The idea of a plebiscitary election seems to be gaining traction. It is very much my second choice in terms of how we should proceed. Often it is not the best ideas that win, but the most popular ones. When that happens supporters of the better plan have to accept it and try to make the best of it. And I would be perfectly prepared to do that. Under normal circumstances.
Unfortunately, these are not normal circumstances. We absolutely must proceed on the basis that restoring Scotland’s independence is a matter of the utmost urgency; and that the coming election is our last chance to do it. We cannot afford to get it wrong. We cannot afford to settle for second best.
A plebiscitary election MIGHT work. It MIGHT trigger a process by which Scotland’s independence is restored. But it probably won’t. The most likely outcome would be that we find ourselves back where we are now, but without the prospect of an election which can be used to leverage Scotland’s cause. We’ll know we’ve squandered our final opportunity.
The important thing about the next move is that it must be decisive. It must be conclusive. A plebiscitary election is very, very unlikely to produce such an outcome. Especially if the waters are further muddied by a plethora of snake-oil parties on the regional ballot.
There’s a severe case of disconnected thinking in the plebiscitary election idea. Barrhead Boy’s latest blog article illustrates the point nicely. On the one hand, he insists on a particular course of action having given no informed consideration to the arguments against this course of action or the arguments for an alternative course of action. On the other, he advocates a second – or secondary – course of action such as will serious reduce the likelihood of the first course of action being effective.
The only way a plebiscitary election MIGHT work is if there is ONE party standing on a very explicit independence platform and that party gets a massive majority of the votes. Yet here we have numpties demanding that the 2021 Holyrood be made a plebiscite on independence while also insisting on splitting the vote for independence.
To make things even more bizarre, the people who want to rely on the SNP adopting a very explicit independence platform are the same ones who flatly refuse to even consider the possibility of persuading the SNP away from its current inane approach to the constitutional issue.
The same thing as supposedly makes the #ManifestoForIndepen
dence / #ScottishUDI idea infeasible isn’t even a minor stumbling block when it comes to the idea of a plebiscitary election!
A plebiscitary election is too susceptible to challenge to be as conclusive as the situation requires. If you haven’t identified any ways in which it could be challenged then you haven’t thought it through. The only thing that could make it something like conclusive enough would be an unprecedented landslide for the party representing a vote for independence. The notion that votes for other parties will count is naive to the point of being delusional. We are not independent yet. This is still the British political system. There is only ever one winner. Why is it not obvious that this must be even more true when you make an election a binary choice?
IF the SNP can be persuaded to make the election a binary choice between the Union and independence and IF the SNP makes an appropriate manifesto pledge and IF the SNP then gets >50% of the vote on both ballots, then a plebiscitary election MIGHT be conclusive enough. But probably not.
I was going to go into the ways in which the British would be likely to respond to an attempt to make the coming election an independence plebiscite and their potential responses to various post-election scenarios. But what’s the point. It seems that thinking things through to that extent isn’t very fashionable.