Nicola Sturgeon is Wrong: Let Unionists Vote for Unionists 91

I am at the SNP Conference in Aberdeen and you may not be surprised to learn that I find myself in immediate and fundamental disagreement with the party leadership.

Nicola Sturgeon in her opening address, as in media interviews yesterday, made a point of stating that she did not only want Independence supporters to vote SNP in the Holyrood elections, she wanted unionists to vote SNP too, on the grounds that the SNP were the most competent Holyrood government.

I disagree fundamentally. When we have the clear mandate for Independence of overwhelming election victories at Westminster and Holyrood elections, why muddy the waters and undermine the mandate for Independence by arguing that a vote for the SNP can also be a unionist vote? It is stupid tactics.

It is also nonsense. There is no significant unionist vote for the SNP. Ever since the referendum, opinion polls have without a single exception found support for the SNP and support for Independence to be almost identical, within the margin of statistical error. There is no well of unionist SNP supporters.

Furthermore, analysis of numerous Scottish council by-elections (see Scot Goes Pop passim) shows that unionist voters will happily transfer preferences between the unionist red, blue and orange tories but not to the SNP. Unionists will not vote SNP in significant numbers.

But assuming I am wrong and unionists flock to Sturgeon’s call and start to vote SNP, that raises major questions about the whole purpose of the SNP. If the SNP is a party which unionists can support, then plainly Independence must, by definition, no longer be the defining purpose of the SNP. That is the route Sturgeon is taking.

This is the danger of managerialism, about which I have written before. The SNP becomes so convinced by our own propaganda about the unique competence of our administration and the unique beneficence of our paternalism, that we come to believe that just having the SNP in charge in Holyrood and representing Scotland in Westminster is a good in itself. The fact that this also leaves the SNP establishment in very comfy high paid jobs with their feet well and truly under the UK establishment table is no disincentive to believe this.

Thus the motion after Sturgeon’s speech was about non-delivery of The Vow and called for the Smith Commission to be fully delivered in the Scotland Bill. I do not give tuppence for whether the Smith Commission is implemented in full, in part or not at all. It still leaves Scotland subservient to Westminster, without a voice in international organisations and subject to being dragged in to illegal war, not to mention the new cold war with Russia and renewed arms race which the UK establishment is preparing.

If Sturgeon gains more unionist votes, and in consequence the SNP had 55% rather than 51% of the Holyrood vote, and thus 65% rather than 60% of the Holyrood MPs, what precisely has been gained other than more jobs for the boys and more feet under the establishment table, at the price of abandoning a clear platform of Independence. A terrible trade-off.

If we abandon the idea of a referendum within the next five years, on the stupid grounds that we might lose, then the chance of Independence may vanish. At the moment we have a hated Tory government in Westminster, a Labour Party in utter disarray and SNP dominance in Scotland. There will never be a more favourable conjunction. Why mess it up by starting to spread doubt about the SNP’s commitment to Independence – which is suddenly less important that its commitment to Having Power.

It was the realisation that Scottish Labour cared more about Having Power than principles that put paid to that party. Sturgeon seems to want to replace Scottish Labour in every sense. The SNP may be dominant now, but if we put Power before Independence – as any analysis of Sturgeon’s speech today can only conclude she does – then we should not be surprised if many for whom Independence is the primary objective start to look at other vehicles to attain it.

91 thoughts on “Nicola Sturgeon is Wrong: Let Unionists Vote for Unionists

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  • glenn

    Macky wrote earlier: “I trust everybody spotted that horrendous & damning little factoid contain in the Intercept’s drone report, namely that 90% of people killed in drone strikes are not the intended targets.

    That’s not only to do with bad targeting, this ratio is all a measured and accepted part of the programme.

    For instance, the “double-tap” is considered very effective. A second strike occurs an indeterminate time after the first, which – after experience and folklore allows – is understood to mean it’s very hazzardous to assist grievously wounded and dying people. Medical staff, first responders in particular, are most likely to end up casualties themselves, after the fully expected follow-up missile strike.

    Naturally, a lot of completely innocent first responders will have to die before word gets around sufficiently. But when it does, it’ll make the initial strike more effective. Because the target will have little chance of getting medical aid, even if they survived.

    Makes perfect sense, for the sociopath.

    In the same way, the universally acknowledged as evil terrorists will sometimes set up secondary bombs for people running away from the scene of destruction. But they are evil.

    We target those running to help, because we are good.

  • elainesk

    Where were you a good number of years ago when Labour unionists voted Labour at general elections but SNP in Scottish elections,you didn’t think it was just SNP. The fact when they proved themselves in coalition that impressed many Scots and we felt Scotland was actually safer in hands of SNP than Labour who were controlled by London. You see Craig, l was a unionist,l voted Labour for GE but l,like others voted SNP for last Scot Election. I moved to Lab for Indy after 37 years Labour,3 years LFI then joined SNP.l also know that in SNP there were No voters so why shouldn’t unionists vote SNP to protect Scotland especially if they are Labour..if l were still unionist Labour, l wouldn’t trust them in power as the party they are and SNP are doing a fine job,more trusting than Labour for sure and its not like Indy is tomorrow and Scotland needs a strong party to get things done! That is SNP and though they need to be kept on toes about things like land reform,there are enough of us who will be on their backs if they let things slide. Whatever failings SNP have Craig, l just look at unionist parties and definitely feel l’m in the right party.

  • Why be ordinary?


    Try googling “I believe that the occupation must end. And if it doesn’t, it will end Israel. I’m not in favor of settlements.”

    How nasty is that?

  • Mary

    The ascension of the knicker queen to the Lords is considered to be a major news item by the Scotsman editorial team. They gave it half of the front page.

    The company which she founded and from which she departed has lost £400k in its last financial year.

    But Dave fell for her charmsspin.

    Michelle Mone: Ultimo lingerie founder made Cameron’s entrepreneurship tsar
    Businesswoman, who is tipped for a peerage, will encourage disadvantaged people in areas of high unemployment to start companies, DWP says

  • Mary

    Get away sock puppet masquerading as Why Be Ordinary?

    Schama is a repellent racist Zionist. He approved of the slaughter of 2,230 Palestinians last year.

    Proud Zionist Simon Schama defends Israel’s action in Gaza
    September 16, 2014

    His endless hand wringing is also very annoying and he is given far too much airtime by the BiBiCee.

    Why did BBC let Simon Schama make “moral case for Israel” unchallenged?
    Amena Saleem
    11 October 2013

  • Mary

    Introduction: Baroness Mone
    11.18 am
    Michelle Georgina Mone, having been created Baroness
    Mone, of Mayfair, in the City of Westminster, was
    introduced and took the oath, supported by Baroness
    Morris of Bolton and Lord Freud, and signed an undertaking
    to abide by the Code of Conduct.

    That’s good news about Lady Morris. She is the President of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

    Not such good news on Freud, now an IDS Minister and who did similar work for BLair and Purnell, the latter now ensconced at the BiBiCee on £300k plus.,_Baron_Freud

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Agree with Thomas Widman. Independence has to be seen as inclusive, and the SNP’s appeal isn’t. The SNP should be constantly reminded, too, that if it slips from pursuing its only original objective – independence – it’s not the only game in town. Also, the independence movement needs to pray, unfortunately, that Corbyn’s Labour falls apart.

    As the Tories tighten the screws on essential public services and further enrich and ennoble their mates, the attractive option will be UK socialism, with its economies of scale operating within the existing system, rather than a complete upheaval in the name of what might still be, even after a successful referendum, an uncertain consensus. The reason the SNP wiped out Labour in Scotland is that the SNP offered something resembling socialism, and Labour didn’t, IMO. If Labour offered socialism, the SNP would be stuffed.

    Should get interesting.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita e' bella)

    “Get away sock puppet masquerading as Why Be Ordinary?”


    Attagirl, Mary – anyone who dares to disagrees with you is either a fascist, a racist or, failing that, a sock-puppet.

    Deplorable, not conducive to proper discussion, a good way of avoiding engagement and calculated to bring this blog into disrepute.

  • Robert Crawford

    “The reason the SNP wiped out Labour in Scotland”, is, the public woke up to the fact they were lying incompetents. As well as scaremongerers who tried to manipulate the minds of the public.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    “The reason the SNP wiped out Labour in Scotland”, is, the public woke up to the fact they were lying incompetents. As well as scaremongerers who tried to manipulate the minds of the public.

    If that is the case, and who can truly know the mind of the voter? the SNP needs to be damn careful that the realities of power don’t force it to project exactly the same image, PR consultants, spin-doctors and the rest. However, the assumption that all politicians are “lying incompetents. As well as scaremongerers who tried to manipulate the minds of the public” is pretty well universal these days. I don’t think that was it. The SNP looked sufficiently ideology-friendly to lift Labour voters in the General election, but far fewer of those same voters were interested in independence at the referendum. But I’ll agree, as always, to disagree.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Libya is currently a Grade A clusterfuck. Dragging out a couple of Gaddafi’s guys and framing them can only reinforce the (very Blair) message that evil dictator…right to get rid of…freedom n’democracy…while negotiating with the utter shits currently screwing the country to get the lovely oil flowing again.

    Might be linked with forthcoming support for the ant-Islamist former Gaddafi man Khalifa Haftar: here he is earlier…

    (Paleocons may wish to Google the rightwing Jamestown Foundation for a less partisan account)

    We do not speak his name, apparently –

  • Celia Fitzgerald

    Apart from the usual hubris, the explanation for what may turn out to be the downfall of the SNP is pretty banal: incompetent, unimaginative and short sighted advisers, also a bit of stupidity from the leadership. The SNP has vastly outgrown its abilities. The fact that they would most certainly alienate the vast majority of their membership and Non-SNP pro-Indy voters who believed that a vote for SNP was a vote for independence, demonstrates this unless they are inexplicably set on self destruction.

  • DAve

    I share your the dangers of manegerialism and think its is essential that we keep an eye on our MP’s but I disagree with some of what you have said.

    First off, while it is true that Sturgeon walks a tight line here, exactly what is at risk in terms of votes? While there is a risk of alienating some SNP supporters, the YES voters are not going to become unionists. No danger! Interestingly, recent questionnaires from the SNP included questions regarding what I would do if I left the SNP, join another Independence supporting party?

    Secondly, while the polls might show alignment of YES support and SNP support there has been an increase in both, so it may not be true to say that there is no remaining votes to be had, both for the SNP and for Independence. I would also hazard that the perceived competence of the SNP is an issue for some.

    Finally, what of the mandate for a second referendum? Presumably we all accept that the greater the majority in Holyrod, the greater the voracity of the argument that we have such a mandate, Sturgeon has stated that a clear divide between the English and Scottish vote on EU membership would warrant a second referendum on Scottish Independence. The SNP have always got a plan, and I would guess that while aiming to be flexible and adaptive, they want to always increase the momentum of the campaign. Every extra SNP seat at Holyrood increases their ability to influence the EU vote. Their aim might just be to maximize both the majority in Holyrood and the divide between the English and Scottish votes in the EU ref.

    Perhaps we should trust them. They seem to know what they are doing.

  • Mary

    BBC issues ‘correction’, but no apology, for saying Jerusalem is capital of Israel
    Posted by The Medialens Editors on October 16, 2015, 4:11 pm

    14 October 2015: Newsnight

    In a report from Israel, Mark Urban referred to Jerusalem as ‘the nation’s capital’. Although Israel claims the city as its capital, this claim is not recognised internationally and East Jerusalem is considered to be occupied territory.

    The BBC’s advice to its journalists on terminology relating to Israel and the Palestinians can be read here:

    See PSC briefing:

  • Ken2

    If all Unionist politician are voted out of Scotland and the young folk rise to Independence. There will be Independence.

    Why doesn’t Westminster get Trident out of Scotland, and negotiate for full fiscal autonomy /Home rule,

    Or does Nicola know something?

  • Mary

    Lovely people.

    ‘Rabbis have declared the killing of Palestinian resistance fighters “a religious duty”, Israeli media reported.

    Israeli news website Walla reported that right-wing rabbis replied to questions including: “Am I allowed to kick the insurgent, hit him or shoot him in order to kill him after he has been arrested or is this prohibited?”

    Rabbi Rav Benzion Mutzafi replied: “It is not only desirable to do so, but it is a religious duty that you hold his head down to the ground and hit him until his last breath.”

    Mutzafi expressed anger towards Rabbi David Staph’s response. Staph said it is prohibited for people to attack a Palestinian perpetrator of an operation after he has been injured or when he is posing no danger. Mutzafi responded: “Do not listen to Staph because those who have mercy on the cruel will end up being cruel toward the righteous.”

    Chief Rabbi of the city of Safed Shmuel Eliyahu called for all Israeli police officers and soldiers who allow Palestinian resistance fighters to live after their arrest.

    “It is prohibited to keep the vandal alive after the operation, because if he is left alive, there is a fear that he would be released and then he would kill others,” Eliyahu wrote on Facebook.’
    16 October 2015

  • John Northcote

    Anyone who has joined the SNP and is not for Independence should not be a member. The constitution clearly states that the primary aim is an Independent Scotland.

    1. The Party shall be named the Scottish National Party.
    2. The aims of the Party shall be:
    (a) Independence for Scotland; that is the restoration of Scottish national sovereignty by restoration of
    full powers to the Scottish Parliament, so that its authority is limited only by the sovereign power of
    the Scottish People to bind it with a written constitution and by such agreements as it may freely enter
    into with other nations or states or international organisations for the purpose of furthering
    international cooperation, world peace and the protection of the environment.
    (b) the furtherance of all Scottish interests.

  • Mary

    A corollary to last night’s QT.

    This became an item on the BBC 6pm News.

    ‘Michelle Dorrell: ‘Why I was so angry on Question Time’
    1 hour ago


    The Conservative voter who berated Amber Rudd over tax credits on Question Time told the BBC that she is reliant on child tax credits to make ends meet.

    Michelle Dorrell, 35, is a single mum from Folkestone in Kent with four children.

    She is a self employed beautician, running a nail bar from her front room.

    A Treasury spokesperson released a statement after her appearance on Question Time, saying: “The reforms to welfare set out in the Summer Budget are fair and necessary, and will take tax credit spending back only to 2008 levels, with most working households better off once all welfare reforms have come into force by 2017.”

    Ms Dorrell was speaking to the BBC’s Chris Mason.’

    I see that the poor woman was almost in tears. Are the BBC now representing the views of us, the 99% or is giving attention to Michelle Dorrell’s dilemma just a sop?

    The video of her speaking last night is followed by one of the hard hearted Amber Rudd and then one of Cameron on Marr and so on.

  • Dave Lawton

    Radiation fades your genes.

    “This study powerfully contradicts the views of ill-informed and inexperienced journalists (including the UK writer George Monbiot) [3] and self-styled scientists who argue that radiation risks are over-estimated and even that radiation is somehow good for you.”

    Hear Hear Journalist`s should stick to journalism.They should try standing in front of a beam-line of a proton synchrotron.That would give them something to write about.

  • Robert Crawford

    Mary how do these lovely people get away with it?

    If that was me or you saying that about Jews/Israelis our feet would not touch the ground!

    Religious types too!!!

  • Ken2

    What is really annoying is the Unionists who voted NO but expect the SNP to protect their jobs, pensions and public services. Ie vote Unionist in GE and SNP in Holyrood elections. It just needs a 5% swing for Independence and the young are not feart or influenced by MSM.

    Nuclear is the most expensive and dangerous. Wind, wave renewables are safer and more cost effective.

  • Tom Platt

    DomesticExtremist has landed a torpedo on the article with “ little as 15 years ago the unionist vote (i.e. those voting for unionist parties) massively overwhelmed both the SNP vote and the independence vote.

    Clearly, the SNP has managed to tap a well of unionist support and convert them along the way to the independence cause”. This momentum needs merely to be maintained in May 2016 and May 2017 to ensure the transformation of Scottish politics becomes complete. BBC Scotland will have to become much more inventive to continue to wage its unionist propaganda on Scots when there are many fewer Unionist representatives in Holyrood and in local councils.

  • Peter A Bell

    [ Mod: Caught in spam-filter ]

    The snide tone of remarks such as “unique competence” and “unique beneficence” should serve as a warning that Craig Murray’s thinking on this matter may not be entirely dispassionate. Likewise reference to “very comfy high paid jobs”. This hints at that particularly silly attitude which holds that the only people who are acceptable for political office are those who do not hold political office. Getting elected disqualifies an individual from being considered worthy of holding elected office on the grounds that they are in receipt of the going rate for the job.

    The last thing the SNP needs at the moment is yet another self-appointed defender of the purity of its cause – as defined by said defender. Craig Murray has decided what the SNP should be. And the slightest departure from this specification is to be condemned as heresy. But the rest of us are entitled to ask why the party should be thus rigidly defined. And to wonder by what authority Mr Murray gets to be the ultimate arbiter in the matter.

    The reality is that the SNP has two very distinct roles. It serves as the de facto political arm of the independence movement. And it is a political party operating, of necessity, within the confines of the British political system. This latter role being further complicated by the fact that the SNP is both a party of government – in Scotland – and an opposition party – at Westminster. For all these roles are distinct, they are not discrete. They affect one another.

    The SNP is more effective as the political arm of the independence movement to the extent that it is effective as a political party – either in government or in opposition.

    Not only is it necessary for the SNP to be in government in Scotland in order to deal with the practicalities of becoming independent, it also needs to inspire confidence in the capability of a Scottish government.

    It is reasonable to assume that not all No voters were rabid British nationalists dedicated to defending the union at any cost. It is all but certain that a substantial proportion were people who harboured genuine doubts about the feasibility of independence. In fact, it would be surprising if there were not a great many people who thought Scotland “Too wee! Too poor! Too stupid!” given the deluge of propaganda which assailed them. Those people will be open to persuasion if they are first given cause to question their assumptions about our ability to manage our own affairs. The administration doesn’t have to display “unique competence” or “unique beneficence”. It need only be quietly competent and evidently committed to serving the interests of Scotland’s people.

    Craig Murray’s efforts to belittle the SNP administration are not helpful. No government can be above criticism. But those who aspire to the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status should be wary of slipping into the inane “SNP BAD!” narrative of those whose abiding loyalty is to the ruling elites of the British state.

    We need the SNP. It is the instrument by which we will lever ourselves out of the anachronistic, asymmetric, corrupt political union. We should be judicious in our use of that lever. We must recognise that, in order to achieve this end, the party must operate within the British political system. There is no small irony in the fact that, if we want independence, we need a party that is effective by the criteria of the very political system we seek to break, and break from. If we want to win, the SNP must be winners. And that means taking votes wherever they are to be had.

  • Kininvie

    So wrong. When were you last out on the doors, Craig? Anyone who canvasses regularly will tell you there’s a significant percentage of SNP voters who answer ‘No’ to the independence question. Many of these voters are still unsure or bring up the same worries as we heard during the referendum, but they vote SNP because they trust the party more than they do the others. I’m disappointed that you, as a former diplomat, don’t seem to have embraced the necessity of winning people to your point of view – over time.

  • Jemand ( [*censored* - ask me why] )

    No doubt I misunderstood the headline of the post, but it made me think about a possible referendum that asks all voters in the UK whether they support a continuation of the union. After all, it does affect all people of the UK so perhaps it is more fair than the rather limited alternative that saw the defeat of the case for independence. It just might transpire that many non-Scots no longer wish to be bridled with Scottish restiveness for independence.

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