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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  • Clark

    46p a litre is so cheap for something that needs to be extracted from miles underground, refined, and transported at least hundreds of miles despite being dangerously flammable and toxic. You can’t get orange juice at that price, and that really does grow on trees. You have trouble getting cheaper bottled water.

  • Calgacus

    What has Westminster done for those north of the Great Glen? Genuine question Clark. I was aware of European aid for road construction but I can’t think of anything London has done for the north

  • Mark Golding

    12 Jan, 2015 – 11:32 am

    Looking forward not back reminds us of the Obama euphemism, ‘look forwards instead of backwards’ -a pretense that claimed we should forget the US ‘torture(d) some folks’ and adopt a construct that covers his administration for shielding the officials responsible from prosecution. Bollocks! – the post-9/11 torture program was/is “breathtaking in scope”, and indicts both the Bush and Obama administrations for complicity in it – the former through design and implementation, and the latter through its ongoing attempts to obstruct justice.

    I am describing the bottom line, the core of our human existence, that allows serious iniquity to perpetuate., year on year, decade on decade.

    A classic example acknowledged by even the most obtuse amongst us and blinked at by elected leaders, is Operation Gladio, with just three countries, Italy, Belgium and Switzerland having carried out parliamentary investigations. The deep state control and entanglement through the connection with national intelligence services, in particular, with false flag terrorist attacks is particularly disquieting and for me extremely annoying and sorry, grossly fucked-up.

    I learned many years ago MI6 and members of the SAS/SBS trained foreign ‘terrorists’ at Fort Monckton near Stokes Bay, Gosport. Two former Royal Marine officers both admitted to having spent time there and their testimony is well known.

    The training program has developed according to Sibel Edmonds and I intend to expose the training and arming of radical Muslims to carry out terrorist attacks regardless of threats:

  • fred

    “Fred, Your either a liar or highly deluded.”

    When you are capable of rational debate without personal insults I’ll talk to you.

    If it’s a slanging match you want then fuck off and die retard.

  • fred

    “Fred, I think I see why you’re getting such animosity. Falling oil prices are bad for everyone, but you seem to be gloating about it.”

    I just state the facts because the Nationalists are ignoring them.

    Now I repeat, if you can’t debate the facts without calling me names then just fuck off, OK?.

  • Jonathan

    Craig, I followed your involvement in the referendum and felt you did a very good job at convincing many people to vote yes. Later I was pleased to see you interested in becoming an SNP candidate, but felt immediately that you would not fit within the party lines; quite simply, you’re too outspoken.

    I honestly believe your posts on this blog simply made the SNP’s decision inevitable.

    As you posted on 14 Oct:
    “I have no idea how to reach out to No voters because I find the majority of them stupid beyond my understanding. This is not because they desired an end result different to that I desired. That is a perfectly legitimate choice. It is because, by voting No, they are going to get an end result which is not what they wanted at all, and that was very obvious. Asking me to reach out to these unbelievably thick people is like asking me to go for a drive with someone who, against my advice, drove the wrong way down a motorway, causing a lot of people to get hurt as a result.”

    Now that is already going too far, just because the No vote was the wrong vote does not make them stupid. But then a couple of paragraphs later you added:

    “But those No voters who voted No because they believed a fair and caring society was achievable within the present structures of the UK, are so stupid I am astonished that their cerebral cortex can transmit a signal that sparks respiration. They are probably not capable of ever noticing their error.
    I am not going to reach out to you, No voter. You are either evil, or quite extraordinarily thick. You will forever be a long way beneath my notice.”

    Craig, you’ve done a lot of good work, but the attitude you show here is downright despicable; the SNP could not have you as a candidate. What a field day the press would have: “SNP fields candidate who considers No voters incomprehensibly thick, evil and beneath his notice”!!!

  • fred

    “Is Fred a Labour supporter?”

    It doesn’t matter what I am.

    What matters is oil is $48 a barrel and falling.

    I call the Nationalists Nazis because they behave like Nazis, here, on this blog, every time they try to stop the truth being told by harassment and intimidation they are behaving like Nazis.

    The people of Scotland voted against Independence, with oil below $50 a barrel an independent Scotland would not be economically viable. Those are facts as which party I vote for.

  • Tony M

    I never felt the SNP positions on many issues in the referendum campaign were strong enough
    other than the firm commitment that Trident must go. Monarchy, NATO, Currency, were all compromises to effect independence with the least initial change. It back-fired, the same people smirking now over the largely irrelevant oil price, criticised that softly-softly don’t scare the horses approach, whilst pretending to be be otherwise pro-independence, but for the fact, they said, it was no independence at all, representing insufficient change

    I felt that what was on offer was too tame but, that was no reason not to support what was offered, and to vote Yes nevertheless, knowing full well that once independent all these issues could be looked at again, our respective parties could take up their positions, the reformed former unionist parties formulate their own, not we hope still under London HQ control, a debate could be had, and the people via referenda indicate their will on these issues.

    A Scottish pound, debt-free, that is backed by the Scottish Government, lending into the economy interest free for state-backed and infrastructure projects, at low interest for investment, particularly private industrial investment, and to individuals for homes, cars etc. instead of handouts and enticements to big corporations, with no foreign borrowing, was a viable alternative. Private lending limited strictly to a low percentage, maybe 20-30% of existing ‘money’, unlike the UK’s 99%+.

    There is no reason right now that Scottish government cannot set up such a shadow currency, allow it to become established, even go for trial public circulation, equivalent in value and exchangeable for pounds sterling, ready one day to stand on its own.

    The gradualist approach left the barn door wide open for the unionists to play the fear card, “we’re keeping the pound”, “can’t keep the pound” and all the other poisonous rubbish, when really we didn’t care, it was in rUK interest and still is, that when independent we ‘keep’ the horrid pound for as long as possible, it can only be therefore in our interest that we keep it not a moment longer than necessary, before seamlessly and successfully launching our own Scots’ Pound.

    In other news, and this is really important, the price of mincemeat pies has dropped again!, In some places it’s eighty-nine pence, that’s 0.86 pounds (sterling) for 6 mince pies (Mr Kipling crude), it’s another ‘blow for Salmond, I mean Sturgeon’.

  • fred

    “Fred ,you are a liar and highly deluded,and I shall add foul mouthed.”

    Fuck off and die retard cunt.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Baal-Komodo replies to Fred:

    “It would be borrowed or printed to order, just like all the other money coming from Westminster.”

    That’s what Fred said, Baal – check his post at 09h37 (second para).

    However, of the three elements mentioned by Fred: “Scotland would have had no credit rating, no currency of their own and no central bank”, only the last one is really relevant.

    Its credit rating and currency would be the same as that of rUK because of the third and last element (the Scottish “central bank” would be the BoE).


    More generally, I hope that fair-minded and objective readers will have noticed the torrent of abuse to which Fred is subjected every time he comments. That, however, is the fate of anyone who dares steps outside the comfortable “consensus” which the Original Trolls endeavour to enforce in this blog.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    I just state the single selected fact repeatedly because it’s all I’ve got, really.


    Roll on the next ebb.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)


    Feel free to add me to the foul-mouth brigade.

    You are a cunt – of the worst sort: the drop-in cunt.

    Hope you’re happy now. 🙂

  • fred

    “Either Scotland has a viable economy or it does not.

    If, as you claim, it does not, then what does that say for Westminster’s stewardship of a resource-rich, educated nation noted for entrepreneurship and world renowned inventors?”

    It says nothing at all about them, it just illustrates the Nationalist policy of blaming Westminster for everything.

    You know other countries think they are noted for entrepreneurship and inventors as well. A lot of the things Scotland thinks they invented other countries think they invented plus they have lists of things invented by them too, all countries have had clever and skilful people not just Scotland. Nationalist supremacism is not a healthy thing.

  • @homeneara*

    “More generally, I hope that fair-minded and objective readers will have noticed the torrent of abuse to which Fred is subjected”

    Subjected? He is the most abusive person on this blog, By far. It does not shock me you can’t see that.

  • fred

    “Subjected? He is the most abusive person on this blog, By far. It does not shock me you can’t see that.”

    Nothing would make me happier than to be able to post information and opinions without being subjected to personal abuse from the Nationalist posters.

    But if they are not capable of that then yes, I will be the most abusive person on this blog.

    It’s up to you, civilised debate or flame war, I don’t do in between.

  • Mats

    Habbabkuk, Just that I dont get paid like you to comment all day on your employers agenda does not mean I am not a regular visitor.
    Fred’s posts refelect a disturbed mind and a skewed reality.Wings over Scotland would have a field day with his version of Scotland including his fixation with oil.

  • Clark

    Calgacus, 1:58 pm:

    “What has Westminster done for those north of the Great Glen?”

    I don’t know the economic facts. I was just reporting what people in Caithness said to me. Holyrood and the Yes campaign need to work on the matter, whether it be fact or just an impression.

    – – –
    fred; 2:21 pm:

    “if you can’t debate the facts without calling me names then just fuck off, OK?”

    Fred, note the phrase “seem to be”. I’m not calling you names; I’m pointing out how your constant oil price updates might appear from outside your own view.

    Fred, I’ve been civil to you throughout, but you see it as name-calling. Others are less patient. That doesn’t make them, or you for that matter, Nazis.

    – – –
    Habbabkuk, if someone appears to you to be a “troll”, then best not feed them, eh? Otherwise, you’re part of the problem rather than the solution. It’s an age-old law of Netiquette and I’ll be making my judgement of you on this.

  • fred

    “Hey Fred I bet your Anglo-Zionist pals in bitter together got a wee heads up about the coming manipulation in oil prices and that’s why the lot of you have been spinning like Catherine wheels on the subject.”


    ” I apologise for flying off the handle but I do object to being called a Nazi. Nothing personal Fred.”


    If you don’t want to be called a Nazi then don’t call me Anglo-Zionist.

    It isn’t rocket science, don’t call me names and I won’t call you names.

  • Clark

    Fred, I still want to know why you thought oil was overpriced, what you think its “natural” price may be, and when you think it might start going up again, and how far.

    This isn’t a purely theoretical question. The timing of when I fill my central heating tank can make a couple of hundred pounds difference.

    And Fred, I bear you no ill-will. I was mad at you for a personal reason; I still think your assessment of me was wrong, but that’s in the past.

    – – –
    I have to go for a while now.

  • fred

    “This isn’t a purely theoretical question. The timing of when I fill my central heating tank can make a couple of hundred pounds difference.”

    Who knows, there was an economist on the radio saying when somebody asked him last year what oil prices would be he replied “anything between $60 and $160 thinking he had covered all the bases.

    Working on the support and resistance level principal prices will fall to around $40 but they tend to be more accurate with stocks and shares than commodities.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)


    “Habbabkuk, Just that I dont get paid like you to comment all day on your employers agenda does not mean I am not a regular visitor.
    Fred’s posts refelect a disturbed mind and a skewed reality.Wings over Scotland would have a field day with his version of Scotland including his fixation with oil.”

    Actually, Mats, if you look carefully you’ll see that I don’t post all day – that pleasure is reserved for a number of others; I call them the Original Trolls.

    You may be a regular reader but you do not post regularly.

    So there’s two lies already. 🙂

    Re Fred : Fred’s reality is a lot less skewed than that of many others on here. I see him focussing on facts which he patiently and persistently brings to the attention of the – let’s say – loopier contributors. Of course, his refusal to be browbeaten incurs the wrath and abuse of many, but that is to his credit.

    As for fixations, well, if you want a discussion about fixations you should exchange views with Mr Goss (Ukraine and airplane accidents), Baal-Komodo (Mr Blair), Mary (Jewish friends and relations, OUR NHS), Nevermind (nevermind what his fixation is, it’s difficult to tell) and so on.

    So there are two misleading comments from you.

    You are the weakest link, Mats. Back to training school, eh?

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)


    “Habbabkuk, if someone appears to you to be a “troll”, then best not feed them, eh?”

    Oh, I don’t know, Clark.

    I’m a generous person and don’t mind throwing them crumbs from time to time.

    Always accompanied by some correction, of course because I very much believe in the value of adult education even for the recalcitrant.

    Last but not least, you’ll have noted I reserve most of my crumbs for the Original Trolls – these are the handful of people whose off-the-wall views serve to bring this blog and (by association its owner) into disrepute.

    Hope that clarifies. God bless.

  • Tony M

    Finite resource, infinite demand, the medium and longer term trend is up, inexorably. Anyone working on any presumption other than that is self-deludingly in the wrong. What relevance though does it have to Scotland’s people’s absolute right to self-determination and to run the country we live in, for its people’s mutual advantage, and not under some cronyist and nepotistic banking elites family control and for their gross enrichment.

    Parroting mainstream media pundits’ sophistry, to sell the status-quo as anything other than the daylight-robbery it really is, understandably doesn’t go down well, it’s not just complacency, it’s resignation. Think outside the box, or soon be living in one.

  • nevermind

    Just a lesson tom all those who use the term Nazi, because they can

    Nazi is short for NSDAP, the National Sozialistiche Deutsche Arbeiter Partei. The national socialist workers party of Germany.

    I do not think that there is anything socialist about the SNP, otherwise it would be the SSNP.

    I hope that this slowly sinks into the space between the ears.

  • Velvetdonkey

    I asked……” then what does that say for Westminster’s stewardship of a resource-rich, educated nation noted for entrepreneurship and world renowned inventors?”

    Fred replied…..”It says nothing at all about them, it just illustrates the Nationalist policy of blaming Westminster for everything”.

    It says nothing that Scotland has, according to you, to rely on London’s charity to survive – whereas Denmark is able to survive without London’s (or any other) charity.

    Having lived and worked in both, I can confirm that Denmark and Scotland are not so different.

    One obvious difference, though, is that Scotland has coughed up £300billion in oil tax receipts to another parliament.

    Do you think there might be a connection between Scotland needing charity and Denmark not?

    Obviously you’re happy that things continue that way – that your children and grandchildren live on handouts.

    I wonder why the Danes don’t appeal to the Westminster establishment to look after them?

    What is it about existing on London’s charity that you find so attractive, yet the Danes would find so unappealing?

    Is it cos they’re nasty unprincipled nationalists?

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