Richard Mackinnon, an oft-frustrated Labour Hame commenter, tells us of his cynicism at our current politics, and sets out a radical plan for Scotland’s future which he cynically believes can never happen.


Duncan has challenged me to write an article for Labour Hame. I am a regular contributor of comments on the Labour Hame site, I have been for a good few years, and recently most of my comments have been critical in some way regarding the articles. That, I admit, is wrong; it is unfair to warm your hands at the fire without bringing a log or two to burn. But there is no doubt I have become cynical about politics.  I don’t think this unreasonable.  Let me try and explain why.

I voted Yes in 2014.  I was a member of the SNP.  I joined in the early 80s and was active throughout that time.  I am no longer a member of the SNP, indeed I am not a member of any political party.  The reason I stopped my membership in 2015 is relevant and I will explain later why I resigned.

And I voted Remain in 2016.  But I accept democratic decisions, therefore I accept both of the referendum results and I believe they are now cast in stone.

Why am I a cynic?  The reason I left the SNP is a good start.  I left because, as I say, I believe that the Scottish referendum result of 2014 will not be overturned, nor should it be.  I came to that conclusion before September 2014.  I concluded that the result, whichever way it turned out, had to be final. There was, therefore, no longer any reason for me to be a member of the SNP.

But the clincher, the reason I had to get out of the party, was due to an end-of-session proposal by the Labour Party at Holyrood to introduce ‘presumed consent’ regarding organ donation in Scotland in, I think, March 2015.  The SNP opposed it, and defeated the proposal.  But presumed consent was the right thing to do.  It was opposed purely because of the tribal hatred between the SNP and Labour.  I was disgusted by that decision.  I had to distance myself from that type of pettiness, so I resigned.

I could go on here regarding the SNP, their hypocrisy in playing the games at Westminster, that they carry out this Tory government’s dirty work in Scotland, but lets move on to Labour. Why am I a cynic towards them?

The Labour Party has a big part to play.  Scottish Labour opposed independence in the 2014 referendum. They threw their all into defending the union. The Scottish Labour hierarchy never took into consideration the opinion of their lifelong supporters.  And significant proportion of Labour’s traditional support voted Yes.  The opinion of this core support was of no consequence.  They were being told how they were meant to think about independence.

The only thing that motivated Scottish Labour was their total opposition to the SNP.  Therefore the only position to adopt in 2014 was No to an independent Scotland.  I do not believe Scottish Labour even considered for one moment any possible benefits that may have come from independence; the only driving force was opposition to all things the SNP believed in.  That is too often Labour’s  (UK and in Scotland) default position;   when they have no opinion, react by opposing ‘the enemy’.

So now to the Scottish Conservatives.  They don’t believe in independence,  we know that.  But they don’t believe in devolution either.  They opposed the 1997 referendum to create/re-establish a Scottish parliament.  OK, I can see their get out clause;  they claim that they accepted the verdict of the majority. But everyone can see they sit at Holyrood but they don’t like the place.

And look where we are now with this Conservative government.  The Brexit referendum was Cameron’s bright idea to finish off the fringe element of his party that had a genetic hatred of the EU.  It was a minority core group of the Tory establishment.  No one saw the Leave result coming. It was never meant to happen, but it did.  And now we are looking at the break up of the European Union.

And again to my cynicism – remember “The only way to secure Scotland’s place in the EU is to vote No”?  That is beyond cynical. That is now a sick joke.

Let me go back to Labour for a moment.  Jeremy Corbyn.  Is that possible? He got his name on the ballot paper for the leadership after Miliband to ‘balance the list’, and now he is in charge.  Last year Labour MPs tried to overthrow him and he ended up unchallengeable.

Back to the SNP.  The SNP,  I think, no longer believe in an independent Scotland.  Their MPs and MSPs know that the game is up and survival of the party and the good jobs is now all that matters.  I believe that last year when the SNP forced that daft commitment of a future Scottish Parliament to a second referendum that they were putting in place an obstacle to prevent the possibility of a potential catastrophic disaster to the party. The potential disaster? Being forced into a one statement nuclear manifesto pledge at any up and coming general election.

I admit this is a bit of a conspiracy theory,  but I believe that SNP strategists knew a general election was likely to be called last March and that they saw that the SNP could be forced to fight it on a one issue manifesto: ‘Vote SNP and if a majority of SNP MPs are returned then the SNP government in Scotland will take that as a mandate to negotiate independence’. I think that Sturgeon and her senior staff saw that this posed too much of a risk to the party, as a defeat would have finished the SNP as a political force.

A diversion tactic was necessary,  and committing a future Scottish government to a second referendum (although impossible to enforce) was proposed as a spoiling tactic.  I believe that the second referendum proposal was a deliberate obstacle placed by the SNP hierarchy to prevent any radical voices within the SNP into forcing the nuclear GE option,  everything on the table, winner takes all.  That is what they should have done if they were honest about independence.  It would (had the result been as it turned out) have turned Brexit into a side show.  It would have created a real constitutional crisis but I believe they put the Scottish National Party before the cause that they say they believe in.

But now back to Labour.  I could spend an article on Corbyn and Momentum alone, and maybe I will sometime in the future.   In fact the Corbyn story is so unbelievable cynicism does not come into it.

Corbyn keeps my cynicism at bay.  Cynics believe they can see what’s happening,  that they can predict bad things coming, but cant stop it, hence the cynicism.  You can’t do that with Jeremy Corbyn.   And that story has still got a long way to run.  But this I am sure of: it will never end up in Downing Street, because Jon Lansman will not let that happen.  I suppose that is a cynic’s way of looking at the present day state of the Labour Party.

This all leads me to one conclusion about Holyrood. I believe devolution has run its course. I say that because the Scottish Parliament was set up to ‘stop nationalism in its tracks’,  and it has (although it hasn’t stopped the rise of the nationalist party).  As long as there was the goal/threat of independence in sight,  devolution still kept evolving and the Scottish parliament was a dynamic place.  However on the 18.09.2014 the devolution experiment was tested to the limit and Scotland decided not to take it to its natural conclusion.  We pulled back, rightly or wrongly.  The union remained intact.

Holyrood is now I think, therefore surplus to requirements.  Unnecessary. It is now no more than a vanity project.  It looks silly because it is. We, Scotland, voted to remain as part of the UK.  And so I think we should fully embrace that decision. That is what you should do when you have to make a decision one way or another.  Heads or tails. Call it and go for it. 100%.

Therefore I think we should abandon the devolution project.  I believe that the first Scottish political party that picks up on this common sense will be rewarded in the long term.  I believe that one of the unionist parties,  Labour or Conservative, should campaign to dissolve the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.  Let the civil servants run the Scottish office as they did for 300 years.  But in tandem,  and this is the proposal that would eventually gather support around it,  slim down Scotland’s 32 local councils to a reasonable number,  by consensus and with respected sound argument. 32 councils is crazy for a country the size of Scotland.  Pass down (devolve) the powers of Holyrood to those Scottish councils.  Give those councils real powers to run their own affairs. And as a consequence, realign Scottish local government with that of England.

But of course I know this will never happen,  and I am sure I don’t need to explain why.  Another reason for my cynicism.

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19 thoughts on “Cynicism

  1. Well Richard you have been driven to blog and Duncan has not intervened haha.
    There were a lot of reasons the referendum in 2014 was lost because most people just did not want indy .
    I was a patient in 2 hospitals that year .
    I am a member of the Labour Party have been since 83 .
    I helped out in 14 .All I could do to help was do phone polling for the remain side some of the comments were brilliant and very funny .
    Don’t believe pensioners don’t swear they informed me what they thought of all our leaders and their collective lack of intellectual ability .
    On one occasion I was on the phone getting an earwigging for having the nerve to phone during Coronation Street .I was getting told where I could shove my phone by the good lady of the house and apologising profusely
    When I heard Team yes canvassers at the door getting a roasting from the man of the house .
    Even worse they decided to argue back . Things escalated quickly oh bliss.
    The next day I saw them in the SNP hub still trying to recover haha .
    But Richard I am sorry you have left the SNP . Its always better to fight from within .
    When I have had time to consider your blog I will comment again .
    That way you will get at least 2 comments haha

  2. I think you’ve gone way beyond “cynical” and are well ensconced in “bitter” Richard. The idea that if you don’t want it all you shouldn’t have any of it is, I believe, bitter in the extreme. I hope you can find a way back from it some time soon.

    1. Thanks for the comment Me-Bungo-Pony.
      I don’t need sympathy. I am quite comfortable with my views on our politicians.
      You will have to expand on, “The idea that if you don’t want it all you shouldn’t have any of it is, I believe, bitter in the extreme.” I don’t follow what you mean there.

      1. Simply, that you fought for independence but, having narrowly lost that vote, you are now advocating an end to any form of self government and a return to full London rule. It gives the impression that, having not got the cake you wanted, you’ve gone in the huff and don’t want anyone to have any cake at all. It does appear more bitter than cynical.

        I just hope you get over the “bitterness” (as I see it) and return to the Indy fold as soon as possible. Indy was, and remains, the best chance for a prosperous and socially just Scotland. Hoping a Parliament hundreds of miles away will eventually deliver it, with an effectively token Scottish representation, failed miserably in the past, fails miserably now and will almost certainly continue to fail miserably in the future.

        1. OK. I can see why you think I sound like a bad loser and how it looks as if I have had a complete 180′ change of mind because I didn’t get the result I wanted.If have changed my mind.

          But I decided before the vote that the result was going to be of historical significance, which ever way it turned out; that 18/09/14 was going to be the day Scotland’s constitutional destiny was decided for ever and that I would accept the decision. So its unfair to accuse me of being bitter.

          The idea of a second referendum that Yes supporters still cling on to is an ‘unreasonable expectation’, thats me being generous, and a childish ‘farther christmass fantasy’ in reality. It will not happen nor should it.
          That I think is what a lot of our politicians believe also. They cant say it. Nationalists politicians obviously, but neither can Davidson or Mundell as they would get the back lash from sounding too arrogant. But they know it.

          Im repeating myself here but I am going to say it again because I don’t think there has been enough attention paid to this point; the reason I am sure of what I say is because the SNP last year turned down the last chance to stand up to this Brexit Tory government and fight Scotland’s cause.
          After 18.09.14 there looked like there was no hope left for Scottish independence. A life line was thrown by the Brexit referendum, but that life line came with conditions. The first condition was that Scotland would have to vote Remain and the second, England had to vote Leave.

          Nobody saw that double coming. Nobody bet on it. Nobody thought Brexit was going to happen, not even Farrage. But it did and Scotland was now going to be taken out of Europe against its wishes. It was all the aces in the pack and they were all in Strurgeon’s hand.

          Sturgeon new that TMay was going to call a general election at sometime last year but she didn’t know when. Sturgeon could have held onto that hand and waited for the general election to be called and then played it. She could have fought the GE on the constitution ‘Vote SNP for Scotland in stay Europe’ but she didn’t.

          Imagine that? That is what nationalists should be fantasising over. What if Strurgeon had played the GE on a one statement constitutional question? Sturgeon would now be centre stage in Europe negotiating Scotland’s continued membership rather than as she finds herself now, ignored, irrelevant. But enough of fantasising. I don’t do that.

          All this tells me that the Scottish National Party don’t believe in independence any more.

          Me-Bungo-Pony, I have been pushing this theory of mine for months now. I am keen to hear it challenged by a Scottish nationalist or anybody. May be I am missing something obvious. If so I am happy to be corrected. But so far the only reaction I get is ‘don’t be so bitter’.

  3. Great article Richard. Best I have read in ages.

    “Therefore I think we should abandon the devolution project”

    Spot on.

    We are leaving the EU. All the power is heading back to Westminster.

    Why should Scotland tolerate having 2nd class/restricted/less powerful MP’s in the Westminster Parliament?

    It would make good sense to take out the Holyrood layer of Government.

    Perhaps it’s time to shut Holyrood down?

    We should have a vote.

    1. Perhaps we should have a vote that reflects Richard’s world view.

      Unionists should tell the Scottish people devolution is no longer an option and they are to be given the choice of either full independence (all decisions that affect Scotland being made in Scotland by a Parliament elected by Scots with Scotland’s interests paramount) or a return to full Westminster rule (all decisions that affect Scotland being made in London by a Parliament where Scots are a tiny minority with Scotland’s interests given little or no thought or importance).

      As Sir Humphrey would say, “that would be a courageous course of action”. With support for independence/devolution leading surrender to full London rule by about 90 points, I would fully endorse that referendum (for what it’s worth).

      Be careful what you wish for Andy.

  4. As I said I am a member of the Labour Party . But its my view you get.
    A way back in the 80s We had Maggie the Poll Tax 1 year before England Industry shutting down every day etc
    During the miners strike a friend of mine said at the time and again recently if the SNP had been relevant we might have gone for it.
    I was not working at the time I joined Labour because they were campaigning on this .
    And under Richard Leonard and Jeremy Corbyn I see signs we are going into that campaign mode again .
    The campaign to get Holyrood devolution . As an ordinary member I always knew we would not get it from Maggie . So that in my opinion gave party leaders time to build a political coalition .
    My view at the time was if we got Maggie elected again that would for me not be acceptable and I would vote Indy .
    Devolution for me meant I wanted an institution that could stop Scotland getting something like the Poll Tax 1 year before England . I also thought we should give it the ability to raise its own finances .
    So I joined the discussions in my local CLP and went on the demonstraitions .
    I saw the heavy police surveillance in Glasgow and Edinburgh they had cameras on roofs etc .
    Donald Dewar and Alec Salmond had a hard job getting it through their parties
    It was Tony Blairs government to their credit that introduced the legislation that set it up.
    Fast forwarding to 2014 Alec Salmond with a Holyrood majority .
    Had to keep his party united and go for a referendum .
    I after a stay as a patient in 2 Hospitals that year so I took part in phone polling for remain
    I remember the fear of English people many of them here all their working lives who told me they would have to consider their future in Scotland if we went Independent .
    I remember telling them its your country as well as mine.
    I thought the better together campaign was a disaster that still won . That should tell The SNP something .
    We are told Scotland was lied to by the SNP no we were not.
    During that campaign in the tv debate when Alec Salmond got stuck on the currency question .
    Postal votes arrived the next day .
    That for me was very important and might have swung it .
    That’s just my opinion .
    On voting day I was not supposed to go out but me and my oxygen bottle went for a paper big mistake .
    A 10 min walk took 30 mins .
    I have a postal vote .On the way for the paper I met 3 people separately .
    They were on the way home from the polling station .
    No1 who had argued with me for years he was an ardent nationalist voter . Had voted no the reason
    Yes were keeping the pound and the queen he said whats the point .
    No 2 who was also a yes voter voted no because he got into a barny at the polling station over Culloden
    No 3 was a don’t know got to the station someone was using racist language she voted no.
    I thought it was doable for yes the better together campaign was that bad .
    I did have a feeling yes were being to starry eyed all those famous people saying yes were annoying people
    so were rent a crowd waving flags every night on the telly .
    On result day at 6am on what must have been the worst political day of his life stood down as leader and First Minister .That nipped the comments and any infighting from Jim Sillars and Gordon Wilson in the bud
    For me Alec Salmond was the only leader who acted with dignity that day . Because PM David Cameron did not at 7am when he made his English Votes statement .
    That transformed the situation and pulled the SNP together like nothing else could .
    The other thing was the SNP were still in power at Holyrood
    The EU referendum he did it to see of UKIP .
    I knew right from the start immigration would decide it Calais was in the news every night
    The arguments going now between the UK government and the EU should have been aired during the campaign .
    I will end now by saying we need Holyrood more than ever .
    Nicola in my view to get her party out of a jam . Said she will decide on another Indy ref in October .
    She believes in it passionately .If she thought she could win she would call a ref tonight .
    Its not about calling a ref its winning it Nicola knows that so in October will all those yes groups forming and will the party membership let her delay again .
    You have got my thoughts don’t give up Richard and just to cheer everyone up this comment is coming to an end
    The beast from the East is here and the BBC is saying storm Emma is above Portugal just now and might head our way.

  5. Thanks Richard
    I had to attend the surgery today for an injection . Phoned the surgery yes I had to attend phoned stagecoach yes bus running .
    Then the bus sat at the bus stop with the door open .
    When we passengers all recognized each other in the surgery . We all agreed we were to cold to ask the driver to close the door I was physically shaking with the cold .
    Driver was probably a NAT out to get me haha.

    1. David,
      I hope the medical stuff is going well.
      Please don’t judge every bus driver by the speed they close their doors. I know a few bus drivers, they make a point of bouncing into every pot hole in the road. There is one in particular, he picks me up at Tesco’s Maryhill Road. His timing is perfect, every time, looking in his mirror, waiting for me to plonk the arse down, and just at that moment, he slams the foot down. He has it to a tee, Its a pure embarrassment. Unionist threw and threw.
      Then once I get to my seat I ask myself, Maybe the driver is a nationalist who doesnt like old people?
      Who knows?

      1. Ah Richard how about when there is a huge que waiting no bus .Then we see urgent activity in the Stagecoach travel shop in Irvine .
        2 buses sitting at the traffic lights always at red .
        The inspector in his nice yellow jacket comes out with an urgent waving of arms . The 2 buses one day it was 5 come through the lights with much peeping of horns .
        Then our inspector in his nice yellow coat sprints across the road in front of traffic to get to us.
        Is he coming to help us no .
        He is coming across to move a bus on without picking up after dropping of .
        I have told him if sprinting across a busy road to move busses on was an Olympic sport he would win gold every time
        And anyway if your in Maryhill phone Taggart tell him theres been a murder haha

  6. Basic fundamentals are important: Democracy is an evolving process – ‘final solutions’ are for selfish authoritarian Nazi (Scotland is supposed to be a democracy).

  7. Democracy is not cast in stone, at all – it is a participatory process. Things naturally evolve, situations change, and unforeseeable circumstances arise (e.g. Brexit omnishambles; Scotland being dragged out of the EU against its overwhelming democratic will; the fraudulent pledge to Scotland that it was an equal rUK partner etc.).

    You can’t attempt to claim ownership of democracy over intragenerational and intergenerational equity (that would be extremely selfish, authoritarian and stupid).

    The reality is (whether you like it or not) is that Scotland currently has a democratic, parliamentary and moral mandate for another referendum (thank goodness for that).

    Nothing under a democratic system is final. Scotland’s democracy under the Great British system is essentially a banana democracy and not fit-for-purpose (i.e. others’ external to our democratic process can overrule us and dictate our most fundamental aspects, such as our culture, identity, affilliations, and future (is such democratic inability a positive thing and what we really want?).

    Labour should be well aware of such basic fundamentals – democracy is the very foundation of civilised and a cohesive society.

    I value and cherish Scottish democracy and want to ehance and strengthen it, and it to mean something of true value.

    Scotland, its democracy and future is in a very precarious and dangerous position (i.e. ‘Bigger Picture’).


  8. Never thought I would see the word Nazi under any circumstances .
    The mandate for another indy ref as I understand it runs out at the next Holyrood Election .Although I might be wrong.
    So what will be the consequences be for the SNP be if they fail at the next election to secure a pro Indy parliament even in alliance with the Greens .
    The depute leader contest although for SNP members to decide .Seems to me is so far between 2 candidates who want an indy ref 2 vote this year and Keith Brown who might be willing to wait so he Nicolas guy .
    She knows its not holding a ref its winning it.
    But all those supposed independent of the party yes groups and hubs and cafes now springing up will they let her delay yet again .
    Or will they have the courage to hold the leadership to account

    1. It is a shame isn’t it, this is supposed to be the 21st century of civilised democracy (not archaic authoritarian and Imperial feudal systems).

      The premise of my argument was all about the principles, value and importance of democracy.

      I was merely stating facts about the mandate for another Scottish independence referendum.

      I don’t know what the consequences will be for the SNP should they fail at the next election (I’m not a member of the SNP and have never been) – I assume that the fight and movement for independence will continue (democratic national independence is a core SNP ethos and founding principle to which it has never wavered from).

      I respect and trust Nicloa Sturgeon’s judgement (significantly more so than that of pro-unionist political parties) in doing what is best for Scotland, its people, and its future.

      I percieve Brexit as an unmitigated clusterf*** and extremely detrimental and potentially damaging for Scotland, and its future, and will prove extremely counterproductive in preserving a United Kingdom of equals, and a United Kingdom – full stop.

      I really honestly cannot percieve that Labour (given that its principles, values, and direction are all over the place, with little to zero sign of mitigation) neither the dastardly and treacherous Tories will form the next Scottish government (paradigm shifts are extremely rare).

      I wholly agree with your sentitment, in that it is winning our independence (and protecting our democracy) that is the priority – not losing it.

      I am (and many others are) a strong believer in democracy and the fundamental Right to self determination and will never give up the plight…

  9. Thanks for your comment Gregor maybe we can agree in 2 things
    Welcome to our shores the newly born cub . In the highland wildlife park and Wally the Walrus who has just arrived in the Shetlands

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