Kenny MacAskill: The independence movement will no longer wheesht

“We didn’t know at all,

We didn’t see a thing,

You can’t hold us to blame,

What could we do?

It was a terrible shame,

But we can’t share the blame,

On no, not us, we didn’t know”

The chorus of Tom Paxton’s wonderful song ”We Didn’t Know” that condemns silence in the face of wrongdoing and injustice came to my mind listening to the bleating of some senior SNP figures over recent days. The Deputy Leader eulogising the Party's internal Democracy and the Westminster Leader unaware of the resignation of auditors.

According to them, it’s just some minor blip, nothing to see here Sir just move along. But instead, it’s a would you accompany us to the station Sir? So, there are serious allegations requiring answers.

More than that this isn’t just some issue that crept up on them or were the actions of a senior staffer gone rogue. It’s not a moment of madness concocted by an individual after a recent full moon. Others knew and were involved or consciously did nothing.

It’s a culture that developed under Nicola Sturgeon. It’s not just about the accounts but an authoritarian regime that brokered little dissent, stifled the internal democratic process and sought to neuter and sideline the independence movement.

Rather than hectoring other individuals, decrying other Independence parties or denying the scale of the issue, there should instead be some humility shown. This has impacted the movement. Its effects are far wider than simply on the SNP. I know many who have been stalwarts for our shared cause and who were either not in any party or in one where success was as forlorn as for the old SNP. But they kept the cause alive when the SNP became a fan club or preferred self-ID to self-determination all the time giving themselves grandiloquent titles or padding their salaries rather than pursue the cause.

The Movement is alive and well, but the days of supine acceptance of SNP diktat are gone, as are the days of being told it’s not now, it’s too soon or just to wheesht. It’s game on with or without them.


(This article was first published in the Scotsman on 27.04.23)


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