Nicola the Haverer 199

Replacing Alex with Nicola set back the cause of Scottish Independence. It was a great success for the SNP as an institution, but it is now abundantly clear that the institutional health of the SNP and the cause of Independence are two quite separate things.

I have posted at intervals this last two years that I have heard nobody from the SNP argue the case for Independence since Indyref1. I still have heard nobody from the SNP argue the positive case for Independence since Indyref1. To the extent that when the tendentious GERS report came out and was splashed all over mainstream media, nobody from the SNP explained why the finances of an independent Scotland would work. (To give just one example Scottish taxes contribute £2.2 billion to housing benefit of which only a quarter of Scotland’s contribution is spent in Scotland).

Unionist propaganda is still streamed out of the mainstream media every day. If nobody counters with the case for Independence, support for Independence will never increase. The latest YouGov poll putting us back at 46% is probably accurate. The idea that you wait until support has – by magic – increased to a regular 60% before you start campaigning is self-evidently delusional.

We started the referendum campaign at – at best – 32%. Through street campaigning, new media and the people’s energy, against the concerted might of the mainstream media, we got it up to 45%. We can have that effect again. Starting at 46%, I have no doubt that we can get it well over 50% in Indyref2.

It was the Yes movement on the ground that did this, through street campaigning, town hall meetings and social media. And never forget this – while the SNP were a valued part in that, were our wedge into mainstream media, and had Alex in the debates, the official SNP were a minority in the ground war Yes campaign. It was only after the referendum that the Yes campaigners piled in to the SNP. That brought in some of the SNP’s best new MP’s, like Tommy Sheppard, Mhairi Black and Chris Law. But have you seen those great campaigners arguing for Independence in the last twelve months? No. Party discipline has silenced them.

There have been a number of ruses by Nicola to avert the desire of the membership to campaign for Independence.

*We had the promised “Summer of Independence” campaign which was simply forgotten.
*We had the avoidance of an Indyref2 promise in the manifesto through the “material change” clause
*When “material change” undeniably happened through the EUref, we had the avoidance of Indyref2 through the “panel of experts” – a body of mostly ultra-establishment people, almost all neo-liberal, including the secretary of the Bilderberg Group, who will produce an anti-Independence report.

We now have the latest ruse to put off campaigning for Independence and it is transparently thin. The idea is to keep the activists happy through till the New Year by holding – then analysing the results of – a “national conversation”. This is simply an opinion poll. Here are 80% of the questions (all I could grab in a screenshot).

Screenshot (66)

Note the “national conversation” is not one in which the party will argue for Independence. It is just a poll of what people think with no attempt to convince them, as plain in the “activists’ guide” which accompanies it to members. The SNP could simply have paid their pollsters to ask the same questions, with an unusually large sample size of say 10,000, and got a more accurate result than they will from this survey. (All party surveys/canvass returns, always, overestimate their support as those surveyed generally wish to be polite to the person talking to them).

The SNP as an institution is secure in its powerbase in its regional council at Holyrood – let’s not pretend we have a national Parliament yet when we have no say in going to illegal war – and has a lot of well paid people with their feet firmly under the table in Westminster and Brussels. From next year it will dominate Scotland’s councils. The SNP is doing very nicely thank you. As an institution, it has more to risk than to gain from another shot at Independence. Nicola’s havering to put off another effort at Independence has now become ludicrous.


* Scotland’s EU membership will be much simpler if Independence is achieved before Brexit and Scots just remain EU citizens. Leaving and rejoining will be technically and politically far more complicated. I may not be Establishment enough for Nicola’s “expert panel”, but as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Warsaw for four years my main task was Poland’s EU accession and I do know what I am talking about. That gives us just 2 years or less for both Indyref2 and negotiation with rUK. We have to fire the starting gun if we are serious
* If the SNP continue to abjure putting the case for Independence, opinion polls will never move in our favour and may slip further
* Nothing is certain in politics. At the moment there is probably a Holyrood majority for Indyref2, but in 2020 there may well not be.

People will now reply that Nicola is a brilliantly successful politician while I am just a spurned old idealist tapping alone on my laptop. But that is why you should listen to me.

199 thoughts on “Nicola the Haverer

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  • Terry

    Absolutely. It seems their cosy, well-paid Holyrood/Westminster jobs are making them rather less than commited advocates of Scottish independence which is a shame if you think about it. A few more years of this and they’ll end up as the Labour party thinking they’ve got a God-given right to power while doing nothing real. Come on, Nicola.

  • Jim Morris

    I fully agree with your analysis, and was interested in the Housing Benefit statistic. Does anyone in England et al pay any tax at all? My own take is that the biggest problem is the Official Secrets Act which demands the telling of lies to the people for the rest of your life, including the true numbers about the wealth of Scotland appropriated by Westminster and used or kept back from the people for their special agendas.

    • Tom

      Yes, people in England pay tax. Funnily enough, there are actually quite a lot of poor people in England who are also getting screwed by the Westminster establishment, particularly in the North.

      This is one of the other problems the Scottish independence movement has – descending into bitter, tabloid, petty nationalism. There are quite a lot of people in England who are supportive of the independence movement but ludicrously nationalistic twaddle puts them off, makes them apathetic. Is this about Scotland being able to determine its own course or about slagging off the English? If it’s about the latter then you’re no better than a little Englander who voted for Brexit because ‘we can’t have all them Germans coming over here’, and deserve to fail. If it’s about the former then make it about the former and you might succeed.

      • Richard McHarg

        Tom, do you get the impression that there’s an anti-English sentiment emanating from the Scottish independence movement, or is it perhaps what you’re being told is being said, which is quite different?

        There is certainly an anti-establishment/anti-Westminster sentiment, which shouldn’t be confused with anti-Englishness. If anti-Englishness exists to any extent, in the form of slagging off the English, I’m certainly not seeing it, and I’ve been around this movement for a couple of decades now. Our movement is made up of people from all over the world. We actually like our foreigners!

        That said, despite having many English people in our ranks, what really annoys us is people from England living here who are slagging us off.

        Your thoughts?

        • Tom

          I don’t pay any attention to mainstream media coverage of politics, so no, this has nothing to do with what I’m being told.

          I’m responding to comments like ‘Does anyone in England et al pay any tax at all?’ which are petty, stupid and obviously motivated by some childish tribal mentality of ‘us vs the English’. If you’re saying you don’t hear or read comments like this then I don’t know what to tell you, since there are a couple just in this comments section.

          “what really annoys us is people from England living here who are slagging us off” – this is the tribal mentality I’m talking about. There are plenty of Scottish in Scotland slagging you off. The real problem is Westminster and the City of London. But what really annoys you is English people in Scotland disagreeing with you.

          Grow the hell up.

  • campbell

    Theresa May cannot keep her cards hidden much longer. Unless a very soft Brexit is aimed at and has a reasonable chance of happening then the case for independence will never be stronger and it would be a mistake of historical proportions to get cold feet.
    There is a difference between “havering” and tactical caution but the moment of decision cannot be far off.

    • craig Post author

      There is indeed a difference between tactical caution and havering. Yesterday it became havering with this national conversation ruse.

      • Douglas

        I am sure that IndyRef2 will (and must) be called before Brexit.
        I am not an SNP member (I find it easier to argue for independence without having to defend the SNP on every issue that is thrown at them) but I do not think that Nicola is havering and I certainly don’t think that the SNP politicians have been assimilated into the establishment.
        There are many folks who are shaken and are adjusting to the Brexit disaster. Nicola has (as my old maths teacher would put it) to ‘show her working’. The correct answer is ‘with Brexit there is no way to remain a European citizen and a British subject’ and I have no doubt that is the conclusion that will be reached very soon but we need to guide people through this. If she rushed in with the answer it would be dismissed as ‘of course she would say that’.
        The National Conversation is not a simple poll. It is far more powerful than that; it is an early part of the IndyRef2 campaign. Getting thousands of new SNP members (and other Yessers like me) asking these questions will help draw the previously unconvinced in. It also puts the Unionists in a difficult position. If they ignore the initiative the results will be (unfairly) in favour of IndyRef2 and will deal with the (rather thin) ‘everyone is tired of voting and debating’ line. If they engage then it lends it credibility.
        The National Conversation is mobilisation (or ‘getting the band back together’ if you prefer a less militaristic metaphor).
        I think IndyRef2 in the second half of next year would be about right (time to deal with the Labour councils in May and for the harm of Brexit to start to become apparent) but certainly no later if we are to avoid getting dragged out.
        I think Nicola is being canny and actually is better suited for this situation than Alex leading a charge.
        All on the same side…just different views about timing and tactics

        • Brian Forrest

          My thoughts exactly, Douglas. It’s not just Nicola here…she has a very canny, experienced team of advisers who have worked tirelessly for many years toward Independence. I trust them to deliver.

      • Mark

        I agree with Douglas below and I am really surprised that you can not see his points.

        How long do you think this conversation will take? The way you are talking it sounds like its going to be years. It isnt.

        Indyref2 needs to be soon and it will be. A few more months thats all. The trigger is already there with May saying that she will push the button without parliament’s (therefore Scottish MPs) say so.

        • michael norton

          I think Tony Blair had a very short “Listening to the people phase” it didn’t last long, he invaded Iraq

  • Bob Costello

    Craig , you could have read my mind . I was going to blog on exactly what you say here but you have said it for me .What is the point of having a conversation when you know the answers before hand m, We know that there was 55% against independence two years ago and apart from natural events such as Brexit there will be little change as their has been no effort to address the issues we lost the last referendum on.
    The SNP have been the beneficiaries of circumstance ,it is as simple as that and any move towards independence had been generated ,not by the SNP but by Labour and the Tory party.
    This constant carrot dangling is embarrassing . I had to leave the SNP after a 30 year membership, a year ago, mainly because of frustration and the way the SNP group tried to ruin a rally in Dundee ( the one you spoke at ) .Not a single thing has changed today ., They prevented another independence related rally which was to take place last week in Dundee.

  • Carl Jones

    The problem is based around ‘will Scotland be better off’? This is the wrong starting point and question. The UK is bankrupt and only low rates are saving the UK. Another financial collapse and the UK elite are out of tricks, they will be raiding every bank account and pension and cutting through the bone.

    Do the Scots want to be attached to a corpse economy rotting from within? Five years ago Britain had a total debt of 1000% to GDP. That 1000% is probably around 1300% by now, as the corrupt Westminster elite uses tax payers money to subsidise mortgages issued by bust banks, this is really QE and called Help to Buy. They offer the well off, £3000 of tax payers money to top up mortgage deposits…on houses that are really worth 50% of their asking price. The market is very narrow and this makes it appear healthy. Without this ponzi, the UK property market will collapse.

    They can wangle the economy on Brexit, but only by cutting the pound. This will make Britain very poor, as if we aren’t poor enough. Take new car sales, they are doing very well, but wait, these are not sales, because most people can’t afford to BUY a car. No, most people don’t own their cars. These cars are leased and then dumped on the second hand market. Apple are using a similar system to keep there sales up, sorry, leasing numbers up. These are clear signs of the UK’s economic slide. The Scots should be thinking about avoiding the next jump in UK debt growth. I really wonder who the SNP leadership really works for?

    • Tom

      “Do the Scots want to be attached to a corpse economy rotting from within?”

      More nationalistic twaddle. ‘The Scots’ helped rack up that debt, and benefited from it. The idea you can just wash your hands of it and blame it all on the English is ludicrously naive.

      So much of the Scottish independence movement reminds me of the Brexit movement – this starry-eyed, gullible tribalism whereby apparently everything will be so much better once we leave – we’ll be richer, have more freedom, it’ll be a return to the good old days. It won’t. Economic realities are what they are.

      • Phil

        Why do we have to put up with these ‘Economic realities’?
        Seems to me they are a pile of poo.
        We have been hoodwinked, cheated by hawks who sell us the ‘dream’ of Capitalism via ‘clever’, base-appealing, esoteric claptrap. It appears to me that unfettered Capitalism works really well only for the 1%.

        Its time for the snp to be really brave here – are they able?

        I sometimes wish we had taken this forwards under a ‘Yes Alliance’ kinda party rather than trusting wholly the snp.
        My thoughts.

        • Tom

          The ability to borrow money that you never have to pay back is one of the major factors in why the richer countries are the richer countries. That includes Scotland.

          The alternative (in reality, not in political fantasy land) is to declare bankruptcy and re-boot your currency, which means accepting in both the short and long term that you’ll be poorer. This applies to England, Scotland, Wales, the USA, France, Germany and any other rich country. We’d be like most nations – actually having to rely on the wealth we produce and provide to underpin our economies, which means being a lot poorer (materially) than we are now.

          But no one wants to admit this. No one wants to admit that right now, compared with most countries, we have it easy. We are richer than we should be. There’s no votes in that, compared to lots of hints and implications and glorified assumptions and guesswork claiming that the UK will be richer outside of the EU or Scotland will be richer outside of the UK.

          More honest? Maybe. More ability to self-determine? Most than likely. But richer? No f***ing way…

          • Phil

            I hear you Tom – but its pure insane madness.
            As I said we have been hoodwinked to believe that Econmoists are the ‘New Gods’.
            They absolutely aren’t.

  • Mark

    I too share your concern.
    I’m hoping rally on 18th addresses this.
    Survey tho I completed it seems pointless.
    I’ve witnessed first hand one of the new intake getting cosy already.
    To become the new establishment before even achieving your first goal is astounding.
    At least Ireland’s corrupt politicians waited until after independence.

  • Bryan Weir

    I see so much revealed on social media that often surprises and normally further convinces me that Independence is the way forward for Scotland. I do realise that much of what I see is created and promulgated by people suffering from confirmation bias but when I see something that looks convincing I often wonder why it never goes any further than social media.

    Possibly one of the worst things to happen for the SNP during the last few months was the recent release of the GERS figures, which suggest that Scotland has a £15 Billion black hole. The Unionist press were all over this story like a rash. We do know for sure that GERS was created to discourage nationalism and that the figures only apply to a Scotland as part of the Union. Also, so many credible people and organisations have presented believable statistics that tell a different story (E.G Business for Scotland) that I wonder why the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon are not loudly proclaiming their side of the argument? If they shouted loud enough and chose their moments the press would have to cover it.

    This type of caution could have cost us the last referendum. The SNP knew that the BBC and the Unionist MSM were publishing blatant lies that in some cases they could have publicly disproven. Rather than attacking them for this they left it to people on social media (“the Yes movement on the ground”) to discuss it and promulgate it. They chose caution, perhaps through fear of further antagonising the MSM.

    I think they need to go on the attack. They cannot rely on social media. The people they are trying to turn, the 55%, will not be spending much time on pro Yes forums and those who do visit will not be convinced by a few memes and comments on Facebook pages. Or perhaps the GERS figures are correct? I am not clever enough to determine this for myself.

    • David

      Yes I think a big part of the current issue comes down to how prepared the SNP are, as a party and as the party of government, to begin a proper challenge of our biased mainstream media. I think the MPs and MSPs are still a bit deluded into believing that they need the MSM as much as the MSM needs them. They need to stop abrogating responsibility for proper, well researched criticism of BBC and other MSM. Do they hope that it will all come good when, by some mystical set of circumstances, enough wallet clutching pensioners, low level racists, and naive, stay home, types who are spoon fed the latest corrupted sound bite headlines between Eastenders and Naked Attraction will all start reading those sources that are, currently, denied a mention on anything officially tied to SNP. I’m grateful for Wings Over Scotland, Common Weal, Derek Bateman, Craig Murray etc. but the challenge to the media from within the party that consistently gets vilified and misrepresented must start coming clearly from that party itself because only they can put this issue properly and substantially into the mainstream.

  • Rob Royston

    The whole thing reminds me of how it used to happen in industry when able and articulate leaders in a labour dispute would be offered a foreman’s job, the “King’s shilling” or the “Bent Penny” as people used to call it.
    In politics it is just the same, they get the bigger pay packet and their outlook changes. If they become party leaders they get to visit the Queen and get appointed to the Privy Council.
    We will never achieve Independence operating within the state that we are trying to split from, the control levers are not ours. We need to get back to street politics, form a real Independence movement that refuses to send elected MP’s to Westminster. When the people are with us then we declare that we are free.

      • Rob Royston

        The benefit would be an Independent Scotland. We need to win our Independence back, playing to our opponents political rules makes that unlikely. The SNP are now making Scotland a pawn in the EU/Brexit battle. I don’t want the EU or the UK, I want a Free Scotland. What does the SNP want most?

        • Peter A Bell

          I too would be interested to hear your ideas on the benefits of refusing to send our MPs to Westminster. You say the benefit would be an independent Scotland. But I don’t believe in magic. I want to know what the process is here in the real world.

          • Rob Royston

            The process at the moment is that the Scottish people have sent 56 SNP MP’s to Westminster. If they make any political moves they are either ignored or outvoted by English MP’s. It is obvious to everyone that Scots have no representation in many matters that affect their lives. The MP’s sit there keeping the benches warm for Labour’s return.
            As they don’t seem to be making any headway in the fight for a right for Scottish representation in this Union with England, the bench warmers need to ask the Scottish people to back them so that they can make a Declaration of Independence.

        • Peter A Bell

          I really tried to make sense of your response. Near as I can make out, it’s a call for UDI. That’s not going to happen. Not while other routes are open. So it’s a pointless discussion.

          • Rob Royston

            The problem with all these other routes is that they are like rainbows with a promised pot of gold at the end, an end that we can never seem to come to. I’ve been sending my vote down these routes for over fifty years.

  • Taranaich

    Regarding “Nicola the Haverer”: let us not forget Alex Salmond was accused of exactly the same for his gradualist approach, not least during the first SNP government at Holyrood. Plenty of folk were certain he wouldn’t have called the first indyref even with an SNP majority, and would look for a reason to kick it into the long grass, right up to the days before the Edinburgh Agreement.

    Regarding the national conversation: I’ve been calling for exactly this for years now. It is more than a glorified opinion poll: it is a method of engagement with voters completely bypassing their manipulative elected members. The British parties need their “majority” to be silent, because then they can speak for them – or, rather, put words in their mouths. It means we can say exactly why people voted No – and what do you think it would say when the majority of reasons are based on demonstrable lies like pensions, subsidies, or the EU? This is why the response from Britnats like Tomkins & Davidson hasn’t been “bring it on,” but sheer unmitigated panic & demands to shelve independence once and for all.

    Regarding the grassroots: I’m champing at the bit for #indyref2 as well. If the SNP were a minority in the indyref ground war, then they will be again. That was clear when the 31st of July March saw an expected turnout of hundreds become a turnout of thousands. We don’t need to wait for the SNP. The Yes Registry certainly isn’t.

    Regarding “regional council at Holyrood”: again, I disagree. We have a Parliament and a nation which is being prevented from exercising the powers of a sovereign nation by another, larger nation in a phoney union. British Nationalists can deride our Wee Pretendy Parliament, but if we treat it like a real one, then we will regain it.

    And on your last line: I’m going to listen to the First Minister, *and* I’m going to listen to you, because I think you’re both vital to the cause. Regardless of what the SNP do – and I say this as a member – it’s up to the grassroots.

  • fred

    Typical of Nationalist propaganda, ignore the Scottish government’s own figures which they quote often enough when it suits their purposes and listen only to the Vicar of Bath.

    Ignore the entire picture and hit on one small part where it appears Scots may fare worse than the rest of the UK then shout it at the blood and soil nationalists to get them feeling aggrieved.

    Here is what the Institute for Fiscal Studies says about housing benefits:

    “Spending on housing benefit is lower in Scotland largely because rents are lower; the proportion of the population receiving housing benefit is fairly similar to the average for Great Britain. This reflects both lower private and social sector rents, and a larger fraction of people on housing benefit living in social housing (where rents are lower than in the private sector). However, significant spending by the Scottish government on social housing and other housing initiatives means total spending on housing in 2011–12 was higher in Scotland (£597per person) than in England (£493) or Wales (£471).”

    The reason the Nationalists are not going to hold another referendum is because they would lose and one of the reasons they will lose is because much of what they said before the last referendum has turned out to not be true. Why should anyone believe them now? Especially when they adopt the exact same tactics of deceit.

    Scotland is an expensive country when it comes to social welfare. Providing services to remote areas and islands costs more than to people in towns and cities while they have a much lower population density to pay for it. That is just plain common sense and a good reason why Scotland is better off as part of the UK where the costs can be shared with other areas.

      • fred

        Yes, they said the Scottish government would receive more powers and they are receiving more powers.

        Now what of Alex Salmond’s claim that oil wealth would make an independent Scotland one of the richest countries in the world?

          • fred

            You can’t argue with the facts.

            From next April the Scottish government will have the power to set tax bands and rates as promised.

            They will use these new powers to raise taxes. Scots earning over £43,387 will pay £323 more than their English counterparts and this will rise to £801 by 2021.

            See the news on Tuesday.

          • fred

            Today the Scottish government gained the right to increase benefits. Westminster is keeping their promise.


            Time to get out of denial and take those tartan blinkers off. Westminster didn’t lie, the SNP did. Westminster honours the democratic will of the people the SNP ignores it. When a referendum doesn’t go the way the British government wanted it to go they don’t just keep on holding referendums till it does.

            The SNP are not the good guys here and Westminster are not the demons.

        • Republicofscotland

          The usual, the naysayers expect Scotland to be able to run itself in a similar fashion, as other nations do who have full control over fiscal levers, and don’t receive a block grant.

          It’s a bit like running a race with a ball and chain (Westminster ) attached to your ankle.

          Oranges and apples, me thinks.

  • George Bell

    As much as I wish for Scotland to be Independent and the sooner the better are we not missing obvious point of “material change”?
    Until Article 50 activation the is no “material change” therefore to call for an Independence referendum before activation is only falling into the Unionist trap once again. The previous Independence Referendum was called more by the insistence of the Unionists parties pushing to have one before Scotland was really ready for it. Hence the outcome.
    Now is the time for the Independence Movement to get together, learn from the past, prepare their answers and be ready for action at possibly short notice once Article 50 has been activated.
    If a Referendum is called before Art 50 activation, we can fully expect WM to hold off activation with the excuse that it needs to handle the Scottish problem before turning to the problem of leaving the EU
    Also a referendum before Art 50 activation puts Scotland in the same position as before with the EU unable to show support to a region of a member state seeking independence, and puts an Independent Scotland having to seek EU membership as a new application. Once Art 50 is activated, this position changes into the Member State leaving the EU with a”region” of that member state seeking independence and wishing to “continue” its membership of the EU, which seems to be looked on favourably by the EU

  • Jim

    Craig, a question rather than comment: do you think the situation will change once a new snp depute is elected, say Angus Robertson or Tommy Shepherd, who I perceive as the most disparate of the candidates?

  • mike Condy

    I don’t think the opinion in this is fair. We remain 45% or so. Campaigning will grow that number, campaigning with good timing will grow that better. Announce when article 50 is triggered and referendum happens in the middle of negotiations. The point of greatest uncertainty, unionists can’t play the stick with us and avoid the unknown card quite so easily then.

    • craig Post author

      I would be happy with an Indyref announcement when Article 50 is triggered, Mike. I don’t think Nicola will do that without considerable pressure – of which I am seeking to add my own few grams.

      • Peter A Bell

        That comment betrays a corrosive attitude. It is not “pressure” that Nicola Sturgeon requires, but support. That is what she has been asking for these many months now. She needs to have the whole independence movement united behind her in order to challenge the British state. Her constant message has been, “Tell me what you want me to do. Then back me while I do it.”

        That you think Sturgeon needs to be forced to pursue independence merely shows how badly you have misread the situation.

  • Allan

    Sad but true. Maybe the new energy in the Yes movement will get them to do something. But so far I’ve seen no evidence of the SNP pushing as hard as they could for independence, worse than that they’re limiting debate within their own party by new members on fracking for instance. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t joined. Saying that the do have some of the finest politicians seen in this country for a generation. But that’s not enough to secure independence. If they don’t push fir independence now at the height if their influence then there’s very little chance that it will be achieved with the SNP and as a result it will take at least another generation to achieve, if indeed it ever is.

  • MJ

    If you want Scotland to trade its dependency on the UK for dependency on the EU then you really must think up a few good reasons for using the euro. You may have written an article without once mentioning the currency issue but it is the only thing that really matters and you can be assured that people will ask.

    • MJ

      Just noticed that my icon thingy has changed from blue to green, though I haven’t changed any settings. I am not an imposter impersonating myself (except in a profoundly philosophical sense of course).

    • Alcyone

      Critical, but not the only thing that matters, by a long shot.

      A Scottish Pound, akin to the present day weaker GBP would be great, if not essential, for Scottish exports. Also to encourage more local manufacturing and processing in order to keep imports to a minimum.

    • Republicofscotland

      This old chestnut pops up regularly, here’s a good example of a voice in the EU that Scotland would have, that it doesn’t have now, if independent. During negotiations over fishing rights with the EU, Richard Lochhead (was the secretary for Rural Affairs Food and the Environment) but he had to sit behind a Westminster lord who knew virtually nothing about Scottish fishing, and say nothing as the uninformed lord bartered Scotland’s fishing grounds.

      That is just one example, as to why cutting out Westminster a needless level of government, would be good for Scotland.

  • Peter A Bell

    What a load of pish!

    Does Craig Murray seriously imagine he is advancing the cause of independence by this kind of pointless, petulant sniping at the SNP? How is that cause served by being no more than an echo-chamber for some of the more puerile unionist propaganda?

    Our opponents know full well that, as the de facto political arm of Scotland’s independence movement, the SNP is absolutely crucial to the process of restoring Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. Naturally, they seek to damage the SNP at every opportunity and in diverse ways. Not the least of these is the tactic of presenting the party as having ‘gone cold’ on the idea of independence. As having ‘betrayed the cause’. As having let down the independence campaign. It’s the age-old strategy of divide and rule that the British state has been perfecting for centuries. And all to many people are falling for it. Even normally intelligent people are allowing their buttons to be pressed.

    It has become almost fashionable, in certain circles, to prove one’s credentials as a ‘true believer’ in independence by attacking the SNP. It matters little whether there are any rational grounds for such attacks. The unionist media have defined two camps. You’re either an independent-minded individual; or you’re an unthinking party loyalist. There’s nothing in between. There’s no nuance. There’s no spectrum. There’s just this rigid dichotomy. If you’re daft enough to accept these media-defined labels, you’re obviously going to want to avoid the one that reads “Mindless Party Loyalist”. So you have to be critical of the SNP.

    But it doesn’t end there. In order to avoid being assigned to the “Mindless Party Loyalist” category, not just any criticism will do. In fact, constructive, reasoned criticism will be rejected every bit as vehemently as any expression of support for the party or rebuttal of criticisms. In order to avoid categorisation as a “Mindless Party Loyalist” your criticism of the SNP must be selected from the list provided by the party’s unionists opponents. The fact that these also happen to be opponents of the independence movement evidently eludes those who fall for this manipulative ruse.

    It’s time for a bit of realpolitik. The independence movement long since passed the stage of being carried forward solely on a wave of enthusiastic commitment. We are now into the end moves. And those have to be clever moves. Getting it wrong at this stage would surely cost us dear. We are talking about setting back the cause, not by years, but by decades.

    We have to recognise the crucial role of the SNP administration. We also have to recognise that independence must be won from within the British political system. A system that cares little for popular opinion. A system that respects only brute political power. A system that has evolved to marginalise and/or neutralise any threat to the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. The SNP, both as a party and as an administration, has to be effective within this system.It has to play the game by the rules of British political system in order that Scotland might break free from that system.

    Nicola Sturgeon’s strategy at the moment is to build a level of public support which gives her administration the “brute political power” that it needs in order to move forward with the independence project. Needless to say, the British political establishment is bent on preventing the SNP administration securing even a mandate for another referendum. They will do absolutely anything to deter and weaken support for the SNP because they know that is the most effective way to block the independence movement.

    Nothing suits the anti-independence better than the kind of knee-jerk reaction to the SNP’s tactics that we see here. Nothing serves their purpose better than the kind of shallow analysis that presents these tactics as some kind of failure rather than recognising the cleverness. Look at how the British parties in Scotland and the unionist media have reacted to the SNP’s survey! If that doesn’t tell you it’s got them worried then you’re really not paying attention.

    Craig Murray and his wee clique might want to reflect on the fact that, even if they are unable to recognise the cleverness of Nicola Sturgeon’s tactics, our opponents certainly aren’t oblivious to the threat.

    • Alcyone

      Craig Murray has a ‘clique’? Who are its members pray?

      I understand that there are two sides to the argument; that is not unusual.

    • craig Post author

      You are entitled to your opinion, Peter, but I don’t have a “clique”. A total of six people work on maintaining this blog, of all kinds of political persuasions, some of them Unionists. I speak to any group that invites me, but don’t have members, followers or collaborators,

      You say “Needless to say, the British political establishment is bent on preventing the SNP administration securing even a mandate for another referendum.”

      The mandate already exists from the Holyrood election and the “material change” since, It is the lack of willingness to implement that mandate which is the problem

      • Peter A Bell

        No, Craig. The problem is your inability to recognise or unwillingness to accept the methods by which that mandate is being implemented. Just for a moment, try entertaining the idea that Sturgeon and her team might just know better than you how to go about things. After all, they do have a pretty good record in such matters. Good enough that any rational person would at least pause for thought before condemning absolutely everything they do.

        • craig Post author


          Aah, the Appeal to Authority.

          Edward I was of course an extremely able and experienced ruler with massive time in Government. “Any rational person” would realise he knew better than a dishevelled chap in a cave looking at spiders.

          • Peter A Bell

            That wasn’t an “Appeal to Authority”. It was an appeal to objective experience. It is telling that you would attempt to dismiss the undeniable campaigning success of the SNP in such a petty manner.

          • Bob Smith

            Peter Ball says “It is telling that you would attempt to dismiss the undeniable campaigning success of the SNP in such a petty manner.” Forgive me, but what undeniable campaigning success? The independence referendum was was lost by a very clear majority. That is an undeniable campaigning failure.

        • Bryan Weir

          “Just for a moment, try entertaining the idea that Sturgeon and her team might just know better than you how to go about things.”

          And just for a moment try entertaining the idea that they may not be getting everything right. They must not be placed beyond criticism, That to me seems like what you are suggesting.

          • Peter A Bell

            I am happy to entertain the idea that the SNP might not be “getting everything right”. In fact, I’m quite certain that they are not doing everything absolutely right. That would be truly exceptional and highly unlikely.

            Nobody has suggested that the SNP should be “beyond criticism”. Nobody! That is one of the more pathetic straw men deployed by those who think it clever to snipe at the SNP whether they have cause or not. All I say is that, if you are criticising, make sure you are doing so on good grounds. And don’t imagine you have some divine right to attack the SNP with impunity. If somebody challenges the basis of your criticism, it might be good if you had something more substantial to offer in response than a crappy pretence that such a challenge equates with putting the SNP beyond criticism.

            We need some grown-up politics if the independence project is to succeed. Certain individuals and groups are going to have to stop putting loyalty to their currently favoured faction above all else and accept that the SNP is what we’ve got. There is no other credible candidate to be the political arm of the independence movement. And without that political arm – massively empowered by the backing of the ENTIRE independence movement – we are going nowhere.

            This is no time for fantasy politics in which things are achieved simply by marching and putting leaflets through doors. All of that is important. But it all comes to nothing unless it can be channelled into a party political force capable of being effective within the British political system. The British state will shrug off all our rallies and our social media presence UNLESS the power of popular support is being wielded by a political party.

            I always find it amazing that this has to be explained even to people whose support for independence suggests that they might be well aware of how the British political system works.

    • MJ

      “A system that cares little for popular opinion”

      Two referendums on constitutional matters within two years. Not too bad, surely?

          • Peter A Bell

            Unlike you, I am not so arrogant as to presume to know the minds of “the majority of Scots” without asking them. I also recognise that, when circumstances change, rational human being remain open to revising their views. I have no idea what you do.

          • MJ

            You don’t need to be arrogant to note the result of a referendum. Opinions may of course change but there’s little to suggest this has happened to any great extent in Scotland since the referendum.

        • glenn

          How well did that work during the Brexit referendum? Unless you consider that to be of little consequence or interest to the British state/Establishment.

    • Richard Scott

      So – the divide and rule tactics are working, it would appear. Debate is constructive, but disrespect between independence supporters just gives succour to the enemy.

  • Douglas McNeill

    As an exercise in identifying what must be addressed to persuade former no voters I think the survey construction is quite poor. It presents a canned list of topics that is neither complete or mutually exclusive. There is no opportunity to capture why people are scoring, no verbatim. I hope this doesn’t backfire but I fear that it might.

  • Juteman

    Fred says,
    “Scotland is an expensive country when it comes to social welfare. Providing services to remote areas and islands costs more than to people in towns and cities while they have a much lower population density to pay for it. That is just plain common sense and a good reason why Scotland is better off as part of the UK where the costs can be shared with other areas.”

    Norway seems to manage to provide services to remote areas and islands, and has a population similar to Scotland.

  • Joe

    That “national conversation” poll is, I suspect, a way to gather intel on the real number of people who support independence. Based on the results, which I suspect would be a majority of independence, Whitehall will implement an “action plan” to prevent Scottish independence, which will include measures to (once again) rig the vote for a ‘no’ if necessary.

    • Peter A Bell

      At least you make the effort to try and analyse the situation and discern the thinking behind the tactics, rather than simply leaping to the conclusion that it must be wrong. It’s gratifying to see somebody actually thinking about things instead of being overcome by spasms of the knee..

  • fred

    The purpose of the survey is plain enough.

    Go to the survey,, you will see no mention that it is a SNP survey except an very small print right at the bottom, it looks like a government survey.

    Also in the small print at the bottom it says “Privacy and Data Protection” with no indication that is a link. Follow the link and you will see:

    “The SNP may hold your data on a computer database for statistical purposes and contact you about issues you may find of interest using any details you have supplied. ”

    Then it says:

    “You can opt out of some or all contact by writing to us.”

    So you give them your personal details and permission to store it, use it and knock on your door armed with it, with a click but to opt out you must find paper, pen and envelope then go out and buy a stamp. They could have provided a click box on the survey itself.

    It just demonstrates the Nationalist’s contempt for the people of Scotland and determination to further their own agenda against the people’s wishes.

      • Peter A Bell

        Oh yeah! It’s very “sly” the way they come right out and ask for respondents’ contact details. Totally devious!

        FFS! Grow up! The sky is not going to fall just because somebody outside your closed circle of trusted associates manages to get hold of your email address. Pathetic!

        • Bob Smith

          Peter, it is likely this survey breaches the Data Protection act as respondents are not clearly given the option to not have their data used. I just looked at the survey and there is no tick box to opt out of details being used, and it does not say how the data will be used. I think Fred has raised some interesting points that the SNP need to consider. A legal challenge on grounds of data protection could see the exercise descend into an expensive farce. By giving your name, age and postcode your address can easily be identified so I don’t think you can dismiss concerns so easily.

          • Peter A Bell

            I really tried to make sense of your response. Near as I can make out, it’s a call for UDI. That’s not going to happen. Not while other routes are open. So it’s a pointless discussion.

          • Peter A Bell

            I have lost count of the number of time various mouthpieces have asserted that the SNP and or the Scottish Government has acted illegally/improperly, only for the allegations to be thrown out by the relevant authority. This happened just the other day, in fact, when the Tories got all in a state about the very same survey. That they made complete fools of themselves should, perhaps, have served as a warning to you.

            Classic smear tactics. Seen it all before.

          • Jambo

            Utter bollocks Bob as Lib Dems and other parties have used this method for many years now. Like the fatous Tory complaint about not have printers name etc this is just the stuff of nonsence.

            As other posters have stated the British establishment parties are terrified of another Indy Ref and will use any tactic to derail it with the eager compliance of the right wing press.

          • Bob Smith

            Peter and Jambo, I did not know that the Tories had complained. I only saw the survey myself for the first time today and it just seems to be an exercise in data collection. If this is what other political parties do then I think it is equally wrong. A simple tick box allowing respondents to opt out of further contact is not too much to ask for, and having now had time to discuss it with some colleagues, the lack of such an opt out route may well put many off completing the survey. I have no problems with the idea of a survey and I hope the full anonymised data will be shared when it’s complete. I would also like Scots in the rest of the UK given a chance to complete it as their opinion should also matter.
            You are both on a slippery slope if you think that people objecting to the survey in its present form are vassals of the right wing media or anti independence. Indeed, your language and intolerance is one of the reasons so many of us feel just as threatened by the SNP.

          • fred

            @Peter A Bell

            Are you part of the new listening SNP?

            You’re sounding a lot like the old ignore everyone and do as we like SNP to me.

    • Neil Anderson

      No-one is compelled to complete the survey. Are you afraid of having your details on the SNP’s books? Don’t complete the survey. Why is any of this a problem?

      • fred

        So we have a survey to find why people voted No completed almost entirely by people who voted Yes.

        And you don’t see what the problem is?

  • Dave

    Independence wasn’t on offer, the choice was between devolution in UK or devolution in EU. The SNP got away with calling it an “independence” referendum because the Unionists were also pro-EU and didn’t want to highlight that UK wasn’t independent either. But following Brexit Unionists unleashed can point out the fraud behind the SNP “independence” claim.

    To be independent you need at least your own currency and control of borders.

    • Rob Royston

      Exactly, the SNP has to campaign for full Independence from the UK and the EU to be seen as a Freedom movement.

    • David

      Yes of course, no such thing as an independent country in Europe. Greece, Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, Poland, Slovakia, etc., all held in a European Union against their will, really? Is that the general feeling amongst the populations of these countries?

      I include Greece in this list because from what I best understand, despite current issues, the majority of the people of Greece still want to remain in the EU.

      If Scotland wants to leave the EU then fine, I’ll accept that and, having listened to the arguments at that time, I might even be persuaded to vote for it. That question and that decision, however, should be made, in due course, in an independent Scotland.

      • Neil Anderson

        Scotland doesn’t want to leave the EU, neither does N.I. England and Wales do. Haven’t you seen the outcomes of the EU referendum?

        • David

          Neil, I fully understand the EU referendum result and that the vote in Scotland was 68% to remain and I was in that 68%.

    • Peter A Bell

      Every member nation of the EU considers itself to be an independent country. The onus is on you to explain why Scotland must be an exception. Just as unionists must explain why Scotland must be the exception to the normal status of nations.

      • Rob Royston

        Scotland would be an exception because it would continue under a membership that was negotiated by the UK. For example how many quid pro quo’s did our fishing rights earn for the City of London?

        • Peter A Bell

          I’m going to give you a day or two to think about that comment. My suspicion is that it may take you that long to figure out the foolishness of suggesting that independent Scotland would be bound by terms negotiated by what would then be a foreign government.

          Independence is not isolation, but the capacity to FREELY NEGOTIATE the terms on which a nation associates with the rest of the world. It is for you to provide some rational explanation for your determined insistence that Scotland would be an exception to this general rule.

          • Rob Royston

            I don’t need a second to figure out that there is a difference between continued membership, which is the SNP plan, and negotiated new membership which is the only membership I would discuss.

  • Alan reid

    Yes very worrying, I would hate to think that the good life means their just going to sit back and play the Scottish people for fools.

    • Rob Royston

      So good, you said it thrice. Playing the Scottish people for fools, are you kidding? They soon sorted Labour out after, er… er…– sixty years.

  • Thomas Ritchie

    I have never heard so much Tory political bias for a long time. You are all Speaking with your government mouths trying to dissuade people from voting yes again. I find that you are a lot of political haverers speaking on behalf of Mrs May and it is totally embarrassing reading what you say. You certainly cannot defend the sewer rats of Westminster unless you are one of them and you are trying to downplay any reasonable argument for the independence movement. You people just like to stir and confuse.

  • Dave

    If “devolution in EU” is independence, then “devolution in UK” is independence too. I.e. according to the SNP logic, Scotland is already independent!

    • Tony Little

      Nonsense. Independence in the EU (which means Scotland can choose to stay or leave on its own) is not the same as micro-devolution in the UK.

      I’m sure you know the actual difference.


    I think it was Kenneth Roy in the Scottish Review who compared the ‘ Nicola Effect’ with Billy Graham in the 1950’S and Ally Macleod in the 1970S.
    Vast swathes of the Scottish People uniting behind an ideal until reality set in.
    I too am concerned that the professional politicians may consciously or unconsciously destroy the idealism to their own cost.
    Or maybe it’s the ‘Scottish Glorious Failure Gene’ kicking in.

    • Peter A Bell

      If you want to see an example of the ‘Scottish Glorious Failure Gene’ then you need look no further than those who would throw away the chance of restoring Scotland’s independence rather than back the only political party that is capable of being the agency be which we can achieve that goal. People who put notions of the purity of their ideals before the practicalities of actually implementing them. People who prefer honourable failure to the responsibilities of success.

  • Thomas D. Smart

    Those of us who voted Yes in the 2014 election have now been sidelined if we want both BREXIT and independence !
    Independence does not mean being governed by either Westminster or Brussels.
    Many Yes voters may now switch to No unless the ballot paper gives the option to leave both.

    • MJ

      Dead right. Leaving the UK and joining the EU are quite separate issues and efforts to conflate the two should be resisted.

    • Peter A Bell

      You claim to want independence. But you’re happy for the choices of Scotland’s electorate to be overturned by voters in the rest of the UK. Something doesn’t quite add up there. I smell shite!

      • Neil Anderson

        “I smell shite” was EXACTLY the phrase I thought of when I read T. D. Smart’s comment. Did he really vote Yes in the 2014 referendum? Or is that another example of shite?

  • Ian

    Craig, haven’t the EU already rejected the idea that Scotland can stay, while England departs? So the implication is that Scotland will have to negotiate its own accession from a position of zero, not unlike your Polish experience. Nicola might be cautious, but the road ahead is strewn with major hazards and potential disasters, whichever way you slice it, thanks to brexit, possibly the most stupid attempt at populism a tory government has ever engineered. We are in for a long period of upheaval, and there probably is no way Scotland can avoid that, indyref2 or no.

          • nevermind

            indeed Ian and Rajoy was adamant that his party would not support a precedence for a Catalonia Independence declaration.
            Spain will never agree to have its most lucrative heart cut out, but that is not the end of the story.
            That’s why we have bendy politicians and if the Germans want to sell cars in the UK and Spain then the leavers of finance will find exceptions to the rule, it would not be the first time.

            Still, I do not agree with much dithering as you have only as much time as Mrs. May, or may not, will grant you for an Indy ref 2. But if the SNP looks like the brexit camp, with no plans of paddle to go up river, then dithering is what you will get.

            How about talking to the Spanish politicians, a ton of halibut and two of mackerel should do the trick…..
            But seriously you have less than two years to get this show on the road and if the SNP prefers the games that are being played down south, as Peter seems to indicate it does, then Yes voters have duly been used as a key to enter Westmonster.

  • Republicofscotland

    I would say the national conversation, is partly a stalling process, something to keep the grassroots movements occupied, and in my opinion a clever move.

    Some would have us rush in and hold the indyref2 immediately, without having answers to the questions that were basically our downfall in 2014, pensions, currency etc, solid answers, unrefutable answers are required, otherwise it would be a rerun of indyref1, and we all know what happened there.

    The logic in waiting a bit, lies in my opinion, in waiting to see if Brexit is triggered sooner than later. I for one think that the EU leaders will need to show authority, (or other nations will think to leave, means a good deal) and push for a hard deal. Now somewhere along the way the unionist media will have to report that the dis-United Kingdom has lost this or that and that the knock on effect to the economy.

    That will give the SNP, a ideal opportunity to call a quick indyref2, knowning that, the new less favourable information has come to light. Something similar to the outrage felt the day after the Brexit vote.

    Sturgeon is still popular in the polls for “likeability” and Labour are in dissary for the time being, Tory rule looks set to continue for some time, and Theresa May hasn’t included David Mundell in the Brexit talks, so basically Scotland like NI and Wales will be flying blind into Brexit.

    A opportunity will arise, possibly as early as next year to call for indyref2, as long as Brexit is triggered, the fraught negotiations will leave Westminster open to criticism. Lets not act in the manner of Harry Hotspur (Henry Percy) and rush into battle without preperation.

    • Peter A Bell

      Great first paragraph! Then it went ATF.

      The idea that there are irrefutable answers on matters such as currency is total nonsense. One of the undoubted successes of Better Together/Project Fear was some ‘correct’ answer to the question of what currency Scotland would use that the Scottish Government either didn’t have or wouldn’t share. They were very successful at luring Yes supporters into obsessing about questions such as what the currency would be called and what Alex Salmond’s ‘plan B’ was so as to distract them from the questions they should have been asking about the British parties’ insanely irresponsible threat to unilaterally abolish the currency union. Questions such as,

      Who actually came up with this policy, and when?

      Was it discussed in cabinet?

      Was an impact assessment carried out to give an indication of the consequences of the policy for the economy of rUK? And, if it was, what were the results?

      What consultations, if any, were held with the likes of the Bank of England and the Confederation of British Industry? What did these organisations have to say about the policy?

      Barely a handful of us in the Yes campaign were asking such questions of the unionists. And absolutely nobody in the mainstream media was scrutinising the British parties’ position. Barring a brief, brave effort on the part of STV’s Bernard Ponsonby to quiz George Osborne immediately following his ‘Sermon on the Pound’, everybody seemed content to accept the threat without question – including most of the Yes campaign!

      How different it might have been if a few more of us had been pressing for answers to the above questions. How different it might have been if more people had declined to take their cues from the mainstream media and pointed out that there is no ‘correct’ answer on currency. There is no one solution that is absolutely guaranteed to work in all circumstances and for all time. Whatever choice is made in terms of currency – and pretty much everything else – it is not just going to work. It is going to have to be made to work.

      The real question, therefore, is NOT what currency independent Scotland would use, but whether you accept that Scotland is at least as capable of managing its own currency arrangements as any other nation. The position which should be challenged is that which holds that Scotland is NOT capable of managing its own currency arrangements. Instead of dumbly nagging Alex Salmond about his ‘plan B’, we should have been demanding answers from Better Together/Project Fear about their grounds for insisting Scotland must be the exception.

      The problem WAS NOT that we didn’t have the ‘correct’ answers. The problem was that far too many were failing to ask the right questions of the right people

      And that is where we must do things differently in #indyref2. We must turn the whole debate around and force the British nationalists to justify their denial of the sovereignty of Scotland’s people. We must have total confidence in the rightness of our cause while forcing open-minded people on the No side to question their allegiance to an anachronistic and clearly dysfunctional political union.

      And we MUST NOT shy away from giving the SNP administration our solid backing as the political arm of the independence movement EVEN IF WE DO NOT AGREE WITH THEM ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE!

      • Republicofscotland

        “The problem WAS NOT that we didn’t have the ‘correct’ answers. The problem was that far too many were failing to ask the right questions of the right people”


        Firstly Peter, calm down a bit, I’m all for Scottish independence, take a deep breath and count to three.

        In my opinion, Peter with regards to currency, I think the public are mainly concerned with solid facts. Not questions such as, are we capable of running our own currency, of which I’ve no doubts we are.

        People on the streets don’t want to pick up a newspaper or watch tv, and read or see Phil Hammond say Scotland can’t use the pound, that breeds uncertainty. It’s not about “correct answers” on currency it’s about picking one and sticking with it, I prefer a Scottish currency myself.

        That’s why in my opinion solid answers are required, lets keep it simple Peter, if Westminster asks the question, and it will, we must have a credible answer, not a range of possible options.

        • MJ

          “I prefer a Scottish currency myself”

          How fascinating. If you’re going to join the EU however, Scotland’s ‘preferences’ won’t enter into it. The EU will inform Scotland of what currency it must use. It has almost certainly done so already, but the SNP ain’t sayin’.

          • Peter A Bell

            That is wrong in so many ways. Firstly, there is an effective opt-out from the Euro. It is well-known among people who don’t rely on the mainstream media for ‘information’. No! I’m not going to explain it to you. It would do you a lot more good to go and and do a wee bit research yourself.

            Secondly, the idea that the EU has already defined the terms of Scotland’s membership… well.. where to begin with that little gem! I’m afraid the notion of the EU setting out such terms for a nation which not only hasn’t yet applied for membership but isn’t even in a position to do so is just plain idiotic. There’s really no other way to describe it.

          • Republicofscotland


            It’s not fallacious, for the public to get a straight answer (not a range of mibbie aye mibbie naw options) on the currency of a independent Scotland, hoping to stall until the treasury says yes you can use the pound, once independence has been acheived. By then it will have far to late and the voters would’ve (like they did in 2014) due to mostly scare tactics, have voted no.

            It is that exact kind of mentality that led to us to lose indyref 1. We don’t really need to be asking questions of them with regards to Scotland’s economy, as long as we have the answers to the questions the Scottish public pose to us, on pensions, currency, defence etc. That’s where it really matters.

            The White Paper did lay out Scotland’s options.

            If we repeat the “we’ll use the pound it’s Scotland’s as well” mantra, then we’ll lose again.

            “What makes you think I’m not calm? ”

            Your “load of pish” comment, to me anyway, came across as though you were a little bit miffed.

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