Scottish independence: SNP's permanent revolution is showing signs of Maoist tendencies and George Orwell's Two Minutes Hate – Alastair Stewart

"Brexit" is a tired, dated and ineffective term. It has become a sanitised understatement that does not adequately convey the racism, chauvinism, and jingoism behind it.

A giant portrait of former Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong passes by Tiananmen Square during a National Day parade in Beijing (Picture: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)
A giant portrait of former Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong passes by Tiananmen Square during a National Day parade in Beijing (Picture: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)

The word toasts the UK's retreat from Europe as a clean break. It expresses none of the vulgarity about food shortages and price increases, the Northern Irish Protocol, and dizzying disruption for workers. What we have is a gruesome battlefield amputation.

So begone Brexit. Forget Freedom Day. On 23 June 2016, we started to tighten the tourniquet, and on 31 January 2020, a couple of half-drunk Tory politicians broke out the rusty scalpel. Happy Amputation Day.

And now history repeats itself with the First Minister's announcement of Indyref2. The press launch on 14 June was lacklustre. Nicola Sturgeon looked tired and had no fire for an illicit campaign that necessitates legal mischief and a do-or-die approach.

The First Minister made 15 references to the "UK", five to "Brexit", two to "Boris Johnson" but only one to "currency" andone to "pensions". Among 31 references to "Scotland" and 29 to "our", one might expect a little more detailed vision.

The announcement is the latest in a long line of false-start stunts promising a campaign and vote the following year. It's the snake that eats itself. The SNP's Ouroboros Policy is a permanent revolution designed only to galvanise its supporters. It will only stop when some legal Holy Grail is discovered, giving the party unilateral powers to hold a referendum as often as it likes.

Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson made the seemingly off-the-cuff announcement the vote would be in October 2023. No plans have yet been revealed on how such a referendum would be conducted if the UK Government refuses to grant the Section 30 order transferring the power to hold one to Holyrood (as drafted in the 2012 Edinburgh Agreement). We live in a land of make-believe.

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The "Building a New Scotland" paper series has yet to resolve the most fundamental questions about how an independent Scotland would be achieved. The concrete guarantees about the moral and political righteousness of an independent Scotland are medieval in their ignorance and contemptuous in their naivety.

Proclaiming that Scotland would, not could, be better than the UK is utterly vacuous. The SNP has been handed a gift by Boris Johnson, who anthropomorphises the decades of rot and decay they see in the system. But bogeymen Tories are not the bedrock of a new political system.

Coveting a right-wing wipeout after independence is profoundly sinister. Like with Brexit, the biggest lie the Scottish Government is telling the people is that everything will unreservedly improve because we are in control of our destiny. Is that to suggest we will be a centre-left utopia for a generation? We all know what “once in a generation” means, anyway.

Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler's masterful critique of Stalin's Russia, brilliantly skewers this issue. The novel is set between 1938 and 1940 after the Stalinist Great Purge and Moscow show trials.

The old Bolshevik Rubashov is interrogated by Gletkin, the epitome of Stalin's new guard. Their conversations are effectively a historical assessment of how revolutions and new states are nearly always followed by intolerance and repression to safeguard revolutionary ideas. Rubachov laments the corruption of the Soviet state as far removed from the idealism of the Russian Revolution.

Mao Zedong said a revolution must be continued if it is not to succumb to reactionary forces. Continuous revolution theory is another name for modern Scottish politics.

Proponents of independence are unwilling to answer questions about how things will be better, so it is easier to perpetuate the neverending criticism of today and the promise of tomorrow to keep their politicians in power.

In the eight years, there has been no articulation of the blindspots of currency, cost, and foreign policy. There is no authoritative, exhaustive or detailed analysis, treatise or blueprint, with little more than “the UK is bad, we can be better”.

Anything close to real-world policy divides the SNP and independence supporters. Sturgeon saying Scotland joining Nato is "essential" is driving a wedge between her and independence supporters who condemn a nuclear deterrent as unethical.

Where is the policy detail, beyond a shrug at a difficult question? Germany is among the countries that can create nuclear weapons but agreed they would not do so under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Two Plus Four Treaty.

But Germany participates in Nato nuclear weapons sharing arrangements and allows trains that deliver US nuclear weapons, which are stationed in Büchel.

Scandinavian nations that the SNP has previously hailed as role models for an independent Scotland are following suit. Sweden and Finland submitted applications to join the alliance this year. Would an independent Scotland work around this or embrace it, particularly given the danger of Russian aggression and the invasion of Ukraine?

There is perpetual fighting talk about the Tories and Johnson and Westminster but few substantive policy alternatives beyond to ‘not to be like them’ (whatever that means). A Maoist trend is at play here, with permanent revolution bulwarking against an existential enemy that supposedly threatens our way of life and falsely justifying the "Two Minutes Hate" of George Orwell’s 1984.

The SNP has a mandate to hold a referendum but not to propagate myths on how that will be conducted or romantic daydreams about how the final product will look. The arrogance of Scottish exceptionalism is astonishing. Nationalism is combustible, forever hiding a superiority complex.

Independence supporters want to fight a battle but are unwilling to come fully loaded with the particulars of how to win and then govern. There's cognitive dissonance, a belief that everything will work out if we just get that elusive Yes vote. It is all an outlandish lie.

As the 19th century left-wing philosopher Ferdinand Lassalle wrote, "Show not the goal. But also show the path. So closely tangled."

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