by their own lawyer!

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roddy - March 6, 2021

Would Tom Crean have been an exploring worker or would he have been the boss of exploring workers?

Liked by 1 person

5. benmadigan - March 6, 2021

Sorry typo in last line of previous comment. It should read:

Why are these slurs continuing and who benefits from them?

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Colm B - March 6, 2021

He was found innocent of rape and sexual assault. He was also by the admission of his own lawyer a “sex pest”. The “slurs are continuing” because they are not slurs. If I said he is a rapist that would be a slur but I didn’t, I said he is what his lawyer said he was, “a sex pest”.

It’s not against the law to be a sexist arse who “tries it on” when they’re drunk. But that is clearly what Salmond was. Being a powerful man who “tries it on” with women who are in subordinate positions is not illegal but it is something that I would presume socialists agree is abhorrent. Just like paying you’re staff minimum wage and keeping them on zero hour or temporary contracts is not illegal but it is abhorrent.

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Colm B - March 6, 2021

I always like Mike Small’s analysis at Bella Caledonia, even if I don’t agree with everything he says:
https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2021/03/05/water-boarding-with-margaret/

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benmadigan - March 7, 2021

Yes Colm but the boss paying zero hours contracts is not being lambasted in the press and social media for his “abhorrent” habit after being found not guilty in the courts.
Why must we be constantly reminded of Mr Salmond’s personal failings and who benefits from the constant reminders?

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WorldbyStorm - March 7, 2021

That’s a fair point but… I think the reality is when a trial or an investigation comes up it’s inevitable that there’ll be a certain focus – people do have the right to bring a case even if they lose – and people have the right to draw conclusions about behaviours that are made clear during it. Also and this is key, it’s not either or- we should be able to do two things simultaneously and frankly crap behaviour even if not illegal is still crap behaviour and shouldn’t be tolerated

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Colm B - March 7, 2021

Well Ben, I guess I we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I don’t see Salmond’s behaviour as just a personal failing but indicative of a structural process called patriarchy just as I see the bosses actions of indicative of a structural process called capitalism. Both entail exploitation and oppression, both entail abhorrent behaviour but both are perfectly legal.

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Bagatelle's Untried Temptations - March 7, 2021

+1

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6. Paul Culloty - March 9, 2021

Scottish Socialists now standing for Holyrood, which should bolster the Green support:

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Colm B - March 9, 2021

Hmm, restrictions eh? More like an continously abysmal vote over the last decade. But at least the electoral masochism has ended for the moment.

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Colm B - March 9, 2021

Only a broad United left party could make an impact and to be fair that is not the sole responsibility of the SSP. And even then success is not guaranteed as the RISE debacle showed.

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