AltIndy parties: What will they actually DO?

Ballot box

The other day on Twitter I was involved in an exchange a ‘highly committed’ (euphemism!) proponent of the alternative pro-independence list parties that are currently sprouting like the magic mushrooms their proponents must be guzzling. I put a question to this individual. Supposing one or two of these AltIndy (gotta call them something!) candidates managed to get themselves elected, I asked. What would they actually do for the cause of restoring Scotland’s independence. Three or four times I asked. I still await an answer.

This is not surprising. Because by thinking it through it becomes obvious that these AltIndy MSPs could actually do absolutely nothing for Scotland’s cause. They would serve no purpose whatever. It’s a bit of a stretch to imagine any of them getting elected. But even if they manage this miraculous feat, they will be totally pointless.

There has been no shortage of criticism of the AltIndy parties. I’ve done a fair bit myself. Here and here, for example. Some commentators have demolished the arithmetic by which the AltIndy party enthusiasts insist it’s a win-win situation. They can do miraculous things without any possibility of unfortunate consequences should the miracle go the way of all other miracles. The stuff they’re selling is powerful enough to clean the rugby club toilets while being safe enough for babies to drink.

Other critics have addressed various aspects of the AltIndy parties’ cunning plans. The danger of splitting the pro-independence vote, for example. Or the risk involved in an election message which, whatever it is meant to say, will be heard as saying that it’s OK not to vote SNP. There is no way to ensure this ‘mishearing’ of the message is confined to the regional ballot. It will inevitable spill over onto the constituency ballot. And the consequences of that could be catastrophic. Then there’s the massive logistical problem of persuading voters to all vote for the same AltIndy party. The share of the vote far all combined is unlikely to be more than 5%-7%. If that is shared among all the AltIndy parties it could be enough to cost the SNP vital seats. Perhaps even to cost us the pro-independence majority.

But these are the other criticisms. They have all been gone over numerous times by myself and others. To the best of my knowledge, no AltIndy party enthusiast has yet responded meaningfully to any of these criticisms. Just as with mine. As far as I am aware I am the only person to have inquired what an elected AltIndy party MSP would do in relation to the independence cause. What would they do to advance that cause? What could they do?

To answer this question, I consider possible – credible – post-election parliamentary arithmetic scenarios and asked what our AltIndy MSP would do in each case. Not what they would do generally. But what they would do for Scotland’s cause. But first I considered what I would call the dream scenario. That’s dream as in ideal and not dream as in fantasy. I don’t do fantasy politics.

It goes without saying that the SNP has to win. But they have to win big! Bear in mind that the SNP is held to a different standard from the British parties. The British parties can be declared victors even having lost seats and vote share and votes. The SNP can increase all three and still be declared losers because they didn’t win by some ludicrous margin. We know that the British parties and their media accomplices will play this silly game regardless. What we have to do is ensure the greatest possible disconnect between what they claim and the reality that is clearly evident to even the most apathetic and disengaged citizen.

The ideal, therefore, would be an SNP win with a working majority of at least two or three and over half of the vote on each of the two ballots. The Brits will still claim they’ve lost. Or that they haven’t won by a sufficient margin for it to alter the situation. But if the bigger all the numbers are for the SNP the more foolish they’ll look.

There’s something else required to make our dream scenario complete. But I’ll come back to that.

Do not suppose we might substitute ‘pro-independence parties’ for ‘SNP’ in any of the foregoing. This is still British politics. Small parties don’t count. Especially when counting them gives a total that is embarrassing or inconvenient for the British establishment. Small pro-independence parties will be disregarded completely other than when they are opposing the SNP on something. Or even just mildly critical. Don’t complain to me. That’s just the way the Brits play the game. And, for now, it’s their game. So it’s their rules.

We have our ideal – our dream scenario. What other possibilities are there? There is the nightmare scenario, of course. The bad dream is when the SNP don’t get a working majority and have to rely on support from the Scottish Greens, or whatever. In terms of administration, that is acceptable. It’s worked before so there’s no reason to suppose it might not again. In relation to the fight for independence, however, it’s no good at all. The ‘verdict’ will be that the SNP/independence campaign has ‘stalled’. People are losing interest. There’s no evidence that demand for a new referendum is increasing. And, of course, the SNP has no mandate. We are familiar with the litany.

The bad dream becomes a nightmare when there is no pro-independence majority and the SNP has suffered some kind of setback. This is all hypothetical so we don’t need to concern ourselves with what exactly the setback might be. We’re looking only at the outcome. And the parliamentary arithmetic in this scenario could quite conceivably leave it open for the British parties to cobble together an alliance that they could convince the Presiding Officer is capable of forming a government. It wouldn’t have to last. It would only have to happen.

But let’s not worry too much about that. As things stand, there is even less chance of Douglas Ross becoming First Minister than there is of AltIndy candidates going to Holyrood. But it is worth noting that Douglas Ross’s best chance lies with those AltIndy parties.

Let’s now consider a couple of scenarios in which the parliamentary arithmetic includes an AltIndy MSP. You can imagine two of them if you wish. Or even three. It makes no difference. First, let’s suppose the SNP has a working majority – either on its own or with the Scottish Greens. And our imaginary AltIndy party MSP is there too. In this scenario, the SNP has included only a mention of a new referendum in its manifesto and Nicola Sturgeon has made it clear she is determined to use the Section 30 process despite the fact that by this time pretty much everybody has realised that it can’t possibly work.

Here’s the question! What does that AltIndy party MSP do in these circumstances? How might they influence Nicola Sturgeon to adopt a different strategy. How might they do anything that will help the cause of restoring Scotland’s independence? There is nothing they can do! They can make speeches and lightly pester Nicola Sturgeon at FMQs. But that’s it!

What about a scenario just as above in which the SNP has a clear majority but in this case let’s add in the element which completes our dream scenario – a Manifesto for Independence! So we have an SNP administration with a parliamentary majority, a mandate form the people and a commitment to act on the constitutional issue. What does our AltIndy MSP have to contribute now? Still nothing! He or she is totally redundant. The AltIndy party fanatics keep going on about how more pro-independence MSPs must be better. They’ve never thought to question this notion. Because the inescapable reality is that there is nothing that can be done with a majority of twenty that can’t be done with a majority of two.

Another big selling point for the AltIndy snake-oil is the highly dubious claim that they can get rid of Unionist MSPs. And that this must be a good thing. In the first place, there is no reason to suppose that they will unseat any Unionists. And even if they succeeded to any meaningful degree this would only allow the British to cast aspersions on the legitimacy of the Scottish Parliament. Basically, they would accuse the SNP and the Yes movement of cheating. Which is nonsense, of course. But how are the public to know it’s nonsense when 99% of the media is telling them differently?

The conclusion, after asking the relevant questions, is that there is no credible scenario in which AltIndy MSPs can contribute anything to the cause of restoring Scotland’s independence. If there is no SNP administration – the AltIndy MSP can do nothing! If there is an SNP administration but no commitment to act on the constitutional issue – the AltIndy MSP can do nothing! If there’s an SNP administration with a firm commitment to act on the constitutional issue – the AltIndy MSP can add nothing useful to that!

I dislike talk of ‘wasted votes’. I don’t accept that any participation in the democratic process is wasted effort. It certainly should not be portrayed as such. But if there is such a thing as a wasted vote then it must be a vote for a party which not only has no chance of success but no purpose or function supposing it did succeed.

33 thoughts on “AltIndy parties: What will they actually DO?

  1. I agree whole heartedly with this, but I have a couple of questions.

    What would a majority SNP government achieve, given that its commitment to address the constitutional issue amounts to nothing more creative than asking again for a Section 30 order? Not that I am suggesting that any Altindy Party would have a joined up strategy, since for as far as I can see, the more zealous adherents of Altindy seem to believe that filling Hollyrood with independence supporting members will magically bring about independence. It’s just that I don’t trust the Section 30 process for it is under the control of Westminster. How do we persuade the SNP in government to do something else?

    Second. Reflecting on the make-up of many local councils in Scotland, there are quite a few elected representatives who stand on an “independent” platform. I have long suspected that such “independents” are disguised Tories who can be relied upon to vote against anything SNP. So the question is, if these unionists have been able in this way to “game” local electoral systems, could “independent” candidates not do something similar for the regional list? Is there any requirement that a person standing for the Scottish parliament be a member of a political party?


    1. We must ensure an SNP administration regardless of any other consideration because the alternative is simply unthinkable. In terms of the independence cause, however, we must ensure that this SNP administration has committed to a Manifesto for Independence prior to the election. Something like this –

      Manifesto for Independence

      Renounce Section 30 process
      Assert competence of Scottish Parliament in constitutional matters
      Recall MPs to join with MSPs in a National Convention
      Propose dissolution of Union subject to referendum
      Call referendum entirely made and managed in Scotland

      Margo MacDonald sat as an independent for several years. But she was exceptional. The problems with independents are just the same as with the AltIndy parties. Being realistic, only the SNP counts as far as the fight to restore our independence is concerned. I know a lot of people don’t like to hear it. But realpolitik doesn’t give a shit what they like. The SNP is the political wing of the Yes movement. ONLY the SNP. It doesn’t matter how committed to independence they are, other parties just don’t have any impact.

      This is the British state we’re talking about. It’s armour-plated. We won’t break through that armour with toffee-hammers – no matter how many of them we have. We’ll only Break the British state with the biggest mash hammer we can make. The SNP already is that mash hammer. How insane would it be to throw it away in favour of those toffee-hammers?

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      1. I agree more or less but I do not hold out a great deal of hope that a new SNP will do much more than slot into the Section 30 process. I think it would be brilliant if a new SNP government did exactly as you suggest. But I have no idea how to persuade it to do so. Maybe circumstances need to change quite profoundly first.


        1. This depresses me. I want to get a mass campaign going to force the SNP to adopt a Manifesto for Independence. But I know that it’s not going to happen. And not because the SNP can’t be forced. But because the attitude you evince is far too prevalent. It’s the only way we’re going to get independence. And people are shrugging their shoulders and giving up without an effort.

          I can understand the frustration. I can understand people having doubts about the SNP. The party has brought that on itself. What I can neither understand nor abide is the defeatism. Everything the Yes movement does right now should be about pushing the manifesto for Independence. Instead, we have protests against Boris Johnson and bleating about policies.

          We’re fucked! And only ourselves to blame. Because it’s only us – the Yes movement – that can possibly force the SNP to change its approach to the constitutional issue. But apparently we cannae be ersed.


          1. I don’t think we’re quite fucked yet. Giving up is not in my arsenal. I was brought up with the legend of the spider and the cave to inspire me.

            Yes, the SNP is indeed the only credible “political” wing of the yes movement, and yes, it should be supported. But I do not believe this means that we should rely only on the SNP to bring about independence. There must be other “non-political” strategies available in the struggle for Scottish autonomy that will help things along. We need to be able constructively to influence events rather than rely on “politics”.

            I put “political” and “non-political” under scare quotes because I do not personally believe that there is any aspect of life that is not political. As Aristotle observed many yonks ago, Man is a political animal whose consciousness is dependent on membership of a polity. The political/non-political dichotomy is the basis of the regulation of the “political” process by the powers that be.


            1. Scotland’s independence will be restored in the Scottish Parliament. There are no strategies that don’t require effective political power and the SNP is the only source of that power. Either we force the SNP to do it or it’s not happening. That’s the realpolitik so many in the Yes movement are in denial about. We are fucked because, despite all the evidence and experience of the past few decades, there are still people who can say “I do not believe this means that we should rely only on the SNP to bring about independence.”. No lessons have been learned. None!


                1. That’s a meaningless distinction. At the present time we have to treat the SNP as if it is equivalent to the independence movement because the entire independence depends totally on what the SNP does. That’s realpolitik. Arguing fine points of definition may be amusing. But think any of the arguments through and it always comes back to the fact that the SNP is the key. The ONLY key. For our immediate purposes, the SNP IS the independence movement.

                  Which does not mean to say that the Yes movement isn’t the independence movement. Only that at this time it doesn’t really matter what the Yes movement does to anything like the extent that what the SNP does. This is no surprise. It was always going to come down to an SNP administration in Edinburgh versus a British Nationalist regime in London. It comes down to this at every election. Just not to the extent that it does in the 2021 Holyrood election.


                  1. It is not a meaningless distinction at all. Otherwise I would not have made it. I agree that at the present time, the SNP is in the best position to deliver actual independence. But it is surely not correct either empirically or strategically so emphatically to assert that the SNP IS for the moment the independence movement. I continue to believe that even in this moment there is more available in the strategic armoury than lobbying the SNP hierarchy to do stuff. We must also find ways of influencing events, confronting the everyday delusions the Brits throw at us. To put so much faith only in a vanguard party that has no intention of leading from the front rules out so much more. Next time we meet, we can discuss this further.


                    1. Rules out what, exactly. Whatever it is I guarantee that if you don’t stop thinking because you’ve found whatever it is and whatever it is suits your purpose, then you will find that it ultimately comes back to an SNP administration in the Scottish Parliament. Nothing happens without effective political power. The SNP is the independence movement’s only source of effective political power. Unless you know of someone or something else that can take legislation through the Scottish Parliament.

                      We can all do other stuff. But when the chips are down if we’re not supporting the SNP we’re not supporting the independence cause.


    1. Not surprised. I tried to suggest that voting for these “alternatives” was counter-productive. As a result he, along with several of his acolytes, resorted to calling me a “yoon infiltrator” and a 77th Brigade plant. As with you and Peter no answers were forthcoming when he/they were questioned about the actual assumptions they used. Also, they got very heated when asked if they were against some form of proportional representation when they attempted to argue that all the SNP list votes were “wasted”. I pointed out that, in reality, the SNP actually did “better” overall than votes cast and that AMS was a fairly accurate picture of the political affiliations of the Scottish populace.

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      1. I’ve tried that myself. I’ve pointed out that our system actually works quite well as PR systems go. I’ve pointed out that what they are trying to do is make our Parliament LESS proportional. I’ve wondered whether that was a good idea. I’ve been subjected to abuse for my pains.

        One thing you’ll notice is how the snake-oil pedlars talk about the regional vote in isolation. As if it was a stand-alone FPTP ballot. The idea of all those SNP votes being “wasted” only makes sense if you think about the list vote in such terms. But it’s a deception. It’s dishonest.


  2. “The ideal, therefore, would be an SNP win with a working majority of at least two or three and over half of the vote on each of the two ballots.”

    I think this is key: the British will only be able to claim that we live in a one-party state, are the North Korea of the north-west Atlantic Archipelago etc but they would embarrass themselves (not that this would stop them mind).

    Having more pro-Independence MPs does no harm and I will admit to some schadenfreude if the likes of Murdo Fraser, Annie Wells and James Kelly (politician, allegedly) lose their well packaged and remunerated career jobs. But that is my personal prejudice and I would not wish to risk Scotland’s cause by indulging my peccadillo.

    The fact remains that a super-majority does not trump a majority. All that matters is that those in power are able and willing to enact what they were put there to which, in this case, is to facilitate self-determination of the people in this country.

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  3. The only benefit I see is for every Altindy elected, it reduces the number the SNP alone needed to get for them to have an outright majority. Add in a coalition with Greens then it is more likely, if that is the preferred route.


    1. Only the SNP counts. The notion that one pro-independence MSP is as good as another is simplistic nonsense. This is British politics still. It’s winner takes all. When did the British political elite ever show the slightest respect for coalitions or ‘rainbow parliaments’? Scotland could elect 20 on-SNP pro-independence MSPs and the British establishment would discount them completely. Unless they were criticising the SNP administration. Then they’d hit the front pages and the top of BBC News.

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  4. It is clear that the SNP leadership have no intention to do anything to actually achieve independence. So I want an alternative independence supporting party to vote for. Secondly, given that the SNP are an avowed left wing party and are using independence voter to push other political agendas, who are conservative independence supporters to vote for?


  5. Can you explain exactly what having 40+ unionist list MSPs will do for Scottish independence? Assuming the polls are anywhere near correct the SNP will win the majority of constituency seats(estimated to win 68), this success would mean the SNP would win ZERO list seats. So surely it would be better to have another PRO-INDY Party in Holyrood rather than unionist MSPs. The 2016 figures don’t lie. The SNP success in the constituency votes cost them dearly in the list vote. 6 out of 8 regions returning nothing for the independence movement. It’s time we started using the system to benefit the independence movement, unionists have been doing it for years.


    1. The difference is that none of those 40+ Unionist MSPs has been elected on a promise to do something about independence. In fact, I think you’ll find it’s quite the contrary.

      But they have been duly elected. That is why they are there. Because people voted for them. Either directly or by pay of their party. The cunning plan cultists talk as if those Unionist MSPs have no right to be there. That is as disrespectful or our democracy as anything said by those Unionists.

      And you still haven’y explained what those “PRO-INDY” MSPs would do. Because the simple truth is that they would have no purpose whatever.

      In fact, you’re fairly typical of the cunning plan cultists. You don’t address the arguments at at all. You ignore everything anyone else says and just keep repeating the snake-oil sales patter. You get your panties in a turmoil about the SNP not winning list seats as if that is some kind of gross injustice. Whereas in fact it is just the AMS system in operation. A system which actually delivers proportionality to our Parliament.

      I am as eager as anyone to get the British parties out of that Parliament. But not by deceiving the voters. I would prefer to do it honestly and democratically.


  6. The SNP are a political party, first and foremost, with a very powerful leadership that thinks about moves toward Independence solely through the prism of party politics and retaining it’s party political power in Scotland. It understands this as essential to the cause of Scottish Independence because, like you Peter, it considers itself THE only route to Independence. This may or may not be accurate, but what it does do is create a VERY cautious and self protective attitude toward their strategy for Independence. An attitude many non professional politicians, in their frustration, mistakenly view as self-serving stalling by those enjoying very comfortable and well paid political positions in the British party political system.  
    As a party political entity the SNP feels no pressure from the ‘Yes’ movement because to them the Yes movement was created in 2014 by them and for them. When has the Yes ‘movement’ ever influenced SNP policy? The only thing that the SNP leadership can demonstrably be influenced by is ‘their’ voters at election time. If you harbour any hopes of any elements of your ‘Manifesto for Independence’ being adopted by the current SNP leadership, then the only realistic way I see that happening is after the Holyrood elections, via electoral support for it being successfully tested by a list only Yes party.  A list only Yes party completely (and only) focused on the constitutional issue – pushing that constitutional issue as THE only single issue that unifies ALL individual yes voters and forms the basis of Yes as a Movement. 
    Even a mildly electorally successful Yes list party, that pushed that constitutional position on Indy, would scare the living daylights out of the SNP leadership and have them begin adopting much more urgency in their ‘drive’ for Independence to re assert their ‘party of Independence’ crown. After all, it was not so much the 11 SNP MPs that scared the establishment so much back in 74, it was much more the 50 odd SNP second places in constituencies all across Scotland that really put the wind up them. Elections are never simply understood by win or lose on the night because it is the next election that instantly becomes the focus for party political minds that run successful parties. That is exactly how the party political minds that run the SNP would see popular support on the list for such a constitutionally focused Yes perty. 
    You ask what good would such a party do? As well as the above, I also think that a Yes party on the list at every Holyrood election would help unify Yes as a non party political entity, rather than solely split Yes supporters up into their party political allegiances as British elections currently do at the moment. 
    It would also be great to actually hear full blown arguments for Independence and full blooded Independence campaigning for Independence being done at every Holyrood election until Indy is achieved. This is certainly NOT being done by any other ‘Indy’ supporting party at the moment.
    Lastly, I would also like to see any elected MSPs for a Yes list party being contractually obliged to donate a large % of their salary to an IndyRef2 fighting fund, and use their office expenses to set up campaigning infrastructure in whichever regions they are elected for. In this way the British party political system can help pay for its own downfall. I think that would be a VERY attractive manifesto commitment to Yes voters. 
    Obviously none of the above is on offer from any of the current crop of List Only Indy supporting parties – but that does not mean that the possible capabilities of such a Yes list only party could never exist and should be ignored as a possible way forward. 

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      1. Please tell that to the SNP Peter, not us. But then you (and we) have been doing exactly that for years, and we both know the results.

        I am slowly and sadly becoming resigned to the belief that the real battle ahead for Indy supporters now, is how we avoid 5 more years of another wasted British party political election cycle. One filled in Scotland, once again, with a hugely electorally successful SNP that self protects and delays on Indy until it is the vast majority of their electorate that loses faith in them and not just the politically aware Indy advanced guard. (Something that would spell implosion for them as a party, and disaster for the movement, if at that point the SNP are still the only feasible party political organisation open to a Yes electorate. No matter the size of that Yes electorate).
        Unfortunately (and I really, really mean that), I see no evidence that the current leadership intends to change direction from its current path. A path they have already fluently talked and still talk the Yes language of democracy, indyref2 and the need for Scots democratic mandates to be respected, but, in terms of action to turn those warm, warm words into meaningful progress, there has been less than nothing.
        Instead we HAVE seen 4 years of loud, high profile campaigning on an impossible and politically cynical promise to keep the UK in the EU against the UKs majority democratic will, instead of following a principled, legitimate and mandated all-out campaign to provide the Scots electorate a real democratic choice on our own future as nation ‘in time for it to make a difference’. Sounds familiar doesn’t it… but that just shows that the principled option was known and considered – but more as just another episode of fine words to be fed to Yessers rather than a principled position of political substance. 

        I have not given up on Independence Peter, I never will, but I feel like I am going through a horrible 2nd political awakening, worse than the one I went through as a teenager, when I sadly came to terms with the inherent corruption and cynicism of Scots politics within the context of the UK. In fact, I supported the principled SNP (of old) partly to save me from the corrosive cynicism of that first unavoidable political awakening as a boy. An awakening that opened my eyes to the fact that ALL political parties are, at their core, unprincipled and self serving, realistically only ever operating at a day to day, election by election timescale. (These are parties of power I am talking about, not parties specifically set up to influence those parties of power).

        My own personal life has already been stressed beyond repair by SNP inaction on their VERY loudly proclaimed and electorally leveraged promises, so perhaps I (and other personally affected EU dependent activists) are a little ahead of the curve as far as suffering the ramifications of our Scottish Government’s inaction goes. I understand that this is not the experience (yet) of the vast majority of Yes activists (never mind the electorate as a whole), but I don’t think it is experience that can be lightly ignored when considering what has politically been, and formulating realistic ways to advance when taking on board what has politically been.

        As I have said in my previous post – my preference, as a way forward, would be for the formation of a List Only political party formed from and representing the Yes movement. It’s only political priorities – Independence first, last and only!
        How such a party is formed I don’t know, but I don’t see any of the current crop of list only parties fitting that bill. To the contrary, they seem like just more of the same – party political, policy driven special interest parties that already litter Scottish politics, trying to leverage frustrated support for Indy as a way to promote policy agendas that would otherwise struggle to gain electoral traction alone. In fact, just the same thing many of the supporters of these new parties are accusing the SNP of doing and that they are so frustrated with.

        None of that, however, is an argument against the kind of list only Yes party that I (and I believe many other Yessers) would like to see formed and be able to vote for come 2021. From your one word response to my and Jim4 Indy’s posts Peter, can I assume that we have at least addressed some of the fears you have expressed over (even the principle behind) the formation of a list only Yes party standing in 2021?      

        We seem to be not too far from one another’s thinking. We both understand the SNP as the pro indy party of government in Scotland who are the only political power that can call and spearhead a real drive for Indy. We are both scratching our heads in frustration trying to find ways of influencing that ‘party of Independence’ into exercising the explicit democratic mandates gained from the Scots electorate when winning election to Scottish government. My practical route to that influence is somehow to create a Yes List only party that is truly formed out of the Yes movement.
        What are the practical steps that you think the ‘Yes movement’ CAN take within the very tight timescale required to successfullyinfluence the SNP leadership before 2021 into changing Indy strategy? My own suggestions are really made out of despair and cynicism, so believe me Peter, I am more than open to any realistic and practical alternatives that have any hope of succeeding. In the absence of this, as deadlines and political promises have whizzed by, my thinking has been forced onto what I see as still possible and practical (and that now means in the medium term – as the SNP playing field of choice undeniably seems to be British electoral cycles). 

        ‘Time!’ and its use as a campaigning weapon for Indy, is in the hands of the SNP – not us I am afraid. 


        1. Getting the SNP to change its approach to the constitutional issue requires the entire Yes movement to get the fuck over the factionalism that has afflicted it and speak with one voice. I have little hope of that happening. But it has to be tried because nothing else will be effective. List parties and court actions are pointless distractions. If we don’t get the SNP back on track none of it matters a toss.


          1. Yes Peter, but what is the mechanism for ‘the entire Yes movement to get the fuck over the factionalism that has afflicted it and speak with one voice’? None has yet magically appeared in six years of non party political activism, so I have my doubts any will appear in the next few critical months. I can’t tell you how much that saddens me, but there it is.

            What needs created (and always has been needed) is a real life practical way for Yes to work together collectively and develop that strong collective identity that might allow for some kind of political influence to be leveraged. But that collective spirit (or will) does not exist strongly enough yet, and what does exist is pretty effectively dismantled every two or three years when Yes activists start kicking party political lumps out of each other at every British election campaign – whither held as Scotland or the UK.

            There is no single silver bullet for this problem, but perhaps developing a truly dedicated Yes List Party from the constitutional goals and grassroots culture of the Yes movement just may be an important element in creating a successful mix. Especially as up until now the Yes movement has completely trusted and relied upon, without question, the SNP as the party political driver for IndyRef2. ( eg ‘The SNP call it and Yes win it!) In many ways we, as a movement, have had the luxury of leaving all that filthy party political manoeuvring to the SNP, focusing on community activism and grassroots autonomy in the utter belief that the SNP will always take any chance at IndyRef2 that can be possibly engineered. That belief is now, unfortunately, being tested in many and so it’s not surprising that the focus of many Yes activists is now very firmly set on the party political side of Indy strategy, no matter what the personal preference is for the ‘solution’ they advance.

            Wish to fuck we didn’t have to waste our time talking about this and the SNP just did what it says on their tin.

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            1. “What needs created (and always has been needed) is a real life practical way for Yes to work together collectively”

              That’s the bit I don’t have an answer for. A movement as diverse as Yes can’t be organised. If it is to unify it must be an organic process in which the movement organises itself by coalescing around a particular group or individual. Like a snowball rolling down a slope. But time is not on our side and there is no sign of this organic process starting. Quite the contrary. The factionalism is getting worse. Which is what factionalism does, of course.


              1. Yes I agree that the movement, any truly grassroots movement, MUST organise itself to be able to retain its diversity and all the local campaigning power that diversity gives, but still come together when required to collectively leverage that power when speaking to traditional top down organisations, like political parties and their politicians.

                My experience of ‘Yes factionalism’ is maybe a little more hopeful than your own, as my dealings are mainly with Indy groups and group activists, who in the main are as focused on Indy as they ever were and retain that Yes spirit of support and local self sufficiency. It always amazes politicians and non group members, when they have attended Gatherings and seen for themselves, just how sensible, collegiate, constructive and collectively minded the Yes group members really are.

                I think that is because the sensible, hard working and committed majority of the organised Yes campaign are so rarely heard (and rarely hear themselves). Instead they are ‘spoken for’ through a collection of popular blogs and pro Indy organisations that often have their own agendas and factional ‘pre-occupations’. As these are the people with the loudest voices, obviously it is these voices that form the basis of most peoples sense of the movement. But, this social media impression of Yes is NOT representative of the organised groups of Yes, in my experience. In fact it always amazes me how little interest the SNP and other more top down Yes organisations (with honourable exceptions of course) have in the potential of the Yes groups. In fact, the Yes groups ARE the backbone of the movement and it is them that are the key to winning any IndyRef campaign on the ground and in their communities.

                In my experience any feelings of factionalism come solely from frustrations of operating at grassroots level without the collectively binding effect of an official campaign, This makes campaigning for groups a very limited affair, as the potential reach of groups in their communities of non politically minded folk only really expands significantly during such an official period of social campaigning for Indy. But, when it does expand -it explodes! Getting ready for this and being prepared for this without sight of a campaign has its own incredible pressures and difficulties, which again adds to the frustration as each year goes by.

                This frustration is the fertile ground for the factionalism being expressed by those loud voices in the blogisphere, but I hope and believe the calling of an official campaign (with a date) will remove much of these frustrations – and so the factionalism. I just hope the movement (of groups) is organised enough by then to cope with the explosion of interest and activism that such starting gun will create in each of their communities and the country as a whole.

                Lets hope that Nicola and the SNP leadership are serious this time and that they bring forward a credible and believable road map to IndyRef2. If she does, I think much of the ‘factionalism’ will simply blow away as it gets exposed as the void filling froth that it is.

                Fuck me Peter – I am almost sounds hopeful! 😉


  7. ‘They can make speeches and lightly pester Nicola Sturgeon.’

    This is what you do, in written form, is it not, Peter? And you do it presumably because you believe it has an effect. I believe it does too.

    Speeches in our Scottish Parliament, based on clear analysis can have an effect. We can’t have the SNP blethering unchallenged about the ‘gold standard’ and an ‘illegal referendun’ for another five years. They need to have their collars well and truly felt on this.

    The case for a repudiation of section 30, must be heard. More people will hear it if it is presented in the Scottish Parliament.

    The SNP will not change tack if they feel no pressure to do so. An alternative independence party will be one such pressure.

    Great post by Jason above.

    Liked by 1 person

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