The Victory Paradox 304

Just as the SNP sweeps to utter domination of the Scottish presence at Westminster, the future of Scottish nationalism must move to a rejection of Westminster rule as illegitimate. That is the victory paradox.

There is no doubt that this is the best possible election result for achieving Scottish independence in the near term. The one thing that I believe might have postponed independence for decades, was a Labour Party government of the UK with SNP support, governing as Tory Lite but making the dreadful repressive UK state that little bit less openly vicious, the abuse a little bit more disguised, the wealthy corporate elite less openly triumphalist.

I know that Tory rule is going to be dreadful for many decent people who are struggling to make ends meet, that the heartlessness of benefits sanctions will cause despair and suicide, that asylum seekers will be detained and abused. But Scotland has absolutely rejected the entire Tory system, and the scene is now set for the kind of extra-parliamentary resistance that we saw to Thatcher’s poll tax. We have to refuse to let Westminster do this to people. In this circumstance, those SNP MPs are relevant insofar as they use their platform to help build the popular resistance, not in terms of anything they do in that appalling haw-haw club.

Labour would have lost and we would have a Tory government even if Labour had won every seat in Scotland. Labour’s abject failure was in no sense caused by the SNP, whatever the appalling journalists of BBC Scotland may say or imply. And Labour is now going to underline, still more than the Tories, the urgent need for Scotland to be independent. The airwaves are already buzzing with London comment that Labour’s problem was that it was not right wing enough for English opinion. The next Labour leader must be more Blairite, they say. Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper or Chuka Umunna are touted to fit the bill, they suggest. This is completely a false analysis. If England were given a chance to vote for an SNP style, more left wing, offering then very many of the English would vote for it. But it will not happen. Labour will lurch ever further to the right and it will become undeniable that the Scottish people can only express their political aspirations through independence.

Even the best people are still human, and I have to confess that I am absolutely delighted that the SNP leadership have been neatly removed by this election result from any temptation. Exercising power within the United Kingdom state can be heady and addictive. An insidious agenda was quite blatantly propagated by Alex Bell in Bella Caledonia, a man who has been very close to the party leadership, and who actually celebrated the idea that:

The fascinating story of this election is how the SNP is ‘Britishing’ itself, gently playing down the big constitutional stuff in favour of real power over the austerity agenda.

Mr Bell goes on to make the ludicrous proposition that to support the creation of a small state is in itself a conservative agenda. He is profoundly wrong. To dismantle an aggressive imperialist state is not a remotely conservative agenda. I have frequently expressed the fear that there is a careerist core in the SNP who are more concerned with troughing in the political class and being big-wigs in the UK than with achieving independence. Bell’s insidious unionism – very lightly disguised as support for “utilitarian nationalism” – had the potential to be much more corrosive to the cause of independence than anything which the Tories can do. Fortunately Bell’s thesis is totally stuffed by the election result, and his pseudo-intellectual rationalisations of the status quo can now be safely confined to the dustbin of irrelevance. The SNP has no “real power over the austerity agenda” and has zero chance of gaining any within the United Kingdom.

There is now no course to take but root and branch opposition to the consequences of a Tory rule which Scotland has just declared anathema. The only way forward is now independence and the only route is through a mounting extra-parliamentary opposition over the next few years. I am absolutely delighted for all those SNP MPs, of whom a large number are personal friends. But if you want to remain relevant, you have to forget about Angus Robertson telling you what suits to wear or how to put an approved knot in your tie (yes, that really happened), and you have to inspire the street in the way so many of you did during the referendum campaign.

304 thoughts on “The Victory Paradox

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  • Anon1

    “Agree on HS2 – waste of money – no-one should pay for it.”

    Oh but they will. The English will be paying for a link to Scotland to placate the permanently aggrieved little scotlanders. What Craig neglects to tell you is that it is also an EU project.


    How do you balance your support for 100% fiscal responsibility with your 100% support for the EU, presumably including full fiscal union?

  • fred

    “Regardless of who we vote for in Scotland, it is what the majority in England vote for, that we get. It is only a coincidence if we vote for the same Party.”

    As who any region of the UK votes for it’s what the rest vote for that we get.

    Yorkshire has roughly the same population as Scotland, so does the South West but Scotland has more MPs per capita than either and still they are whinging. There are 56 SNP MPs in Westminster that nobody in Yorkshire or the South West voted for. All the socialist areas of Britain have a Conservative government they didn’t vote for, that’s called democracy.

    Usually Scotland does quite well, after 2010 they had 12 MPs from Scottish constituencies in the Government, 2005 41, this time they didn’t do so good.

  • haemoglobin

    Hi Craig

    My SNP-supporting friends are highly excited at the moment, largely at the thumping Scottish Labour took at the ballot box. I myself find this disturbing, not because I have any sympathy for Labour, but because I fear this euphoria is more due to tribalism than because it represents anything positive for Scotland. It seems to be in no small part about revenge for the referendum. Desire for revenge muddies the water and clouds judgement in my opinion. I’d tell them to save the celebrations for when a progressive difference is actually made, but they don’t listen to me even when they aren’t jumping up and down and punching the air.

    How odd that you don’t identify a small state with conservativism, given the right-wing desire to cut welfare and privatise pretty much everything. Indeed, those of s strong right-wing predilection would like to see a state that did little at all other than enforce property rights and basic law and order (along with perhaps the ability to facilitate military excursions abroad), with everything else left to individuals/markets.

  • Jon

    Richard, it sounds like you want to blame the SNP for the way English voters have voted. If the English voted for the Tories, I think they should take responsibility for that. I wasn’t too keen on Miliband, but I don’t think that’s a satisfying excuse either, personally. If a person votes for a party that appeals to selfish individualism and xenophobia, and the policy consequences turn out to be selfish and xenophobic*, “SNP/Labour made me do it” is not going to cut the mustard.

    * A bold prediction, I know.

    Jimmy, very good: feminist “nazis” less democratic than Hitler. Carry on! You’re like a Private Eye delivered free of charge.

    Briar, I’m sorry to hear you believe that the SNP are rejoicing in the unhappy circumstances of a Tory majority. I don’t see it myself, and will condemn it if I see it. In any case, would it not be rather unwise for a SNP politician or supporter to be thrilled at a Tory government in London? They have to live under it too.

  • Mary

    Tory leaders

    I have just heard David Mellor say on LBC:

    John Major was loved but not feared

    Margaret Thatcher was both loved and feared depending on one’s POV

    David Cameron is neither loved nor feared

  • Phil

    “Charles Kennedy lost his seat to former investment banker, Ian Blackford, of the SNP.”

    A breakdown of previous occupations of all the new SNP MPs might be interesting.

  • fwl

    Why should there be a future for nationalism? Nationalism is a con. It is the con which replaced religion after the invention of the printing press. Schlomo’s Sand’s introduction in The Invention of the Land of Israel explains this very clearly. I find it surprising that so many posters on this blog should so strongly oppose Israeli nationalism yet be so supportive of Scottish nationalism.

    Idealism is not everything, there is a lot to be said for pragmatism, but ultimately ideas should come first.

    Nationalism though is not a good idea.

    There were strong ideas coming out of Britain and in particular out of Wales in the eighteenth century. There was Richard Price’s 1776 Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty and his support for the American and French revolutions.There was David Wiiliams who gave refuge to Benjamin Franklin and who wrote Letters on Political Liberty in 1782 and who was offered French citizenship to take a seat in the Convention of 1792. There was the one-legged Gouvernor Morris, who wrote the final draft of the American Constitution and John Marshall the father of the American constitutional law. Humans need ideas and ideas should inspire. Nationalism is not such an idea and it is a dangerous one to play with. At the end of the BBC 1992 documentary on Gladio there is a sad explanation about puppets and masters. Nationalism is a way of puling the strings. I accept that sense of belonging and religion both have their place, but ultimately it is for each of us to find or work out the ideas which inspire.

    Nationalism is a good idea if you are the one pulling the strings.

    Who benefits from a divided UK?

  • fedup

    Whilst the narrative is; a nation has cast its verdict, and the right is the only right!

    A dead man has pooled more than a live and kicking LD candidate.

    Dead man polls higher than Lib Dem candidate

    The fact that LD were a viable option, prompted the end of Charles Kennedy. He was an alcoholic, and a teetotal nation of Presbyterian zealots could not tolerate such aberrations. Fact that bipolar manic depressive alcoholic whose most famous speech was read out by an actor pulling out his gnashers to fight them on the beeches, somehow was forgotten in the mists of the history.

    the choice between tweedledum

  • Mary

    The British Academy is presided over by Lord Stern, ex World Bank and Gordon Brown’s Treasury!

    ‘Stern is the son of the late Bert Stern and Marion Stern and nephew of Donald Swann—half of the Flanders and Swann partnership. Richard Stern, former Vice-President, World Bank, and Brian E Stern, former Vice-President Xerox Corporation, are his brothers, and his sister is Naomi Opalinska. He was the Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President of the World Bank from 2000 to 2003, and was recently a civil servant and government economic advisor in the United Kingdom. In June 2007, Stern became the first holder of the I. G. Patel Chair at the London School of Economics.[2] In 2008, he was also appointed Chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, a major new research centre also at LSE. He is Chair of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at Leeds University and LSE.’,_Baron_Stern_of_Brentford

    Delingpole calls him a climate change alarmist.

  • Lance Vance


    I only said it was ironic, nothing more.

    But for what it worth I believe that a Tory majority was the SNP strategy all along. A Tory govt and all the potential horrors that be will foist upon the less fortunate among us, is obviously a price that the SNP machine considers worth paying. They could never come out and openly say this of course, but it has more than a ring of truth to it.

    Independence is all but assured- but I think the SNP has been rather disingenuous during this wretched election campaign.

  • Mary

    Anon1 earlier. No need for me to check. It’s all documented and there’s even boasting.
    Special report: Team Cameron’s big Jewish backers
    Bernard Josephs and Leon Symons

    Prominent members of the Jewish community are playing a major role in financing David Cameron’s bid for power, a JC investigation can reveal.

    The biggest Jewish donor to the party while Mr Cameron has been leader is gaming magnate Lord Steinberg, who has donated £530,000, plus a loan of £250,000. Hedge-fund owner Stanley Fink has donated £103,000, even though he was a declared supporter of Mr Cameron’s leadership rival, Liam Fox. A further £250,000 has been loaned by philanthropist Dame Vivien Duffield.

    During Mr Cameron’s campaign to lead his party, Jewish figures gave his team (as opposed to the party) additional donations of more than £60,000. According to the JC’s inquiries, direct donations to “Team Cameron” in the leadership battle came from philanthropist Trevor Pears (around £20,000), Bicom chair Poju Zabludowicz (£15,000 plus £25,000 to the party), Next chief executive Simon Wolfson (£10,000 plus £50,000 to the party), former Carlton TV boss Michael Green (£10,000) and Tory deputy treasurer and key Cameron fundraiser Andrew Feldman (£10,000 through his family firm, Jayroma).

    Beyond the donors, a small but influential group of Jewish Conservative officials and politicians were also key players in Mr Cameron’s campaign for the leadership. Among them was party treasurer and managing director of Cavendish Corporate Finance, Howard Leigh, who stressed that Mr Cameron was preparing a new policy on political financing.

    “He is preparing to cap donations at £50,000, combined with some state financing,” Mr Leigh told the JC. “The aim is to prevent people from buying influence. We think a £50,000 cap is reasonable.”

    Mr Leigh worked closely with Mr Feldman in running the so-called “Team Cameron,” and both will now be charged with broadening the party’s donor base. Mr Feldman is a close friend of Mr Cameron, whom he met as an undergraduate at Oxford University.

    Other senior figures around the leader include Oliver Letwin, head of policy. A former shadow Home Secretary and shadow Chancellor, Mr Letwin is, like Mr Cameron, an Old Etonian.

    Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps, who seconded Mr Cameron’s bid to become Tory leader, decided early on that he was the man “of the future.” He backed his campaign, he told the JC, because “I saw that he had great leadership qualities.” As a vice-chairman of the Conservative Party, he said, he would be taking the Cameron message to supporters around the UK.

    Although he is popular with Jewish Tories, Mr Cameron’s criticism of Israel’s actions in Lebanon sparked doubts about his stance — voiced particularly by Tory donor and former party treasurer Lord Kalms.

    However, Conservative Friends of Israel chair Richard Harrington stressed that the leader had given LFI “every possible access” and had met CFI officials several times.

    The Key Players

    Andrew Feldman – Destined to be charged with raising money for the new-look Conservative Party, Andrew Feldman (circled, at the left of the picture), 40, met Mr Cameron (circled, right of picture) at Brasenose College, Oxford. He is a close friend and tennis partner of the leader.

    Said to be a member of the Tories’ so-called Notting Hill set, he lives in West London with his wife and two children. Mr Feldman attended Haberdashers’ Aske’s school, and, after qualifying as a lawyer, entered the family’s ladieswear firm, Jayroma. Having acted as fundraiser for Mr Cameron’s leadership campaign, he is now deputy treasurer of the party and is in Mr Cameron’s economic-policy group.

    Michael Green – Michael Green, former chairman of Carlton Television, gave financial support to David Cameron’s leadership campaign but would not discuss details.

    “I am a big supporter of David Cameron but I want to make it clear that I have not supported the Tory Party. I have supported David Cameron’s quest to become leader,” he said.

    Lord Steinberg – Lord Steinberg — formerly Leonard Steinberg — became a life peer in 2004 and is a major donor to the Conservatives. Raised in Belfast and educated at Royal Belfast Academical Institution, the 70-year-old Baron Steinberg of Belfast was a founder of Stanley Leisure plc, the gaming company, serving as executive chairman from 1957 to 2002 and non-executive chairman since then. He is a former deputy treasurer of the Tory party and is a founder and chairman of his family charitable trust. His political interests are listed in Dod’s, the parliamentary guide, as Northern Ireland, tax and gambling, and Israel.

    Simon Wolfson

    A donor to David Cameron’s leadership campaign and to the Conservative Party, Simon Wolfson, 38, will be continuing a family tradition when he becomes an adviser to Mr Cameron on improving economic competition and wealth creation.

    The son of Lord Wolfson, who was chief of staff to Margaret Thatcher, Mr Wolfson, chief executive of the Next clothing chain, is one of the youngest advisors to be appointed by Mr Cameron.

    Along with MP John Redwood, Mr Wolfson will jointly chair the advisory group that will seek to reduce red tape and improve education and skills in the workplace. It will also examine the country’s transport infrastructure.

    Grant Shapps MP

    As vice-chairman of the Conservative Party and seconder to David Cameron’s campaign, backbencher Grant Shapps will find the next few months extremely busy as he tours the constituencies to persuade Tories of the virtues of the new leadership.

    Speaking to the JC, he acknowledged that there would be doubts in some quarters but he has no doubt that the party has chosen the right man.

    “I persuaded my colleagues at the parliamentary level and I shall now have to do the same thing all over the country,” said the MP for Welwyn Hatfield. “The thing that people will like about David is that he is very optimistic.”

    Jewish Chronicle – Special report: Team Cameron’s big Jewish backers
    Bernard Josephs and Leon Symons

    etc etc

  • Mary

    Sorry Mods. Didn’t realize that was so lengthy. I could not get a link so please delete.

  • fred

    “Independence is all but assured- but I think the SNP has been rather disingenuous during this wretched election campaign.”

    As far as independence is concerned nothing has changed. Yes got 1,617,989 votes in the referendum, SNP got 1,454,436 votes in the election. There was no promise of another referendum in the SNP manifesto and if there was one the results would probably be the same.

    A lot of people were linking the election to independence and voted accordingly, I’m afraid they’ve been had.

  • fwl

    “When in the FCO I was well known for being able to drink literally all night and then produce perfectly coherent and detailed work.” Craig

    “It doesn’t matter if you are left or right..its whether you are a cunt or not.” Tony

    I like both of these posts.

  • Richard

    Hi Jon, Sorry – I don’t “blame” the SNP, but I think a factor was the concern that a Labour minority government would need to pander to the SNP, especially to the large % middle ground voters in England who waver between a choice of centrist Tory or Labour offerings. They freely chose Tories over Labour – no-one made them do-it – but the Labour option came with the “risk” that SNP would have a strong influence which the (majority middle ground) English have clearly rejected as unacceptable. Alex Salmond’s comment (albeit claimed in jest) that he’s “writing the Labour Party’s budget” really was a stupid thing to say – no-wonder the SNP kept him away from the media during the election and left it all to Nicola Sturgeon.

    Also it’s unfair to claim that all Conservative voters operate on the basis of selfish individualism and xenophobia – perhaps it’s because they feel it’s the best choice for the country (UK? England?) as a whole on balance.

    Just to be clear I am one of those “middle ground” English voters. Never wanted Milliband (with SNP factor or not) but SNP factor made me very concerned at a minority Lab govt -i.e, will be dragged further to the left by SNP and forced to increase spending in Scotland (at English taxpayers expense). Oh and to be clear, no I definitely don’t support UKIP.

    I was broadly ok with the coalition. I’m ok with Tory majority govt but slightly concerned that right wing Tory MPs will cause issues due to slim majority (as what happened under John Major).

    BTW – if English voters wanted a more left wing alternative to Labour they certainly had it – the Greens (i.e. a cuddly version of the SWP).

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)

    Having been otherwise engaged I’ve just caught up with the post-election threads and comments.

    No surprises, of course. The air is loud with the squawking of disturbed chickens when the door of the coop has been mistakenly left open and the buzzing of bees whose hive has been unexpectedly kicked over.

    Attempts to deviate (Russia, Jews….) as per usual, eager speculation rife, much puting a brave face on events.

    Delicious! 🙂

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)

    And a belated very big thank you to Lysias for having kept us all up to date, day after day, with the FT’s opinion polls on the likely outcome of the election.

    Very useful indeed.

  • Republicofscotland

    Well Scottish parliamentary questions are going to be very interesting,with David Mundell on one side,and 57 opposition MP’s on the other side.

    Secondly I’m led to believe that the majority of Libdems left at Westminster are actually in the upper house.

  • Jon

    Thanks Richard, interesting thoughts.

    Also it’s unfair to claim that all Conservative voters operate on the basis of selfish individualism and xenophobia

    Yes, I didn’t meant to imply that, and I agree. I know some (likely) Tory voters who will be sheepish next time I see them, and they are not bad people. I expect we’ll tacitly not raise who we each voted for!

    What I meant was that the Tory party’s appeal is to selfishness and xenophobia, and yes, some people having those characteristics will have voted for them on that basis. However, the Tories have other qualities also (e.g. Cameron looks like a moderating influence on the party, he plays the statesmen quite well, etc) and some people will have voted on those considerations instead (and more). My concern is that (to varying degrees) Tory voters broadly know about the nasty side of the party and still vote for it anyway (possibly believing that the alternative would be worse, on any number of measures).

    That’s what I mean about responsibility. If there is a further rise in the reliance on foodbanks, for example, as a result of welfare cuts, then I hope it is well publicised (the figure was someone short of a million last year, I seem to recall). How much fractional blame can be doled out to the individual voter is a hard question, of course! But I do think it is worth pondering over.

    if English voters wanted a more left wing alternative to Labour they certainly had it – the Greens

    Yes, true – though with corporate control of the media and FPTP tying people up in strategic voting, I think widespread free choice is hard to come by. I was rather hoping for an extra seat for the Greens this time around, despite it all.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)

    “If England were given a chance to vote for an SNP style, more left wing, offering then very many of the English would vote for it.


    Could we test that view, please?

    I believe that Left Unity candidates stood in a number of seats.

    Can anyone tell me how they got on ( votes received, etc )?

  • Anon1


    I’m sorry but you’re going to struggle trying to paint the Tories as a party of ‘xenophobia’ considering they admitted entry to 620,000 migrants last year.

    Also re “selfish individualism”, it is a tactic of the left to try and smear their opponents with the most base of motives. Certainly if you are a low paid working person then you want low taxes, a small state and the opportunity to improve your situation. You’re not going to vote for the benefits party unless you are either dependent on it or highly privileged, as I suspect you are. That’s where Labour fucked up.

    Frankly I wasn’t missing the absense of your sanctimonious drivel.

  • Republicofscotland

    I was reflecting on Ian Davidson’s (Labour) comment after the Scottish referendum in which gleefully boasted after a unionist victory,that all that was left was to bayonet the wounded.

    I wonder now after losing his Glasgow South West seat if Mr Davidson still recommends bayoneting the wounded.

    Also after 32 years of Charles Kennedy as a Libdem MP for Ross,Skye and Lochaber Mr Kennedy bowed out with a reference to the “The Night if the Long Knives.”

    When the Nazi’s murdered many of their political opponents.

    Mr Kennedy masked this smear on the SNP by referring to it as “The Night of the Long Sgian Dubhs

    A shocking and insulting smear on a democratically elected party.

  • Jon

    One further thought:

    minority Lab govt -i.e, will be dragged further to the left by SNP and forced to increase spending in Scotland (at English taxpayers expense)

    What is now going to happen in Scotland will be extremely interesting (and I don’t claim to know how it is going to play out – Cameron will need to be careful not to overreach). Imagine areas of serious poverty in, say, Glasgow being hit by a fresh wave of austerity cuts from London — and then guess what ordinary non-aligned Scots will think about Tory legitimacy in Scotland when they see the social consequences of that policy.

  • Jon

    Anon1, you have taken my criticism too personally, and my thoughts were quite obviously not aimed at anyone! My well-intended advice is that you do not use insulting me as a device to avoid broader and philosophical discussion (as I seem to be having with Richard, who appears on the other side of the fence also). Put on your Kevlar coat please 🙂

    As it happens, one of your earlier posts inspires me to engage you in another conversation, but presently I have some work to do. I hope your door remains open to civil and interesting discourse in the near future?

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)


    “Also after 32 years of Charles Kennedy as a Libdem MP for Ross,Skye and Lochaber Mr Kennedy bowed out with a reference to the “The Night if the Long Knives.”

    When the Nazi’s murdered many of their political opponents.2


    Actually, it wasn’t the Nazis murdering their political opponents, it was Nazis murdering other Nazis (SS murdering the SA leaders).

    I’d stick to your usual invective and bollocks if I were you. You don’t do history very well.

  • Republicofscotland

    The Night of the Long Knives (German: About this sound Nacht der langen Messer ), sometimes called Operation Hummingbird or, in Germany, the Röhm Putsch, was a purge that took place in Nazi Germany from June 30 to July 2, 1934, when the Nazi regime carried out a series of political murders. Leading figures of the left-wing

    Strasserist faction of the Nazi Party, along with its figurehead, Gregor Strasser, were murdered, as were prominent conservative anti-Nazis (such as former Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher and Gustav Ritter von Kahr, who had suppressed Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch in 1923). Many of those killed were leaders of the Sturmabteilung (SA), the paramilitary Brownshirts.

    I refer the second paragraph to Habb,who clearly isn’t educated to the high standards that he constantly professes,notice the words Anti-Nazi.

    Now what was it you said about bollocks again.

  • Je

    One of the unmentioned things about this “democracy” is the rule about new MPs having to swear or affirm “true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors”.

    I heard it mentioned that Sinn Féin don’t take their seats – but not why. Their seats become really significant when the majority is small.

    There’s a peace process whereby they’ve let mass murderers be released early or escape prosecution.

    But they won’t change the swearing of the oath. Such is their true belief in democracy.

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