The Princess Nicola MacHiavelli

At first, when I spotted it in the Perth branch of Waterstones, I thought it was a spoof. Selected speeches by Nicola Sturgeon? They’d need to be highly selective, I thought, as I struggled to recall a single soundbite or flash of oratory from her that was stirring, mind-stretching or in any way memorable. The Govanhill Address? I Have a Dream (of a fancy, globe-trolling role with the UN)? We Shall Fight Them in the Court of Session, the High Court and any Holyrood committee I can pack with a band of stooges? Naw, none of those among the list of contents, alas.

Instead, what leapt out were ‘60,000 Excited Little Minds’, presumably a speech about the SNP’s much depleted membership (which stood at double that figure shortly after she became party leader). Another one that caught my eye was ‘Historical Sexual Offences, An Apology’. A tortured soul seeking forgiveness for the cruel ordeal her longtime idol and mentor had (and still has) to endure – despite a (largely female) jury finding him not guilty of any criminality? Nope, no mention of Salmondgate.  

Oh, almost forgot ‘Women Hold Up Half the Sky’, the title of some suitably self-censored pap the FM delivered on a jaunt to Beijing. I should have remembered that as it is also the title of the book (Selected Speeches being merely the subtitle). Nicola nicked that line from Chairman Mao, who probably replaced Eck as her idol when she metamorphosed into a mini tyrant herself.

The crime writer Val McDermid has a cultish devotion to Nicola

Someone who is a very big fan of the FM’s speeches is the Fife-born crime writer Val McDermid. In fact, fandom doesn’t begin to describe her level of cultish devotion to The One she evidently regards as Dreghorn’s version of the Dalai Lama. Taking a wee break from churning out her latest blood splattered page-turner, Ms McDermid penned a short foreword to the aforementioned book, drooling:

In these pages, we see Nicola Sturgeon’s passions laid bare. There’s no empty sloganeering here. Instead, we see a programme for government that’s underpinned by her aspiration for a fairer, healthier, happier nation. Of course, at the heart of it is her absolute conviction that the best route to achieving that is via independence.

Seriously, that is an authentic excerpt. But let me stress (just in case anybody out there is getting a bit too excited) the reference to “passions laid bare” doesn’t signal Fifty Shades of First Ministerial Grey. Mercifully. My favourite chunk of Ms McDermid’s encomium is this:

I’ve been fortunate to spend enough time in the company of Nicola Sturgeon to know that what we see is what we get. I’ve never seen the slightest sign of some ‘secret Sturgeon’ sneering behind her hand at the people she governs or engaging in Machiavellian intrigues for her own benefit. The woman who emerges in private is the woman we see through the lens of these speeches. Except that in private, she’s funnier than the political speech allows.

No matter how many sides she splits in St. Andrew’s House, the FM is nowhere near as funny as Val McDermid. If the paperback writer donned her Doc Martens and delivered the above lines at the Glasgow Pavilion (or, better still, the inaugural Alba party conference), she would be instantly vying with Susan Calman and Jane Godley for the status of Scotland’s favourite comedienne. Her reference to Machiavelli certainly had me rolling in the aisles. 

The man whose surname has become a byword for cold-blooded power games couldn’t have been on the school curriculum in 1960s Kirkcaldy. Nor can I imagine wee Val encountering him when she was the first student from a Scottish state school background to read English at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. Sadly, I wasn’t so fortunate: Niccolo Machiavelli’s most famous treatise The Prince was something I had to get my innocent, young mind around in the first year of my Politics degree at Glasgow University. I’m no expert on his writings but let me tell you this: the First Minister, to invoke one of the her favourite rhetorical rejoinders, doesn’t need to take any lectures from any 16th century Florentine philosopher on how to engage in political intrigues.

Sturgeon should write a manual on the art of political survival

Scotland’s second best crime writer might not be able to detect anything Machiavellian in how her idol operates but others among us assuredly can. In fact, I think Nicola should take a leaf out of old Niccolo’s book and pen her own philosophical manual on the art of political survival and self-aggrandisement. The perfect title would be The Princess. To maximise sales of this short volume in her native land, I suggest our glorious leader selects choice quotations from old Niccolo and offers up her own personal interpretations of these in a mix of the mither tongue and Glasgow patter. Here are a few examples of how this could be done: 

If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.

See if somebody’s growling at you like a dancing bear on a Russian TV channel, sort him oot the Putin way. Dinnae jist try tae pit him in a cage.

The vulgar crowd always is taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar.

The glaikit are aye taken in by the sleekit, and they dinnae come ony mair glaikit these days than the average delegate at an SNP pairty conference. 

How we live is so different from how we ought to live that he who studies what ought to be done rather than what is done will learn the way to his downfall rather than to his preservation.

The mither o’ the nation shouldnae really be bidin wi’ the clan chieftain but, if ye dinnae dae that, you could be a goner sooner.

Benefits should be conferred gradually; and in that way they will taste better.

Even if hauf the population are queuing at fid banks, dinnae rush tae relieve their plight; they’ll be mair grateful if you pit aff introducing welfare changes within your pow’r tae deliver. 

He who becomes a Prince through the favour of the people should always keep on good terms with them; which it is easy for him to do, since all they ask is not to be oppressed.

Jist keep chantin’ ‘We arra peepul’, safe in the knowledge that the peepul are the sheeple and the Scottish press are mair like sheepdugs than watchdugs.

Alright, that’s enough deep philosophical meditations in the vernacular for one day. Rest assured there are many more pearls of Machiavellian wisdom suitable for practical application in the cesspit of Scottish politics. Should the FM ever free herself up sufficiently from Holyrood intrigues to reflect upon these, I stand poised to pen a wee foreword.

28 thoughts on “The Princess Nicola MacHiavelli

  1. Another good blog.
    I am a big fan of mcdermid’s books, but for the life of me I cannot understand her devotion to Nicola.
    As for hoping she is gone soon. Do you have any information to suggest she might be ?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Brilliant!

    Val says “I’ve never seen the slightest sign of some ‘secret Sturgeon’ sneering behind her hand at the people she governs or engaging in Machiavellian intrigues for her own benefit.”

    That’s because Nicola is hiding in plain sight, Val.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Rather hilarious idea that Sturgeon has ever uttered any memorable phrases or observations worthy of preserving. She has no known philosophy or intellectual depth. She supposedly resigned from the law after making a horrible mess of her first forays into the profession.

    So it must be an amazing coincidence that her publisher is a small outfit in the Highlands whose proprietor is a big SNP supporter and who has received over £400,000 in grants from Creative Scotland – and thus does not need to make a profit, presumably, from this comedy book which will be in the remainder bins very soon.

    https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scottish-publisher-supported-public-funds-release-book-nicola-sturgeon-speeches-3130488

    Really you couldn’t make up this work of satire, with its carefully chosen Maoist title – does she have any idea what happened to Madame Mao? You have to laugh at the foolhardy ignorance and hubris in this hamfisted project, although as an insight into the closed mind of the glorious leader it is quite alarming.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Look out for Val’s forthcoming Albacrime novel “Killer Heels” based on an original idea by (redacted). Soon to be promoted on the Boot Hoose contemtabile culture list.

    Breaking : SNP NEC announce new member instructions to prepare their book shelves for immediate scrutiny. All party meetings must commence with taking the oath. A paean to the leader. Place your left hand on your copy and speak your devotion to devolution “we will not be dragged into independence against our will” .

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Brilliant!

    I especially liked this: “The glaikit are aye taken in by the sleekit, and they dinnae come ony mair glaikit these days than the average delegate at an SNP pairty conference.” This ‘glaikit/sleekit’ thesis would also go some way to help explain another wasted one million SNP list votes.

    Maybe Val has been away too long, as far as figuring oot Scotland’s daeless an sleekit indy politicians is concerned, or our longstanding colonial oppression and its close relationship with Scots language and literature: she’s nae MacDiarmid or Kelman.

    As for Nicola/Niccolo, she might take a pointer from Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru, who clearly understands what independence is in his book of speeches entitled: ‘Wales – The First and Final Colony’.

    For thaim wha wants an evidence-based scientific analysis on Scottish independence onywey:

    Like

    1. I wrote about that book some time back on another site and argued that we need a leader in Scotland with Price’s passion and intellect. He’s clearly intent on building real post-colonial National consciousness in Wales.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I had picked up on that. Our leading ‘nationalist’ politicians, if they have a Scottish cultural or national identity, are sweirt to make reference to it except on special occassions. Part in fear of being labelled ethnic nationalists(English must dominate), on other occasions due to their own version of the cringe (lack of identification) and just good old fashioned social climbing due to the wages and lifestyle the job affords them.

        They start to identify with the groups who traditionally fill our health and police boards, head up our public organisations etc.

        It is easy to speak up on behalf of an issue that it is trendy to support but not so easy oppose the political and cultural hegemon that dominates the boards of the organisations that provides some of the information that enters the punters houses via our traditional media.

        The young troops would just dismiss them as virtue signallers.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Isn’t he as pseudo ‘woke’ as Nicola Sturgeon, Jaggy? Maybe he gets Welsh history better than most, but that little homily about women holding up half the sky seems to have lost its efficacy in the Welsh independence ,movement, as it has here. It seems that you can be any party you like, but you must also, and always, be pseudo ‘woke’. It’s the new state religion everywhere: women hold up half the sky… except the bit that is held up by trans women… Mr Price’s party will be colonized as the SNP was. The invasion of the ‘body snatchers’ is just as much about colonization of others’ rights and spaces as the original variety.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I love the comment here aboot self-esteem. What I do find genuinely interesting is all the hardcore Sturgeon supporters-cum-cultists. They’re all weak, weird people, hateful, damaged revenge-seekers clearly gaining self-esteem from attacking others and being in ostensible ‘control’ of a country. They remind me of an old album title by the punk band Alice Donut: Revenge Fantasies Of The Impotent. Hitler (don’t worry, I am not going far with this) also surrounded himself with mentally and emotionally and physically damaged people. Like calls to like, and water finds its level.

        Pity help this country.

        Like

  6. That’s what my take is anyway and having read Alf’s book I think there is a fair degree of truth in that. Hopefully the boy Price doesnae get sidetracked iby California before he manages to re-establish Wales!

    Like

    1. Thanks AB.

      Longstanding demographic trends serve to inhibit potential for Welsh independence, and similarly in the case of Scotland. The lack of border controls between small nations and a much larger populated and also culturally dominant nation inevitably risks dilution of national identity and sovereignty of the smaller entities, and all that comes with that. Next year’s delayed Scottish national census should make for interesting reading. Price understands Wales’ colonial reality and is not scared to discuss it, unlike the SNP elite; the latter are still to figure out that independence and decolonisation are one and the same.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. We keep being told the “demographic” is going to deliver Independence. However this assumes the supply of young radical “Independanistas” is not balanced by a supply of complacent middle-aged financially secure “don’t rock the boatists” at the other end.

        And this is before you factor in the steady supply (what, around 30,000 a year?) of incoming majority NO voters from south of the border.

        The window of opportunity still exists – but not for much longer.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Good luck with the blog. Wings going down is a shocker and leaves a void. So please keep up the good work and mon the jags (pun intended, I’ve got a season ticket)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The (hopefully temporary) demise of Wings has left a gap. I’m fairly new to your work – but goodness, what quality stuff! You deserve to reach a wider audience.

    Makes a change from the grifting going on elsewhere.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Mr Galt. I hope everyone who has been as impressed by this brand new blog as you are spreads the word. In the interests of Scottish democracy, never mind national self-determination, we all need the gap created by Wings’ demise to be filled – rapidly.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. That Machiavelli quote from McDermid is inadvertently revealing and fascinating. It reminds me of whatever beard Prince Edward got ‘married’ to, denying in an interview that he was gay. Of course, that instantly made you think he was. Why even dignify something you don’t believe with a response? After all, it’s not like anybody who hates the FM is going to be reading the book, so there’s no persuading of the target demographic needing to be done.

    Maybe Val was trying to convince herself.

    Liked by 1 person

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