The Great Mistake 226

The SNP risks a great loss in putting Independence on the back-burner. They have the huge energy of the street Yes campaign behind them. Shifting from fifth gear to reverse risks not only loss of momentum, but damage. “Go out and work for Independence!” is what 80,000 new members want to hear. “Go out and work for Devo-Max and a supply and confidence agreement with Labour at Westminster”, is not.

I was not too concerned at reports that Alex Salmond had said that Independence may not feature in the SNP’s coming Westminster manifesto, and it would be up to Nicola Sturgeon. It was just one interview, and the great man was possibly just musing, I thought. But then we had Nicola Sturgeon’s message to all members, repeated as adverts in the newspapers, setting out the stall for the General Election. This makes no mention of Independence at all.

I think there are two major mistakes here. The first is that rather than state its fundamental beliefs, the SNP is tailoring its message to be appropriate to a specific tactical situation – a hung parliament with the SNP able to sustain a Labour-led government, in return for certain demands. Tailoring the message to this circumstance is a mistake because it is a scenario which is entirely beyond the power of the SNP, or even Scotland, to bring about. And my very firm prediction is that it will not happen.

Labour and the Tories are neck and neck in recent polls, but I fully expect the Tories will make ground, as the incumbent government always does in the final months before a UK general election. They have the opportunity of a populist budget to boost them. UKIP support will dip, disproportionately returning to the Tories. Murdoch will back Cameron, along with the Mail, Express and Telegraph. The Tories have over twice the campaign funds of Labour. The LibDem vote will plummet but they will hold on to more of their own seats UK wide than a uniform swing would indicate. I am willing to bet that the Conservatives remain in power, probably still as the ConDems, after the General Election.

In this scenario, what happens in Scotland is irrelevant to who forms the UK government – as so often. Whether there are more Labour or more SNP on the opposition benches will make little difference to Cameron and Osborne. What will happen, however, is an increasingly urgent demand for Scottish Independence in the face of five more years of unwanted Tory rule in Scotland.

It is tactically essential that, in this scenario, the SNP MP’s can claim to have been elected on a clear mandate for Independence. The SNP may have a majority of Scottish MP’s after May. There will be a vote on whether the UK leaves the EU. Should the UK vote to leave the EU (which is not improbable), the demand for Scottish Independence may become overwhelming. If at that stage we have a majority of Scottish MP’s clearly elected for Independence, there are a number of possible options for achieving Independence. If however those MPs were elected only on a platform that prioritised Devo-Max, the arguments look very different.

The second major mistake is that Devo-Max is unobtainable. Whitehall and Westminster will never agree to hand over to Scotland its full oil or whisky revenues. It is in any event not possible for Scotland to run an expansive fiscal policy within the overall control of the Treasury and Bank of England. It is possible to get limited extra powers for the Scottish parliament. The Smith Commission is very close to the limit of what Westminster will ever agree within the Union. Even were Smith to be fully implemented (which like Calman it won’t) it is no substitute for Independence.

And as I have frequently stated, so long as our foreign and defence policy is still controlled by Westminster, so long as they can still send Scots to fight and die in illegal wars, so long as they can involve us in hideous torture and permanent conflict in the Middle East, we have not obtained ethical responsibility, and the rest means little.

Many No voters already regret their vote. The SNP does not need to pitch its message to appeal to continuing unionists. As the Independence vote is heavily behind the SNP, while the Unionist vote has more significant diversions between Labour, Tory, Liberal and UKIP, under first past the post the Yes voters alone will sweep the board – which is precisely what opinion polls show as happening.

The other thing we know from the Referendum is that a significant number of SNP voters, voted No. The truth is that not every supporter of the SNP is a fervent supporter of Independence. Certainly a great many members do not relate to the social radicalism and desire for sweeping societal change that motivated so much of the astonishing street Yes campaign.

The SNP has now a substantial professional class. It has MSP’s, Scottish ministers, MP’s and MEP’s, and all their research assistants, secretaries, constituency secretaries and SPADs. It has paid councillors, committee chairs, leaders of councils. It has a Chief Executive and HQ staff. If the process of gradualism has brought you a good income and a comfy living, it is a natural temptation to see the accretion of a few more powers, and the addition of a lot more jobs for MP’s and their staff, as all part of useful progress, without wanting to risk anything too radical. Independence can become a misty aspiration, lost in the day to day concerns of genuinely ultra-important stuff like running the NHS or schools or local transport.

The SNP is not the small band of noble rebellious souls it once was. It is now a major institution in itself, and part of the fabric of the British state. Institutions, even composed of the nicest people, always develop and protect their corporate interest.

I worry that the downplaying of the Independence goal for the General Election may drain the fire from those 80,000 Yes-oriented new members. I worry even more that this may not be an accident.

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226 thoughts on “The Great Mistake

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  • Bob Costello

    Absolutely spot on Craig I have been banging on allong these lines since the referendom . The SNP are sleepwalking into a disaster and if they think that the tories and labour will allow the SNP to call the shots in a hung parliament then they are even more deluded than I first thought as the tories and labour will form a coalission together before that will happen . The increase in membership is there for one reason and one reason only and that is independence end of story.

  • Ronnie

    I take on board your argument completely Craig, indeed worry that your reading of the situation is right but (there’s always a but!) a re-run of the indyref so soon may not provide the required 60+% that I think we really need. A process of building our national self confidence is required to bring round the large chunk of the electorate that want independence but are basically feart. The more powers we acquire and use positively then that confidence will follow and we very badly need a more mature alternative media to combat the bbc propaganda machine which will take time.

  • Bob Costello

    Ronnie , I don’t think there is any need for a 60% pol to make any result effective , after all he no side won with 55% and they are blowing about this being the settled will of the people now , but I think the important element of Craig’s piece is that without independence being to the fore of the westminster campaign it deprives the SNP of future options should their dream of home rule become a nightmare . In other words they are effectively Shackling themselves for plan B , now where have I heard that before ?

  • nevermind

    We written Craig, but the Lib dems might not get re elected as their youth factor has totally collapsed sue to the student fees and increasing control over campuses free speech. You might have to revise the next coalition as Tory/Ukip, or Labour SNP

    I hope I’m wrong

    re: fair coverage. The SNP might gets its own BBC friendly coverage, as long as they do not speak of Independence, I would not be surprised about such pre conditions, thwarting/conditioning all of their new supportive members. A radical Independence Alliance might not attract much media attention, but many of the 80.000 new members might want to give them their vote rather than a complacent SNP.

    Its called the ‘you don’t have to vote for a party you are a member of’ factor.

    Have you been talked out of it yet?….;)

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)


    Thank you for starting a new thread – even if it is about Scotland/the SNP again.

    The previous thread was losing steam after about the 500 mark with a decrease in people’s inventiveness and through the swift and decisive action of people like Kempe, Anon, Resident Dissident and myself in clearing away the false flag and conspiracy theory turdlets as soon as they were dropped.

    Can we please have more posts on internal UK matters in the run up to the election?

  • Puzzled

    It is well known there is a paid army of shills foisting a zionist narrative on the social media, even to the extent of “editing” wikipedia. So why would CM think his blog read by ?????s would not have attracted their attention. I am not saying habba is kept by zio funding like Charlie, but I have my doubts.

  • nevermind

    Can we please have more posts on internal UK matters in the run up to the election?

    So where is your very own blog?
    were you can write and speak, gosh what an idea, a video of yourself, full of domestic wishful thinking?

    Who are you to demand more writing on the internally adjusted half truth before the elections?

    Oh yes, as you said yourself, the turd collector general.

  • Gillian

    I agree it is a mistake to not have independence in their mainfesto as without this there will be no chance of obtaining it in near future. I dont believe the SNP are wanting independence, the 80,000 new members who joined hoping that the SNP will bring independence are going to be sadly disappointed in my opinion. I think the SNP are concentrating on getting more powers, gaining more mps to send to westminster and independence does not figure in their plans .

  • Kempe

    ” we know from the Referendum is that a significant number of SNP voters, voted No. The truth is that not every supporter of the SNP is a fervent supporter of Independence. ”

    ” It is tactically essential that, in this scenario, the SNP MP’s can claim to have been elected on a clear mandate for Independence. ”


  • fred

    $50 a barrel. Not the $113 the muppets at Holyrood assured us was a Conservative estimate of oil prices between 2013 and 2018.

    £444 million, that is how much Scotland had left over thanks to the good old Barnett formula, Scotland received £444 million more than we need, that is how much the government underspent by last year.

    Campaign to swap the Barnett formula for oil revenues? £444 million too much for £18 billion too little? Who would be stupid enough to vote for them if they did that?

  • Ruth

    Of course it’s not an accident. I believe leaders of all parties are hand in hand with the Establishment including Salmond. They appear to be on the side of the people but that’s all it is, appearance. It amazes me with the knowledge that exit polls weren’t going to be carried out by BBC etc as they usually are Salmond didn’t organise them himself. With the government being so desperate to preserve the Union vote fraud was more than possible. Exit poll results would’ve revealed the true position. I have little doubt that the referendum was fixed.

  • CanSpeccy

    The previous thread was losing steam after about the 500 mark with a decrease in people’s inventiveness and through the swift and decisive action of people like Kempe, Anon, Resident Dissident and myself in clearing away the false flag and conspiracy theory turdlets as soon as they were dropped.

    That pretty well characterizes this blog’s function doesn’t it. No mainstream media story too ridiculous to defend.

    Thing is, though, what’s the point of the blog when we have the mainstream media? I mean apart from Craig’s endless self promotion.

  • Tony M

    Ruth a minoir quibble: Alex Salmond isn’t a party leader.

    Exit polls? Had never even entered my ken until the clamour after the referendum, they still have no significance, aren’t they just something for the media to witter about as the actual results are awaited, are you supposing the ‘exit poll’ – conducted by some corporate market research outfit, with bored unproductive, otherwise useless but almost presentable sorts, asking people stupid questions like ‘Do you prefer Product A or Product B’ or the equally irrelevant ‘Who did you vote for’, for many, including me, they’d get an untrue answer or more likely rudely ignored, these are intrusive and go against the whole ‘secret’ ballot pretence, as much after voting than before. But back the supposing, do you see these sort of thing as some sort of check, some assurance of fair play in the actual election, if these are so reliable why not just dispense with the election all together, have an exit-poll now and again, to ‘choose’ who is to govern. Our survey says: X. I regard these exit-polls as no more than worthless froth, gimmickry, the importance you touchingly, naively attach is not warranted.

    New SNP slogan, not “Death or Slavery”, but “Slavery then Death”.

  • Clark

    Fred, it’s all about money to you, eh? Why? It’s not like you actually get much of it yourself.

    Just think what it is that you’re helping to prop up. You’ve campaigned for the Palestinian cause yourself for years and years, been thrown off forums for stating the truth, but here you are propping up the very Westminster system that unconditionally supports Israel. And that’s just one example. War after war after war.

    So all your campaigning has been bunk. Oh, you’ll do lip-service to opposing immoral UK foreign policy, but fold when there’s a real chance of doing anything about it because – why? I don’t even see that the money you always go on about would make any difference to you or the area you live. Grief, the situation’s bad enough as it is, what the Hell are you protecting it for?

  • thomaspotter2014

    Craig I think you’ll just need to get over the unsuccessful SNP selection farce and now attempting to slag off the SNP initiatives loOks awfully adolescent.
    To my mind going in with all guns bazing ‘we want Independence or else ‘would be folly

  • Clark

    Fred, I know you hate the SNP. I told you eighteen months ago, the only thing that’ll weaken them is Independence. You keep predicting falling oil prices. Well my prediction was confirmed in the negative – the No vote has multiplied SNP membership by four. I wonder if your oil price prediction still holds in eighteen months, eh? Somehow I doubt it.

  • Hector

    Whitehall and Westminster will never agree to hand over to Scotland its full oil or whisky revenues.

    What, do you really think duty on whisky sold in England should be handed over to the Scottish government? What about whisky sold in Japan?

    Should the UK vote to leave the EU …the demand for Scottish Independence may become overwhelming.

    But it mat be even more impractical. As one of the reasons for demanding withdrawal from the EU is hostility to EU immigrants and EU policies then a Scotland outside the UK but in the EU may suffer extreme consequences as a side-effect of the quarrel between the two. Scotland would probably also lose the privileges that the UK extracted from the EU. At the least, a transition period will be essential. What is more, Scotland would have no choice but to join the Euro and the examples of Greece and Italy make it much less likely that the conditions of entry could be fudged then.

    It’s possible that many of the new members of the SNP aren’t idealistic seekers of the Glorious Uplands of Independence you dream of but people who favour the Union for financial reasons and regard the SNP as the party which can get the moat for Scotland from the rest of the UK.

  • craig Post author


    You are very entitled to that view. My view is different – and indeed putting that different view to the members was something I did in the hustings at Falkirk. I have not formulated that view since being blocked by the vetting panel as a Party candidate. The members in consequence did not get to vote.

    What I am trying to do now is have a debate within the Party as to whether the policy of putting Independence on the back-burner is the right one. You believe that it is. I know many party members who believe it is not. Cearly there are different opinions. That is why we need a debate.

    It is you who are immature in trivialising the issues into irrelevant personal areas. Immature and nasty.

  • Mary

    Sorry above should be on the previous thread.

    I see the Resident Invigilator with the inflated ego speaks on behalf of his little group. He is deluded. Creeping round Craig too.

  • craig Post author


    Having met a great many new members when I was campaigning in Falkirk and throughout Scotland at the many meetings and rallies I have addressed since the Referendum, I can honestly say I have not encountered a single new member who joined because they wanted Devo-Max and not Independence. That is not to say there are none, but I have certainly not come across them.

  • fred

    “Fred, I know you hate the SNP.”

    I just tell it how it is. If that isn’t how you want it to be that’s your problem.

    The fact you can’t face reality without ascribing it to some perceived hatred in me also says a lot about you.

  • Republicofscotland

    Yes Craig as you say it all depends on a hung parliament, and, the SNP gaining enough MP’s to boot. Then to add to this, is the hope of forming a coalition government with anyone but the Tories.

    It does seem like a bit of a long shot, and if the SNP could get into a coalition (A big ask) that somehow they could help veto, or approve policies, of other parties, and try and change things from the inside out.

    If of course it all falls to pieces, and Labour or the Tories win and continue with their austerity drive, that too could look favourable for the SNP,as they could then return to pushing for devo max (It won’t happen).

    No devo max combined with a long austerity push, could swing Scotland towards another independence referendum, add to that the fear applied through an in out EU referendum, and independence is a very realistic possibility.

  • Iam Scott

    I agree, I want Independence not devomax.

    However, support for devomax is higher than support for independence.

    I think there is a tactical game going on here.

    Push for devomax, and when it becomes obvious to supporters of devomax that Westminster will never deliver it, then the only alternative becomes independence and at that point we have the numbers to win a second referendum.

  • nevermind

    “It’s possible that many of the new members of the SNP aren’t idealistic seekers of the Glorious Uplands of Independence you dream of”

    Welcome to the blog Thomas Potter and Hector, you two getting ready for Westminster and a coalition with Labour? the lucrative lobbying, expenses,etc.etc.?

    Is it possible that the SNP, supported by only one newspaper, their very best effort, were never for Independence at all, because, exactly as Clark pointed out, it would mean that Scotland would become orientated according to its regions and power structures/struggles within, denying them overall control?
    Their effort was paltry and half hearted and it was down to the yes activists on the ground working their butts off, not the plotters in the top echelon.

    That the SNP wants overall control is undeniable, why else do they clamp down on anything that could sour the Unionist vote they hope to gain, whether they actually need it or not?

    Why else do they go round briefing unionist newspapers behind SNP members backs?

  • Republicofscotland

    Today’s GERS report demonstrates that Scotland is a wealthy nation – but it also highlights that people in Scotland are also paying the price for Westminster’s incompetence. Last year the Union cost Scotland £9.4 billion in services Scotland had no control over.

    Last year Scotland provided £800 more in tax per person that the UK average. This means Scotland would have been £8.3 billion better off as an independent country over the past 5 years. We could have spent that money investing in our economy with the same debt levels as the rest of the UK or saved it and had £8.3 billion less debt.

    Scotland generated £800 more in tax per person than the UK as a whole in 2012-13. Scotland has generated more tax per head than the UK every year for the past 33 years.

    Over the past 5 years Scotland had lower deficits than the UK. Scotland’s average deficit has been 7.2%, while the UK deficit has been 8.4%. Scotland only spends 42.7% of Scotland’s GDP on public spending. The UK spends 45.4%. (also over the past 5 years) This demonstrates that Scotland’s public finances are in a stronger position than the UK as a whole.

    A wee comment for the person in here who has oil on the brain, and thinks Scotland will sink without high oil prices.

    Incidentally Scotland wouldn’t have received the revenue for oil, until 2016 the date of independence, who actually believes oil will be still such a low price per barrel then.

    Finally for the same bore who keeps posting oil prices, in 1999 oil fell to $10 a barrel and the oil industry didn’t die out or collapse.

  • Jemand

    Herr Nevermind — “So where is your very own blog? were [sic,sic] you can write and speak, gosh what an idea, a video of yourself, full of domestic wishful thinking?”

    And what about your blog? As an aspiring politician who wants to earn people’s respect and trust – where is your own blog in your real name?

  • Republicofscotland

    This week the broadcasting regulator Ofcom issued an initial judgement which asserted that the SNP – the party of government in Scotland, with six MPs currently at Westminster and a large lead in current opinion polls – should not be represented in any televised leader debates.

    The organisation also suggested that UKIP, which currently has two MPs, “may” be considered a “major party” and therefore merit inclusion, but that the Greens, with one MP, wouldn’t.

  • fred

    Scottish government revenue and spending estimates showed that in 2012-13, overall government spending in Scotland reached £65bn, while the onshore economy – excluding North Sea revenues – raised £47.6bn in tax, £17.4bn less than was spent.

    North Sea taxes raised £5.5bn that year, with the rest supplemented by UK taxation and borrowing but with Brent crude as low as $50 a barrel, this year’s oil revenues will be a fraction of that sum.

    You may notice that I don’t need to insert personal insults or name calling because the facts, reality, is on my side.

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