by Rab Bruce’s Spider

There has been a lot of grumbling in some sections of the Yes community about the SNP’s commitment, or lack thereof, to turning Scotland into a normal, self-governing country. Wherever you stand on this point, there have certainly been some very worrying comments coming from senior members of the SNP.

In any field of work, managers soon learn the expression, "Managing expectations". In general, this is a phrase used to describe how to impart bad news to junior members of staff or, indeed, customers. I can’t shake off the feeling that some of the comments we have heard recently fall into this category.

It began a while ago with Pete Wishart putting himself forward for the position of Speaker of the House of Commons. Mr Wishart hasn’t earned the nickname of "Comfy Pete" for nothing, and this was perhaps the greatest signal yet that he feels he is at Westminster to settle down rather than settle up. Since then, he has directed most of his Twitter ire at supporters of the Alba Party rather than at the Tories which is another disappointment.

Then we’ve had Ian Blackford declare that he enjoys working at Westminster and is pals with a Tory peer. Considering that most Tories walk out of the House whenever Mr Blackford stands up to speak, I’d have thought he’d be far more angry with the place than he clearly is. Has he, too, settled down? I sincerely hope not.

And then there is Nicola Sturgeon telling us that she feels British. Now, everyone is entitled to feel how they like, but identity is a very important part of the Yes movement. I have actually been trying to put into words my own feelings on identity which I will readily admit have swung very much towards Scottishness rather than the Britishness I, and many others of my generation, were brought up with. The 2014 IndyRef certainly has a big part to play in this, but I think it is the rise in English nationalism since then which has done more than anything else to make me identify ever more strongly with my Scottish roots. And, if statistics are to be believed, over 60% of Scottish residents feel the same, now identifying as solely Scottish rather than British. Personally, I find it a little disappointing that the leader of the SNP still feels British in spite of the way the British political and constitutional arrangements have treated Scotland.

I really hope all of this is not the SNP attempting to manage our expectations. You can argue that Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to treat the next UK General Election as a plebiscite election shows that she is prepared for the inevitable ruling of the Supreme Court in favour of Westminster, but I am very worried that she is playing right into the Unionists’ hands. Getting a majority of seats should pose no problem, but setting the benchmark as a majority of votes, which is virtually impossible, and then using the UK’s electoral rules of disenfranchising 16 and 17 year olds, EU citizens and anyone without photo ID is simply giving all the advantages to Westminster. I know people would argue that declaring independence on less than 50% of the popular vote would be undemocratic, but the entire Westminster voting system is undemocratic and we have had to live with its consequences for over three hundred years. How can they complain if we use their own rules against them?

But whichever rules we decide to play by, we really need to see some more impassioned statements on why Scotland must become a normal country. It’s all very well publishing a series of documents, but these need to be followed up, and followed up with outspoken passion and conviction. I’m afraid that, so far, all I’m hearing is some managementspeak which seems designed to manage my expectations, and that’s never a good thing.