Is any of this so surprising? The Hope Not Hate survey merely highlights a trend which has been apparent for some time. It’s helpful to have that trend confirmed. But how helpful depends on how the information is used. How it feeds into the political thinking and strategies of the main players.
The bold thing to do is to try and catch the trend early and ride it to a preferred outcome. The cautious choice is to wait and see how the trend goes before doing anything.
No prizes for guessing which approach is favoured by the SNP. If caution doesn’t win the day in Scotland’s party of government and the de facto political arm of the Yes movement, it’s because hyper-caution has already done so. Rarely has any political party enjoyed so much reason to be confident. Never, I suspect, has cause for confidence had so little visible effect. The SNP behaves as if it is the one facing electoral obliteration and not the British parties.
The trend highlighted by the Hope Not Hate survey is exceptionally strong. Strong enough to be showing dramatic shifts in voter attitudes. This suggests it is unlikely to be a long-term trend. Dramatic swings tend to trigger powerful corrections. Catch the trend too late and you may get caught in the backwash. Wait too long and you miss it altogether.
The SNP seems unwilling to take any risks at all. Not even where there is the possibility of a massive pay-off and little downside. The party is tentatively edging along that fine line between risk aversion and total paralysis. Which is difficult to explain under the circumstances. This is a party which enjoys unprecedented levels of support. And support which has remained remarkably solid for an exceptional length of time. No party in history, I suspect, has seen its opponents in such a state of self-destructive disarray. The power differential between the SNP and the British parties in Scotland is massive.
But you’d never guess any of this from the way the party behaves.
All I’m looking for is a sense of urgency. Scotland’s predicament warrants it. Right now, watching the Scottish Government is like watching firefighters polishing their appliances while your house is ablaze. It’s no wonder that, within the Yes movement, enthusiasm is turning to impatience; impatience to frustration; and frustration to anger. All aggravated by the fact that, with a few notable exceptions, the SNP leadership acts as if the Yes movement doesn’t exist or isn’t worth bothering about.
As I do what little I can to promote the sense of urgency I feel the situation requires, I get a great many clichés thrown at me by people who find them a convenient substitute for thinking. Typical of these is the one about how you should never interrupt your enemy when they are making mistakes. Really?
What happens if you don’t interrupt your enemy while they’re making mistakes? They keep on making mistakes! And if those mistakes are hurting people, people keep on getting hurt. Meanwhile, you’re not taking advantage of those mistakes. Because the cliché says you mustn’t. So, just by thinking about it for a moment, we discover that this is just about the worst advice that could be given to any political campaign.
But it looks very much as if the SNP is heeding just such dreadful advice. The Hope Not Hate survey suggests the party’s opponents are making some whopping great mistakes. And the SNP is declining to take advantage.
If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence movement.