Are you being realistic?

AFI’s Max the Yes strategy has nothing to do with restoring Scotland’s independence and everything to do with the partisan agendas and personal ambitions of those seeking to exploit frustration with the SNP for ends that are totally misguided.

AFI’s Max the Yes strategy is a gamble. A huge gamble. At stake is the pro-independence majority and perhaps even the SNP government. Lose either or both of these and Scotland’s cause really will be off the political agenda for a generation. Possibly even a Jackson Carlaw generation of 40 years. The very least this folly will do is undermine the effective political power of the SNP at the very time when realpolitik demands that we bend all our efforts to maximising that power. Because it is only the effective political power provided by the SNP which can possibly be used to restore Scotland’s independence.

That is what we stand to lose with AFI’s Max the Yes strategy. What do we stand to gain? Nothing! Even if elected, there is nothing that Martin Keatings or any of them can actually do as an MSP which contributes to the action that must be taken if Scotland’s independence is to be restored. You don’t have to take my word for it. You can work it out for yourself. Just think it through. Don’t be blinded by all the purple prose and overblown rhetoric about filling the chamber with pro-independence MSPs and removing Unionist MSPs. These things have no more than shallow emotional appeal. Think it through!

There are maybe three or four credible post-election parliamentary scenarios. It is a simple matter to imagine them. For each of these scenarios, ask yourself what those MSPs from any of the alternative independence parties might actually do, in hard, practical terms, to initiate and progress a process by which Scotland’s independence would be restored. Cheering on the SNP Scottish Government does not count as practical, effective action. And practical, effective action is what we need.

This is nothing to do with ‘party loyalty’. Because regardless of how I or anyone else feels about the SNP the fact remains that only the Scottish Government can take the action that is required and only an SNP Scottish Government can be expected to take the action that is required. So long as there is an SNP Scottish Government with a working majority we prevent the British parties from combining to seize power, and we keep the constitutional issue front and centre of Scottish politics.

If we are serious about restoring Scotland’s independence, that is the very minimum we should be aiming for – an SNP majority administration. If we are really serious about Scotland’s cause we will be aiming to make that SNP Scottish Government as powerful as possible. We will be making it powerful enough for the confrontation with the British state that must come in 2021 if we are to have any hope of rescuing Scotland from the British Nationalist onslaught that has already begun! To do anything that risks weakening that Government would be an act of political insanity. It would be an act of self-harm every bit as tragic as the bungled Brexit project. It would be the death of Scotland’s cause.

While you’re imagining those post-election parliamentary scenarios, consider what would be the ideal from the perspective of the Yes movement. What would be the outcome of the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections that best serves the fight to restore Scotland’s independence. Not what sounds like something glittery and wonderful! What actually works. Not what appeals to you emotionally! What satisfies the rational, pragmatic assessment of the factors which best serve Scotland’s cause.

The best – the ‘dream’ – outcome of the 2021 Holyrood elections as far as the Yes movement is concerned would be an SNP Scottish Government with an absolute majority and a massive mandate from the people of Scotland. Two things back that mandate – seats and votes. Obviously, the SNP must win seats to have an absolute majority. But if we want to maximise the power of the Government that must confront the British state then what adds to that power is not other pro-independence MSPs who cannot take effective action but more votes for the MSPs who can take effective action. So the ‘dream’ outcome would be over 50% of the popular vote on both ballots for an SNP Scottish Government and a commitment to a Manifesto for Independence.

And there you have it! They key element! The cold, hard realpolitik is that we don’t need more pro-independence MSPs, we need a more pro-independence SNP!

If you think ‘max the Yes’ is the answer then you are asking the wrong question. There is nothing that can be done with a pro-independence majority of twenty that can’t be done with an SNP majority of two. The votes that hypothetically elect those non-SNP pro-independence candidates really are wasted. Because they are going to people who will have no power to act instead of maximising the power of the people who can act.

Also wasted is the energy and resources being squandered on playing reckless games with the voting system when all our energies should be devoted to securing the thing that we actually need at the moment and don’t have – a more pro-independence SNP. Every gram of energy the Yes movement can summon must be directed to forcing the SNP to commit to the action that is required if Scotland’s independence is to be restored.

We absolutely must, under any and all circumstances, have an SNP Scottish Government after the 2021 election.

To make that SNP Scottish Government powerful enough to confront the British state we absolutely must secure for it the most massive mandate that can possibly be secured. That means every pro-independence vote in Scotland.

But first we absolutely must ensure that, it having been made capable of restoring Scotland’s independence, this SNP Scottish Government is committed to doing so. We absolutely must have the SNP adopt the Manifesto for Independence before the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections.

Securing a popular mandate for action to restore Scotland’s independence absolutely requires that the SNP goes into the 2021 Scottish Parliament election with an explicit undertaking to pursue that action.

That’s realpolitik! Which I find a great deal more appealing that the ill-conceived and frankly fantastical notion of organising tactical voting on a national scale.

12 thoughts on “Are you being realistic?

  1. “So the ‘dream’ outcome would be over 50% of the popular vote on both ballots for an SNP Scottish Government and a commitment to a Manifesto for Independence.”

    Hear, hear.

    It’s about legitimacy, not gaming the system for personal gain and/or denying the Brits their undeserved income (at our expense).

    The dream will shall never die …

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree we need to give the SNP the maximum support but what about the argument some make that voting SNP 1 and 2 doesn’t translate to more seats for them because of the Holyrood voting system ? I’ve heard conflicting opinion about this and admit I’m still a little unsure of the best strategy to ” Max the ( SNP ) Vote “


    1. So long as a majority is secured, more seats – either for the SNP or any other nominally pro-independence party – are of less importance than more votes. A majority is a majority. It’s value is fixed at 1. The mandating power of the popular vote is variable. That power can keep on increasing after the majority is won. And if the popular vote goes over 50% it’s power increases massively. Thus, no vote for the SNP can possibly be wasted. They all count.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The other would be Independence Parties have been given cause to “go for it” principally because of the silence from the SNP. If the SNP had been more vocal about their intentions and how and when they planned to achieve Independence then these other Indy parties would have never have got off the ground. The fact the SNP have been silent is a concern. Here’s hoping the Conference brings all uncertainty to an end. Nicola Sturgeon absolutely has to deliver.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. The problem is, Peter, that while your exposition of the problems of AFI strategy contains much that is valid, you ignore the massive obstacles put in the way of achieving a pro-Independence SNP.
    Best wishes,


    1. Of course there are obstacles. But we cannot sensibly give up because we’ve decided without even making an effort that the obstacles are insurmountable. And, as I keep repeating because I have to keep repeating it, it’s not as if we have a choice. If we don’t overcome those obstacles then we are fucked anyway. So why not at least try?

      I can’t believe this is the same Yes movement I used to march with on the streets of Scotland’s towns and cities. That Yes movement didn’t sit in a corner sulking. That Yes movement made a noise. That Yes movement wouldn’t have tolerated the last six years. That Yes movement would have laid siege to Holyrood. Where the fuck did it go?


  5. It’s pretty simple Peter, the SNP need to clearly affirm in their manifesto that a vote for them IS a vote for independence. This is always claimed but is something that has been missing from SNP manifestos since the 70s. 

    In fact, the SNP (originally for tactical reasons) has successfully decoupled their election as a party from the radical policy monster of, “Scottish independence” by reassuring everyone that independence will be decided not by normal electoral democracy, but instead by referendum – and so electing the SNP only provides the mandate for the holding of that referendum. That tactic worked right up to the point of indyref1 simply because the UK government had not contemplated the possibility of defeat and were happy to humour us – well they have contemplated defeat now and it’s a NO to any future indyref2 from them! 

    SNP problem now is – even some long term SNP loyalists no longer believe their referendum commitment is serious if the UK govt are to be given an explicit veto on it a la current SNP S30 policy. Basically, the perception is that the SNP leadership no longer see a vote for the SNP as a vote for Indy, but rather a vote for the SNP, and the bigger that vote becomes (in the absence of an SNP manifesto commitment to indy), the more it verifies to the leadership that the vote is for ‘politics as usual’ and not the cause of independence. That’s what all that, “good governance” and “stronger voice for scotland” shtick is all about. 
    This is becoming VERY obvious now. So much so that even party members feel the need to create a group called “SNP members for independence”! Just think about that… 😦

    Your ideal result for 2021 is absolutely bang on the money, we can agree on that – BUT all depends on the SNP stating absolutely clearly that a vote for them IS a vote for Independence in whatever democratic way it must come – this is essential given the evidence of UK intransigence and the urgency of our democratic deficit (not to mention the EU and pandemic shitshow). 

    This is a battle for you and the membership of the SNP Peter. It’s a battle that is long overdue but that is because up until now the membership has found politics as usual and electoral success intoxicating enough to wait patiently for Indy jam tomorrow. That may be beginning to change, hopefully, but it’s you and the SNP membership that need to make that change. There is no point at howling at non members and members of other parties who are just trying their best at forming electoral alternatives in the face of current despair at SNP inaction.
    If SNP do what they should do – and state clearly in their manifesto that they will pursue independence urgently in whatever peaceful democratic way necessary for results, then support for all other indy parties will melt away. It’s all about the SNP and what their electoral offer is – it always has been. Good luck with your fight at the conference. I have all my fingers and toes crossed for you all.. in hope rather than expectation..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Which is why I have been urging for many months now that the entire Yes movement get behind a campaign to force the SNP to adopt the Manifesto for Independence. To no avail. Half the Yes movement is off playing silly games with the electoral system or making lawyers a few quid richer. Those same people will be first in line to blame the SNP when it all goes arse-shaped. They won’t take responsibility for their own role.


  6. Those that joined and are members of the SNP must absolutely take responsibility for the SNP and it’s role in providing the promised IndyRef2 and protection from BREXIT. Until now, it simply has not happened and no amount of urging or pressure from the ‘Yes Movement’ over the years has been taken seriously by the SNP leadership because they generally think that Yes was created by them and for them in 2014.
    I am not a member of the SNP and will not join the SNP or any political party because IF we are to win independence in the way that the SNP always say we are to – that is, via referendum – then what is needed to win is not a party political machine but a non party political social movement. The SNP has shown, I think, that it is not able to understand that difference. So, the SNP need to do their party political job and deliver their promises on IndyRef2, then the Yes movement can get on with our job of delivering the winning social campaign.
    If the SNP do not deliver on their promises then obviously other political offers are going to begin to form – some good, some bad and some indifferent. I think all that Yes want is for the party to deliver on it’s many promises. Please.


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