The SNP Must Sell a Radical Vision, not just Managerial Competence 304

I have a confession to make. I kept my opinion of the SNP’s election campaign from you in order not to hurt the SNP during the campaign. I did however express it deep in James Kelly’s comments pages 12 days ago.

Yes, the SNP won the election in Scotland. 35 out of 59 seats is a clear majority. The Tories only have 13 Scottish seats. That is just 21% so there is no sense in which the Tories “won” Scotland. Do not believe the media lies.

But it remains the case that Theresa May is only able to cling on to No.10 because of the gains the Tories made from the SNP in Scotland. That is shameful and must be squarely faced.

There is a vital truth here. Support for Independence itself remains at almost exactly the same level as it was in 2015 when the SNP swept to 56 seats. Many opinion polls measured support for Independence during the campaign and their range was 42% to 54% for Independence.

So the SNP fall in MPs was not because of a drop in support for Independence. It was rather because the SNP failed the cause of Independence. Specifically they failed even to seek to present a radical and transformative view of what an Independent Scotland might look like.

In 2015 the SNP vote almost exactly equated to the level of support for Independence. Now the SNP vote underperforms Independence support by 10%.

This is not unfortunate. It is an entirely foreseeable consequence of a deliberate and wrong decision by the SNP leadership. They never once, at any time, made the case for Independence during the election campaign. Rather they fell straight into the trap laid by the unionists, of defending their government record in Holyrood.

Scotland’s lack of Independence leads to a constant drain on our resources in a massively London-centric economy. Our money is sucked down there and much of our best talent leaves to work in UK-HQ corporations and ministries based there. That is a different argument to the equally vital one that we are tied in to a neo-liberal austerity programme that prevents us from growing our economy, and to a number of completely inappropriate policies including on immigration.

Bound hand and foot by these constraints, the SNP has struggled at Holyrood – with very great skill – to manage matters as best they can to mitigate the Tory damage in Scotland, within the limited resources they are allowed. But this is utterly different to the situation if Scotland were an independent country and Holyrood a real parliament, and not what it actually is – a glorified regional council.

In this situation, where everything is stacked to ensure its failure, the SNP strategists boneheadedly accepted to fight on the enemy’s chosen ground. What the SNP offered in this election in no way stirred the blood, not even of their own supporters. The SNP did not mention the struggle for national freedom or the kind of country we will build if Independent. It rather attempts to win the support of the Scottish people by offering competent managerialism. “Don’t be scared, we are not nasty nationalists, we are harmless technocrats” is the line.

I hope the hard lesson of this election has been learned. You cannot manage Scotland with competence within the madhouse which is the Tory UK. You are on a hiding to nothing explaining that you can.

Yes it is indeed true that the media unfairly and deliberately, in every interview with Nicola Sturgeon, honed in on devolved matters irrelevant to a Westminster election. That was wrong of the media. But Sturgeon happily wandered around in their labyrinthine trap for long periods, providing lengthy and rational ripostes on educational attainment for 7 year olds. Above all, she emphasised it was not her who wanted to talk about a second referendum, it was that Ruth Davidson.

Sturgeon hotly denied she wanted to talk about Independence at all, saying only the Unionists kept bringing it up. It was a clever debating society point, but by refusing to make the case for Independence – and by appearing to concede it was a difficult area for her – Sturgeon was damaging the Independence cause and ultimately the SNP.

What Nicola Sturgeon should have done is the precise opposite of what she did do.

She should have taken every precious moment of TV time to outline the positive case for Independence, to declare her determination to achieve Independence, and to achieve it within the next Westminster parliament. She should have slammed Trident and slammed the British kowtowing to Saudi Arabia and to Donald Trump, and stated that Scotland should be an independent country with its own foreign and defence policy. She should have slammed austerity and Tory cuts and said that Scotland needs to be an independent country with its own economic policy that will look after its struggling, its disabled and its aged. She should have slammed Brexit and stated it is going to destroy the Scottish economy, and that Scotland needs to be an independent country within the EU.

Sturgeon did refer to all of these policy areas. But her entire dialogue was framed around how they should be tackled within a devolution settlement. Independence was almost entirely avoided as something that might scare the horses.

Much of The SNP campaign echoed the Tories in spin doctored meaninglessness. The pictures of activists holding up placards saying “Stronger for Scotland”, and repetition of the constant mantra about strengthening Nicola Sturgeon’s hand in talks, was just a mirror image of Theresa May. I find it worrying in principle and it was as electorally counterproductive as I knew it would be.

Nicola Sturgeon adopted a deliberate policy of being all things to all men. She ran a campaign designed to say the SNP can attract the votes of unionists and the votes of Brexiteers. She attempted a “mother of the whole country” routine. Putting out the message that anybody can vote SNP because it doesn’t believe in anything much, it is just competent. This was incredibly stupid. It did not work and it did not deserve to.

Anyone can see that there is a worldwide mood of insurgency against the neo-liberal establishment. The fantastic Yes street campaign was absolutely a part of that. Corbyn has grabbed that mood and ran an inspired insurgency campaign. A great many Independence supporters – including some of my family – voted Labour yesterday to support the Corbyn insurgency, after being active members of the Yes insurgency. They still support Independence.

But in an age of insurgency politics, for the SNP to choose to run its entire election campaign on the basis of being a safe managerial political establishment for Scotland, was such a crass decision that it beggars belief. Many radicals went to Labour, while many of those who do like a comfortable political establishment decided they would rather have the real Tory version.

I greatly fear that the SNP will now compound the error by backing away from the second referendum and pushing Independence even further to the back-burner. The SNP needs to do the opposite. It needs to rediscover the Spirit of Independence and reconnect to the Scottish people. And it needs to sack the great raft of highly paid, besuited, professional spin doctors and political advisers I see going in and out of SNP HQ every day (I live next door). They look indistinguishable from their New Labour and Tory cousins and are a class of people the Independence movement really does not need.

One little anecdote. I have a large balcony overlooking Dynamic Earth, in a very prominent position and busy area. I wandered in to SNP HQ to see if they could give me a really big banner or poster to put up. The place was absolutely crammed with besuited spin doctors talking earnestly to each other and very much looking down their noses at me, resenting my intrusion into their space. They had hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of spin doctors, but no poster bigger than a tiny A3. That says it all for me.

I voted for Tommy Sheppard. I did so with pride and I am delighted he is back in. After a period of semi-detachment from the SNP, I am going to be more active inside it to argue for a much more radical and definite attachment to Independence upfront and at all times. And to make sure that the SNP is a quick route to Independence, and not just a quick route to a political class career path. In practice, building any other vehicle than the SNP to carry forward the Yes movement would be almost impossible.

As an institution in itself, the SNP is a very successful institution. There is no denying it. But as a vehicle for actual Independence, it is stationary with the handbrake on, and as a vehicle for radicalism its battery is flat and it has become positively inert. But let’s not abandon it, let’s try a push start.

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304 thoughts on “The SNP Must Sell a Radical Vision, not just Managerial Competence

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  • Andrew Young

    “After a period of semi-detachment from the SNP, I am going to be more active inside it to argue for a much more radical and definite attachment to Independence upfront and at all times.”

    I wholeheartedly endorse that decision. We need wise council now more than ever, and I doubt I would be alone in hoping that you follow through. Your experience, and knowledge, would only be invaluable in any debate, and as great as a popular blog is, direct involvement in the debate inside the party has to be preferable in terms of exerting a positive influence amongst the pols.

    I wish you the best of success in whatever you decide to do, but for all our sakes I hope you will continue to lend your considerable voice to the debate on whatever level you feel is appropriate.

    Many thanks for bringing much needed clarity to difficult issues

  • SA

    Another conundrum here. It appears to me that May had an eye on the SNP in calling this election. She felt that Labour was beyond saving and would be a walkover and therefore focussed on the SNP. Sad to say that Sturgeon has been outmaneuvered here by an early declaration of the possibility of an early 2nd Independence referendum based on Brexit. The Tories found it easy to convert this as the most important issue in Scotland. Of course the sleight of hand here is that nobody expected May to call an early election as she had repeatedly said she wouldn’t have one. And now the 13 Tory MPs in Scotland will help to prolong the agony of May clinging to power, as a figure of around 300 Tory MPs would have completely changed the parliamentary arithmetic and may have even led to a Corbyn government. Maybe a lesson for the future.

    • Frank Kemp


      If she can pressure the Tories to a soft Brexit then Indeyref2 is off the table.

      Independence is not the issue. What’s best for Scotland is the issue.

  • Steve P

    You have hit the nail right on the head with this post, Craig. The Scottish independence party that doesn’t want to talk about independence. Dare I say it, but maybe some of the party both in Holyrood and at WM are quite content just being part of the (Scottish) UK political establishment. And the longer this continues to be the case, the more likely it is they will head down the path of SLAB where they become hated by the electorate and never understand why. Your references to spin doctors and analysts hanging about SNP HQ points to a party manufacturing manicured messages for party interest rather than being driven by a wider popular, public movement; again very SLAB.
    The real worry is, which is the point you’re making, if there was an Indyref called tomorrow, the SNP wouldn’t have answers to any of the issues that weakened the SNP’s Indyref pitch first time round.
    If the SNP is not going to be unashamedly pushing forcefully for independence at every turn, then, what are they for?

  • bjsalba

    I must disagree. Right now we have a Government in London that has a Radical Vision. It sucks., because its vision is to strip this country and people of its wealth and stash it in Tax Havens in the accounts of the elite.

    I want a competent middle-of-the-road government that works for the majority of the people. In some ways that is radically different from what we have now, but it will never be as sexy and glamorous as a far-right distopia or or far-left utopia.

    • Stu

      You don’t seem to realise that the country has shifted so far to the right that strong redistributive measures are required to prevent a disaster.

      All a “middle-of-the-road government” will achieve is to slow down the drift to the right that is driven by capital regardless of who is in power. Radical measures are now a necessity.

  • Iain MacGillivray

    Absolutely spot on the mark…well thought out and said. It was an insipid camapign, played on the oppositions turf and terms. A long slow trudge south – where the numbers will rapidly drop off, not the right approach at all in my opinion.

    They, and she, should have been shouting the outrage at Brexit, at Arms deals, at Austerity. They should also not make Independence the elephant in the room. It is after all their sole purpose. Here’s a thought, Ruth D’s mantra and only manifesto point was Say No to IndyRef2, well why not meet it head on and say ok Ruth why not, and what about your parties record in government on all the above.

    NS completely fell into the trap of looking weak while defending the Scottish Governments record on devolved issues, she should have moved the debate on, but there’s that elephant in the corner, so she backed off. Bad strategy I feel, although we know she is playing a longer game, and that is where the danger lies.

    Compare this week with the euphoria during and after last week’s march. That energy has to be harnessed, channelled and allowed to spread, not tamped down.

    Lose the spin doctors and that awful mirroring of TM’s Stronger For BS…

    Unleash the Elephant, let’s get trampling…

  • Alistair Rendall

    To be fair, there was no warning of this coming, and not exactly much time to develop a strategy, while it seems clear to me the the pro-union side had bedded theirs in long before. Had they tried to push the case as you describe it they’d have been in similar great difficulty, because the strategy for independence is not there yet, it would have been a rerun on all the weak points from 2014.

    Some damage has been done to the snp here, there’s no doubt about that, but it certainly can be repaired. If the case for independence is won over the next couple of years, then so will the case for a referendum. We need to look very hard at the data on opinions on brexit too. Voters in the north east in particular need to be listened to. We may now need to seriously consider accepting that EU membership is just as polarising a subject for potential yes voters as it is for every other constituency in Europe. We need to look seriously at accepting we are out, and understanding just how controversial or otherwise the EFTA route would be with the europhiles amongst us. I am probably more pro-EU than anyone else I know, and for me, in the circumstances we find ourselves, I would be quite satisfied by it. Europe must be taken out of the argument, it kills every cause, and every party that takes a side. Only a broad compromise that is acceptable all round can avoid this, I believe.

    We need to nail down currency, hard. This, and no other part of the case can be dependent on agreement from rUK.

    Cooling off on pressing for a referendum itself, over the next year or so is no bad idea. Focus now needs to be on creating a case that the majority can support. There must be a stable platform on which to build and that means addressing all the well understood weaknesses first. Take them out of the equation, and with a backdrop of a UK having entirely lost the plot, we should then be making the case about what we want independence for, and that’s your radical bit right there.

  • Terence callachan

    SNP held back because they expected the BBC and MSM to lie about what an independent Scotland can achieve so rather than take that fight on in a U.K. General election they took a middle road of trying to be all things to all people which as you rightly say is an impossibility.
    A majority want Scottish independence and want the presentation of Scotlands future as an independent nation put out into the open with clear statements saying we will not have trident or any other nuclear missiles we will not have austerity we will have a much higher minimum wage and we will tax those who are wealthy at a higher rate we will have more immigration and we will be in EU and we will have regular referendums so the people can choose to leave UE in future if they want to or strengthen their EU membership if they want to by for example joining the euro we will have referendums on things like increasing green energy land reform housing programmes local government and helping people properly to get off drug and alcohol addiction and much much more this is what the masses in Scotland want and need and if the richest people and businesses want our resources they will have to accept all of this and more .
    Modern forward looking with a determination to improve the lives of those in Scotland who at present have so little and live a very difficult life made worse by seeing rich people showing off their riches and telling them that they will decide how Scotland will be run as a country, well that is going to change, Scotland is a talented wealthy country and the majority of us are taking control back from the rich minority ,if they don’t like it they tough, we are the majority and what we say ,goes.

  • reel guid

    Many people still don’t realise the enormous downside to leaving the EU. The media has barely explored the subject. So much so that it was relegated to being almost a side issue in the election north and south of the border. Just another example of how ridiculous the UK state now is.

    Once the details of brexit start to come out. When it becomes clear it’ll cost a lot of jobs in Scotland. When rural voters who voted Leave and voted Tory realise how much will be lost by the removal of EU funded projects. Lost opportunities for businesses. Then we’ll see how much support there is to keep Scotland in the EU.

    Combine the SNP and Liberal Democrat seats and the voters of Scotland returned 39 MPs out of 59 who still oppose brexit.

    The situation will keep changing rapidly and many people who are not fussed about an indyref now will be clamouring for one when they realise leaving the EU is not as straightforward as an individual resigning from a club.

    • reel guid

      Norway, with similar mineral resources and population to Scotland, are so wealthy they can virtually do what they like. No wonder the McCrone Report had to be suppressed by Westminster.

        • Salford Lad

          Norway ring fenced its oil wealth to maintain its manufacturing industry and maintain employment. A budget defict is desirable,it means there is investment in an economy and benefits the private and export sectors.
          The alternative would have been similar to a banana republic.operating and depending on a single susceptible industry, at the mercy of the winds and tides of oil price fluctuations.

  • Republicofscotland

    I’d just like to say a big thank you to all those Scots who voted for the Tories in Scotland. Your vote has allowed Theresa May to link up with the DUP, a party that once had links to loyalists paramilitary organisations.

    Take a bow, I hope you’re proud of yourselves.

  • Jamieboy

    The ecstasy I felt at Hampden park yesterday was incredible but even with two minutes left on the clock I looked at my pals and we all knew what was coming before Kane hammered the point home and the hordes bellowed Rule Britania. We lack confidence as a nation. Twenty years of knocking on doors in the schemes and private estates – they want to believe you, you can see it in their eyes, but it’s the fear and sense of inferiority that overrules their mind. We need a sense of nationhood like the Irish which transcends class and demographic. This builds confidence. Yes it’s much better now – my bairns got Burns and Bruce at school whilst all I got was Queen Lizzie. Nicola needs to talk this nation up , extol the great natural and human resources of this nation rather than try and fashion a Labour party mark 2 , stop silly name calling and squabbling and hammer home how INDEPENDECE is something transformative and will create pride and confidence with our people. An outward looking European nation with a Scandanavian social conscience ( I genuinely believe most Scots feel this way ) and economic go ahead of the Irish.

  • Douglas

    Thanks Craig,
    I joined the SNP just after Brexit, before that I had found it easier to argue YES without having to wade through a barrage of SNP Bad. I agree that we need to be less apologetic about Independence and more direct about the importance of the principal. YES is not a balance sheet, it is a moral choice to take responsibility. This does mean that the case should not hinge on a huge data battle. The NO side will always find ‘unanswered questions’, trying to give a complete blueprint is a mistake -there never will be a consensus on every detail…

    Regarding the recent election, I think the SNP was damaged by an unprepared campaign but also by having principles:

    1. Refusal to rule out another referendum allowed the unionists to attack but was an important principal. We would be in a much worse position if we had 50 seats but had ruled out a referendum. The leadership tried to explain this but maybe something simple like:
    ‘Brexit is steering for an iceberg. Now is not the time to burn the life jackets’ might have got the point across.

    In retrospect if we had known that a snap election would be held, a delay in seeking a Section 30 order would have been better but at the time there was huge pressure from Independence supporters to get on with it.

    2. Attempting to fight the election on the subject that it should have been about (what MPs actually do) rather than dealing with the muddled waters:
    a) Local Council issues -if SNP are in power and you don’t like the bin collections and schools then vote us out (by the way many of you now have pan unionist coalitions, let’s see how that works).
    b) Holyrood issues -we’re not perfect but have done well enough to show that Scots can actually run these things despite very limited powers. When we get Independence we will manage better.
    c) Independence. Yup… we do want that, what part of SNP don’t you understand?

    Losses were inevitable. Managerialism could have saved some seats by ‘burning the life jackets’ but thankfully for Scotland principle won out.

    I hope that your words will encourage our party to be bolder, the time is coming soon when the wider YES movement will have a huge showdown with the forces of NO

  • Alan Crerar

    Couldn’t agree more.
    I hand painted my own field sign (the ‘official’ ones were too small), and the candidate leaflet was a waste of trees. Stopped watching any politics on TV. Nothing there to see. Glad you intend to get more involved. I am an SNP foot-soldier and have been happy to do as I am told, leafletting, canvassing, toeing the line even when we KNEW it was a mistake. They have that the wrong way round. They need to do what WE say.

  • Malcolm morrison

    Been my thoughts exactly plenty have said it too but the messiah like behavioural traits of many snp supporters has been nothing short of bigotry like packs of little sheep on facebook making even a small critisism bring them out in droves whilst i applaud those members being loyal to the cause in reality they arent loyal to their party or politics in general. Its easy for them to forget that when you make the choice to vote for any party they are accountable to you the voter not themselves my honest opinion is that the only way forward is for the snp to have more integrity be more open to dialougue and actually listen to people. Instead of attacking them at every opportunity. Time for the snp to regroup dont kick internal problems into the long grass . you want our votes step up to what the founding fathers of the party believed in INDEPENDENCE !! No the wishy washy politics of establishment uk work for the people of Scotland .

  • Jane McLaughlin

    Agree with almost everything you have written except I don’t think Independence should be in the forefront until the SNP get the message out that they have to work to the budget dictated by Westminster and also that they have to manage local councils’ misuse of ringfenced funding such as funding for Raising Attainment e.g. £8.8 million to NLC for this purpose and they tell primary school heads to use it to pay existing ASNs or lose them. Ticks 2 boxes for the labour council
    1) doesn’t raise attainment – SNP fail
    2) salaries for existing staff – Unions happy
    They need to let the public know that there are political opponents seeking to find ways of making SNP policies fail no matter what effect it has on the electorate. Yes it’s a delicate area but hopefully this can be done by saying they are looking at ways to make sure ringfenced funding cannot be used for political gain and goes directly to the targetted recipient area. They can then give an example.
    Oh and – goodness me Tory councillors supporting labour councillors where the SNP are the party with the majority – it’s just wrong. Local politics can have a very big effect on national politics.

  • Stu

    The SNP will be praying there isn’t another election as in many of the seats they won voters who weren’t smart enough to realise which party to tactical vote for against them won’t make the mistake again.

    Strangely the media lies about Tory success in the council elections highlighted by Craig may actually have saved the SNP a quite a few seats in the central belt where a lot of voters obviously believed that voting Tory was the correct anti independence vote in majority working class seats where the SNP only narrowly beat Labour. If 20% of Tory voters transfer to Labour in those seats then the SNP could be wiped out.

  • Marilyn Work

    I so get what you are saying about the spin doctors. I have almost had it with the SNP. Something I never thought I would say since being a member since 1972 and an activist since 1968. It seems that since we came to power in Scotland that the spin doctors have taken over to the detriment of ordinary members. From stacking our conference agenda with resolutions from MSP’s and ignoring branch resolutions, to this whole women’s thing where you have to accept a woman candidate regardless of whether she is the best candidate or not. Now, I am a woman and I have no problems with a woman candidate, I have been one myself, but I really hate being told by HQ that I have to accept a woman candidate simply because she is a woman. If you truly want to have equality for women candidates then do something that will give them the chance to stand and shine instead of just pushing them on a branch. Give all women in the party the advantage of being able to stand instead of only some of them. My husband is a 10 year sitting councillor for a ward in Edinburgh. At the last council elections it was decided, badly I might add, that we would stand two candidates. HQ decided that we had to have a woman candidate. She was worse than useless and did more or less nothing during the campaign except turn up at the count. During the elections I got election emails from the party and on clicking on a link I was told where and how I should vote. I was told to vote for my husband first and the female candidate second. Now that fell in line with what the branch had decided. That changed with only one week to go till the elections. My husband was emailed by someone in the ward who told him that he had been told by HQ to vote for the female candidate 1st and my husband second. On checking this out my husband was horrified to find that HQ actually told him to vote for our female candidate first and only vote for himself second and this was a 10 year sitting councillor that HQ should have been backing. We as a branch complained to HQ en mass but sadly no-one bothered to reply to us. HQ seems to think that councillors should just do what they are told. I have seen time and time again my husband getting an email from HQ that says, ‘Cancel everything. Nicola is coming tomorrow.’ Now he cannot just cancel everything. Most council meetings are scheduled weeks in advance because it is not just the Councillors who need to be there but people who are raising issues. So I wholeheartedly agree with you. Our spin doctors need to go or at least be put on a leash and told that the ordinary members are far more important than they are.

  • Mary Murphy

    Yes i can see what you say now. However it is forked tongued interviewers who make it impossible for SNP candidates to get their points out when they are being belittled with their usual taunting and goading barrage of “answer the question.” They are too polite and do as their ordered. Hence they cannot manipulate a superior (hate to say it but it is true) skilled interviewer who has had decades of bbc bias selective type training. Their ingrained superior attitude slices through normal modes of speech. Not many of us have that vile thrust that these mouthpieces of establishment seem so natural in. Voters must be able ro see that interviewers are not driven by consciece or emotions. They are.driven by self interest. This means that the actual argument or point means nothing to them. They are trained to deliver their despicable rhetoric for a living. Remember politicians who care are more concerned with being humane to people they meet so they are immediately at a disadvantage. Lets learn to depise the interviewer who assasinates a good person who is trying to help people for a living.

  • John macneill

    I completely agree with you .
    I elieve there are other issues that also need addressed to improve the credibility that has been slowly away from the party and losing the faith of electors.
    1 . Currently it is a one woman band . NIcola is not as popular as she appears to think she is . She seems to be the one person who can speak for the party . Is she frightened of rivals? There are many capable MPs not getting a chance to shine and the party reap the benefit of their outstanding abilities to win the arguement for independence . You mention Tommy Sheppard , a clear example .Mhari Black another.
    2. Many of the cabinet members at HOlyrood are in positions beyond their abilities and the electorate can see that . The result is Nicola’ government is not competent now in many areas so trying to claim and show they are ,as a step to wards independence , is not working . FOr example health – for example Shona Robinson . The first minister is showing far too much loyalty to her friend.also ANgelina Constance . MAckay at finance is a liability as well- not impressing anyone , except Nicola it seems . John Swinney is boring the electorate .
    3. The party is no nearl radical enough . Plenty of radical talk and moans , but no action . IF this is not addressed then at the next election I believe many more will switch back to labour to give jeremy corbyn a chance to imp,emended his radical manifesto . I may well be one of them unless things change

    • Stu

      They must be bold at Holyrood. They have been very small c conservative and have introduced or tried to introduce some appalling policies: Air passenger duty cut, football bill, corroboration, named person, the centralisation of the Police and the crackdown on motorists that followed (but which seems to have ended), stop and search, cowardly land reform and the various public transport shambles.

      They need some bold social policies which mark them out as a government with a vision. Right now they are acting more like a council than a government.

      My worry with the SNP is that they are very light weight and have no real intellectual tradition or ideology which underwrites them. There are signs that they are already falling into New Labour style managerial politics and I have very little confidence that would be able to fend of the exploitative forces which would focus on Scotland should we gain independence. Their position on corporation tax and the relationship with Trump indicates they would do very badly at it.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    “Sell a radical vision” is management bollocks, straight from the Blair lexicon. Like “transformational change”. Beware, Craig, lest the system infect you. And eschew jargon in straplines, please.

  • Ian McCubbin

    Very well out Craig. This is the feeling amongst half of activists in Strathtay and Dunkeld Branch. So we have asked for a big open yes meeting to hear views and take stock and move to a tougher stance on many of points you raise here. I think also SNP should try to get Sin Fein to take up seats in Westminster.
    We cannot win without getting back to politics of Yes

    • Jo

      If you seriously think the SNP will persuade Sinn Fein to take their seats in London you are deluded.

  • Mark Rowantree

    I agree wholeheartedly with your analysis Craig. I too pulled my punches, during the campaign. In addition, I have to confess that I too got caught up in the fight and probably got carried away with it too.
    The SNP leadership must rapidly adjust to the new political reality: in particular the Corbyn effect, which proves the truism of MacMillan’s famous dictum of events.
    I too took on board Robin MacAlines article about the need for the pro-independence movement to be radical.
    Perhaps, the one lucky thing for the SNP is that Scot Lab despite whatever cartwheels they attempt to perform are probably more perturbed about the popularity of Corbyn’s ideas than anyone else.
    Much as Corbyn personally appeals to me, when push comes to shove he is very much a Unionist. The task of the SNP will be to exploit these contradictions, whilst at the same time offering UK Labour co-operation and support in the destruction of the Satanic Cons-DUP alliance.

  • reel guid

    In 2015 there was a reaction to Westminster’s duplicity in not fulfilling The Vow made in indyref1 and this helped the SNP vote. Added to which they had a new and younger leader who had voter appeal in the Central Belt. the Lib Dems were at a low after being in coalition with the Tories. Labour were still offering the same old neoliberal policies with a particularly uncharismatic leader in Ed Miliband. This helped the SNP gain the unusually high 50% vote which hardly any other political parties in Europe can attain in elections.

    In the 2017 election there was the Corbyn factor persuading many pro-independence young Scots to lend Labour their vote. The Liberal Democrats had done some penance for the Cameron collaboration. The SNP had reached the psychologically tricky 10 years in government at Holyrood. And the SNP were going in to the election on the necessary but controversial policy of a second indyref. The Scottish Tories were running an energetic and well funded campaign. The SNP were never going to get near 50% in the vote given all these factors.

    To keep it all in perspective. If the 2015 and 2017 elections had been held under a PR voting system then the SNP would have had 29 MPs in 2015 and 23 MPs in 2017. A loss of six seats and a bad election. But not outwith the normal up and down range that major parties always experience.

    An election is only ever a snapshot of who people wanted to vote for on one particular day. Already there are people who are publicly regretting voting Tory because of the DUP deal. There will be many voters in Scotland in a different mood when the details and repercussions of brexit fully bite. And Labour policy is to keep Scotland in the UK and take Scotland out the European single market.

    There is really no evidence that Scotland has become less inclined to having a second indyref. The people who are against it make a lot of noise, as is their right. The people inclining towards having one and inclining towards voting Yes in it are quieter and awaiting those brexit details. Nicola Sturgeon could hardly have come out the day after the election and put these people off by sounding fanatical and calling stridently for a second indyref.

    There will still have to be a referendum to decide what Scotland wants to democratically do about the mess that is brexit and the dismal mess that is the UK state.

  • Jo

    This has been an interesting thread. I contributed early on and have followed other comments since but remain unconvinced by those who urge the SNP to up the emphasis on independence and indyref2.

    My concern is that if we do face yet another GE soon things could get even worse for the SNP.

    While I realise that many here see the 2015 GE results and the Holyrood elections in Scotland as an endorsement for indyref2 I disagree with that assessment. On the independence issue itself the only official record held on that is from the 2014 referendum on that specific subject. 55% voted NO and this was a powerful weapon for the other Parties (and the media) when, post the Brexit vote, indyref2 was thrown into the mix.

    I feel compelled to remind people again that before Nicola did that she’d made an excellent speech at Holyrood in response to the Brexit vote and, incredibly, won backing from Labour and the Lib Dems, leaving Davidson isolated. I felt that was an extraordinary achievement. As soon as indyref2 was brought in, however, that consensus was lost. I remain sad about that. We will never know how much progress could have been made on Scotland’s behalf had Nicola harnessed that cross Party support to fight our corner against May’s appalling arrogance in ignoring us.

    I do not believe the SNP has governed here with only independence in mind. I think it governed responsibly and so I was alarmed to read on this thread one view that domestic policy is irrelevant, that only independence matters. Had Salmond taken such an approach the SNP would never have won a second term! Education is vitally important. So is Health! Housing! Transport! To adopt an indifferent approach to any of these would be suicidal not to mention reckless.

    I say all of this as someone who voted YES. I say it having observed, even before the results last week, signs that indyref2 had created serious issues for the SNP this time and they were going to get hurt. By the time Thursday came around I shared with other SNP acquaintances my view that they could lose as many as twenty seats. If anyone doubts the role indyref2 played in the losses last week then try counting the number of times you heard Kez, Davidson and Rennie screaming we’d already voted two years ago and didn’t want to do it again. Quotes like, “Once in a generation/lifetime” were hurled at Nicola. Quotes like, “You still haven’t sorted the currency question!” Quotes like, You said you’d want 60% support before you’d risk another vote!”

    Davidson’s gains last week all came from the indyref2 issue. Davidson had no challenges to face from that revolting Tory manifesto. Indyref2 won her campaign THIRTEEN seats. Other seats were only just won by the SNP. Stephen Gethins won by just TWO votes.

    I recognise that those here, including Craig, are genuine in their quest for independence but I don’t believe you are seeing clearly what has just happened. I don’t think it is defeatist to sound alarm bells. I think we should be alarmed indeed.

    Those who want to see the SNP go the UDI route alarm me even more. The consequences of such a move don’t bear thinking about.

    There is a lot of work to do. There are uncertain times ahead. There could even be another GE within weeks! There is still Brexit. Mostly, however, there’s the loss of all those seats to consider and the reasons why. Nicola has a great deal to think about even after “winning” in Scotland last week. I for one am glad she intends to take the time to do just that.

  • Jean Brown

    I agree. The SNP has forgotten all about masses who joined during the Referendum. I begged that they be given a role. That their energy be harnessed. What did we get? Eva Peron in tartan and high heels. It’s time for the SNP to resume its role as a democratic campaigning movement, not a bureaucratic machine always begging for money. Plus, the big faces are all getting a bit too incestuous now. It doesn’t look right and some of the partners are really not up to the job. New blood is needed. It’s all beginning to look as phoney as one of these crazy American television evangelical churches!

  • Abulhaq

    The SNP has turned what ought to the most exciting thing in our country’s modern history into something rather boring. The SNP’s current style lacks panache, brio and passion. Instead of standing out it blends into the political wallpaper. The party appears ‘too Westminster’, too easily bogged down in the anorak stuff most find tedious. Independence is the star, it must be returned to centre stage and into the spotlight.
    Opposition to independence, mostly irrational, psychological and sentimental must be challenged and countered by sustained rational argument. Are we Scots less able to govern ourselves and deal with the world than Slovenes, Icelanders, Irish or Danes? They might well regard such a question as fatuous, if not thoroughly insulting. How far we have fallen!

    • Ba'al Zevul

      Hang on. Aren’t you arguing that the SNP needs to be more emotionally appealing and less boring, while deploring the opposition to independence for being emotionally based and not boring enough? OK, it’s possible you didn’t intend it to read that way, but surely there comes a point when the enthusiasm of political youth has to give way to boring realities and a functional administration. If you haven’t done a term as a community councillor, I’d suggest you do so to see at first hand the difficulty in sustaining the excitement of campaigning and election in practice.

      There are conditions involved in promising people the moon, and one of them is a working spaceship. Rocket science is actually pretty boring, until the moment of ignition, but the tedious work is necessary.

      • Abulhaq

        Your reply is suggestive of the problem the independence cause has. We know the independence vehicle works because other states, far less ‘venerable’ than Scotland, enjoy its benefits. We are stuck with an old crock because we seem obsessed with the means rather than the goal. Time we all got on board. What do we want insurance? Viewed from the outside Scots can appear like a nation of timewasters or tim’rous besties. Travel broadens the perceptions on that score.

        • Ba'al Zevul

          On the contrary, the independence movement, IMO having got popular interest in the goal, is paying far too little attention to the means. What are you proposing to ‘get on board’? Errr, “independencewhendowewantit? Now!” Economic reforms? Manufacturing? Meaningful talks with EU so you don’t have to be frighteningly independent but just a bit independent? Etc et boring c?

    • fred

      “Opposition to independence, mostly irrational, psychological and sentimental must be challenged and countered by sustained rational argument.”

      Like the rational argument that England is conservative and Scotland is socialist? The argument that Britain has nil chance of electing a Labour government for decades to come? The argument that Scotland would forever have a Conservative government imposed on them by English voters?

      There are no rational arguments left for independence.

  • Frank Kemp


    If she can pressure the Tories to a soft Brexit then Indeyref2 is off the table.

    Independence is not the issue. What’s best for Scotland is the issue.

    • Ba'al Zevul

      Actually, yes, up to a point – a more general point. Some blue water between Scots Tories, and English Tories is probably constructive, ditto Labour, ditto Libdem. The two countries’ interests and abilities do not always converge, and any recognition of that could counter the SNP. And provide choices closer to those of the individual.

      • Ba'al Zevul

        In fact everything would be a lot more interesting and politically diverse if all the Scots parties were separately run from their English/Welsh equivalents. As is already effectively the case in NI.

    • Brianfujisan

      well the dug did do.. but they could not have done so without the corrupt bbC.. just like indyreff 2014

    • fred

      So how many new cycle lanes is Patrick Harvie going to get for not fielding candidates in SNP marginals then?

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