What a mess!

“Here is what we know. A majority SNP government will hold a referendum within the term of the next parliament.”

Richard Walker: This is why Both Votes SNP is best way to ensure independence

But we don’t know this, Richard. That is a very large part of the problem. In your very next sentence you refer to a caveat which makes a total mockery of the notion that there is a firm commitment to a referendum at any time in the next parliament… or the one after that. To say that there will be a referendum “when circumstances and the pandemic allow” renders the assurance meaningless.

Then there’s the business of a Section 30 request. You’d think enough had been said in condemnation of this aspect of the SNP’s approach to the constitutional issue that candidates would be embarrassed to mention it. The fact that it is still being talked about tells us only that the party isn’t listening.

There’s talk of holding a referendum despite the anticipated rejection of Nicola Sturgeon’s demeaning plea for Boris Johnson’s gracious permission to exercise our inalienable right of self-determination. I won’t get into the matter of how a Section 30 request compromises the sovereignty of the people of Scotland. What would be the point given that the SNP doesn’t listen? And evidently doesn’t have any any respect for the principle of popular sovereignty. I’ll just say that when the SNP tells me in one breath that a Section 30 order is required and in the next breath that it isn’t then I start to think they’re taking the pish. And when they say they’ll hold a referendum absent empty promises of cooperation from the British political elite but fail to explain how then my suspicions about being taken for a fool are confirmed.

Up until a day or two ago I was in full agreement with the strategy of voting for the SNP on both the constituency and the regional ballot. This was, as I had previously stated, both the best default strategy for voters unsure of which way to go and the optimum strategy for most voters looking to achieve the election outcome which best serves Scotland’s cause. But ‘both votes SNP’ could only be a viable strategy if the party had adopted the Manifesto for Independence. It only militates for that ideal election outcome to the extent that the SNP has given a solemn, irrevocable and unconditional undertaking to take the action necessary if Scotland’s independence is to be restored in timely fashion.

Both votes SNP only works if the party repudiates the Section 30 process and commits to asserting the primacy of the Scottish Parliament upon taking office. Giving an SNP Scottish Government a ‘supermandate’ is a good strategy only if the manifesto being mandated justifies it. The SNP manifesto may not have been published yet, but nothing anyone in the SNP is saying gives me cause to expect or even hope that it will contain the kind of commitment that is required.

For this reason, I can no longer contemplate voting SNP on both ballots. Nor can I in good conscience commend this strategy to others.

I am well aware of the issues with a supermajority. I have been one of regrettably few pro-independence bloggers who have questioned the claims being made for the efficacy of a supermajority. But much – perhaps most – of my criticism was relative to the prospect of a ‘supermandate’ for an SNP manifesto which provided the undertaking outlined above. Since that seems no longer to be an option then we must salvage what we can from yet another opportunity missed by the SNP.

I would like to have closed by wishing all the SNP’s list candidates well. But I can’t even do that given some of the names on those lists and being aware of how those names got there.

What a bloody mess Nicola Sturgeon has made of things.

29 thoughts on “What a mess!

  1. If the SNP hierarchy are too stupid (and I’m choosing that word deliberately) to ignore the thoughts of someone like yourself who has gone out of his way to look for the positives in their stance, then I fear the small glimmer of hope I still have for independence in my lifetime, has all but gone out!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I feel very much the same.

      Mr Bell’s analyses have been terrier like in their persistent exposure of SNP stupidity and always they force a reader to think things through very carefully before getting too enthusiastic about stupid strategies. I have no doubt that had the SNP been persuaded in the aftermath of the last referendum to adopt a manifesto for independence, then we would not be where we are now. Unfortunately the SNP became overwhelmed by woke careerists who prefer stupidity to mess.

      I am perhaps more enthusiastic about the SNP1Alba2 thing than others, but I am realistic. I do not believe a large number of independence supporting members in Parliament will do more than push the thorn of Scottishness more deeply into the side of the British state, the messy details of this remain to be seen. Already though the very existence of Alba has upset the cosy assumption that independence is just round the corner, that all we have to do is trust Nicola. It has also encouraged people to attempt to understand the voting system, which I have discovered is genuinely difficult for people not good at maths to understand and which surely must have been put there for exactly this reason. I suspect too that the Green party and maybe even ghastly Galloway will pick up votes on the back of any greater understanding of d’Hondt that ensues. All of which is good for democracy if such a thing exists for longer than the time taken for a folded piece of paper to be posted into a sealed box.

      These are fascinating times, but I also do not believe I will live to see independence. I am glad though to be witnessing, during whatever time I do have left, something interesting happening in Scottish politics.

      Liked by 6 people

  2. It is going to get messier too. Conflict with the British state is inevitable on the road to independence, which will mean mess in unavoidable. The happy clappy faith in S30 is no more than a vain hope that this might not be so.

    The most depressing element of the SNP seems to me its complete inability to understand history, which has been fostered and perpetuated by its adoption of so called identity politics and which has thereby sidelined the greater independence movement. For a while after the referendum of 2014, when so may new members turned up, the SNP became the vanguard of independence, but this morphed in the mind of the party faithful into an equivalence between the SNP and the wider independence movement. This abject failure to comprehend that one party cannot co-opt historical forces is about to come back to bite them all on the bum.

    Whatever anybody says about Alba and despite its widespread vilification it seems to have fired up the grass roots again, which is always where history begins.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. It may be that “one party cannot co-opt historical forces”. Although I wouldn’t fully endorse this without giving it more thought. What is more certainly true is that historical forces can co-opt a single party. It must be so given that success is invariably better assured when those forces are concentrated and directed at established power – which is almost by definition, the resistance to historical forces and defender of the status quo.

      One thinks, for example, of the reforms implemented by the British Labour Party in the mid-20th century. It could readily be argued that historical forces militated for massive improvements to healthcare, housing and the rest. But it was not until the electorate concentrated those forces in and through a single party that it was possible to overcome the inherent resistance of ‘the system’.

      It is to be regretted that such lessons are so seldom learned. Or quickly forgotten. I could weep when I think of what might have been achieved if progressive forces had not so easily or so frequently succumbed to factionalism.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Yes indeed.
        That is the chance the SNP squandered in 2014. Sturgeon was handed on a plate an existing alliance between historical forces and an efficient party machine. Seven years later here we are, independence still always just round the corner.
        When the SNP membership increased overnight by 100,000, it gladly took the subscriptions but told new members little more than they should learn to put leaflets in envelopes and go campaigning with a message circumscribed by central office.
        Less than a month earlier, there was an almost revolutionary sentiment among the crowds out on the streets carrying saltires, and in the next days the violence of unionist reaction. It was beyond the ken of the SNP at that time to know what the fuck to do other than ask new members to stuff envelopes.

        A profound betrayal of history.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. It is, as you say Peter, regrettable that lessons are seldom learned. Opportunity succumbing to factionalism did not however occur of its own accord particularly within the SNP.

        The entryism of the Stonewall orientated activists was propagated surreptitiously by a clique surrounding and including the Murrells, designed to create a power structure which denied democracy to the party membership while simultaneously avoiding accountability.

        That strategy was further employed to keep the YES movement at arms length which has increasingly led to frustration within the Independence movement and as a result factionalism may well have come to the fore.

        The political dilettantes in the guise of SNP representatives at Holyrood and Westminster have demonstrated that Scotland as a country seeking Independence is wholly bereft of leadership and perhaps more worryingly incapable of change.

        Nicola Sturgeon appears to be conducting her campaign for re-election through the cult like promotion of clothing urging her followers to Eat sleep Nicola without any reference or hint of the mountain we must conquer to gain our Independence. If any one thing shows her contempt for our Nation surely it must be this!

        Liked by 4 people

  3. In simple business terms, it’s folly for the largest chain of individual voters in the land to rely on just one supplier. Especially when said supplier has failed to deliver its most popular product. That, along with changing its costs, quality control, service and terms. If an alternative supplier does not get our support; in 1-3-7-10 years we will all regret it.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I think we have to accept, that, from 2014 onwards, when Nicola Sturgeon took over, independence was already behind us as far as the SNP was concerned. I keep saying that the concentration on, and pandering to, NO voters was entirely indicative of that, when the very opposite was required. Any kind of referendum was a trap after 2014, and the S30 insistence only compounded the error. But was it an error? I don’t think so. I think that the trajectory the SNPG has take is precisely the trajectory it was always going to take with this FM, and her coterie, at the helm.

    Her coterie is composed mainly of ultra gradualists and pseudo ‘wokerati’. The ultra gradualists had always been waiting in the wings, but the pseudo ‘wokerati’ were a new phenomenon, and they came across from the ultra left of the Labour Party, eager to steer the SNP in the direction that they wanted it to go – which was into identity politics and the means of enforcing identity politics on the country. It is these two groups, augmented by entryists and feather-bedders, rubber-stamped by Nicola Sturgeon herself and the party machinery run by her husband, that have driven the SNPG since 2015. The SNPG managerial template is pure Stonewall.

    It became very evident after the Brexit referendum that they had no intention of allowing independence to take centre stage as a means of alleviating Brexit or its aftermath for Scotland alone, and they are at it again, with guff about the pandemic and its aftermath, so we can take it that at least another five to ten years will pass before, left to their own devices, they even allow the question of independence to arise again – and probably not then, either, if she is allowed to remain. Unless the SNPG can be pressured into submission by another pro Independence Party, we are going nowhere. The SNPG will do absolutely nothing on its own. Nothing. In these circumstances, a champion would normally come to the fore, someone unexpected, but right for the situation.

    I recall the meeting where we were all introduced to the duo standing for the Leadership and Deputy Leadership – Salmond and Sturgeon – and I can remember being puzzled by Ms Sturgeon. It is very clear, even now. It is so easy to say, in hindsight, that I knew that she would not take us to independence; of course I didn’t, but something did not sit right with her. Something was wrong, askew, about her commitment to us, the troops, but I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was at the time – just a sense that something was amiss. I must say that I never felt that with Alec Salmond. His commitment always felt total. In the end, sometimes you have to trust that gut feeling, even if you are unsure what it is telling you. My gut feeling told me, after close of poll on 18 September, 2014, that we had lost, but not fatally. My gut feeling today is telling me that this is the most crucial point – the crossroads at which we either take the right road or the wrong one, and I think that Alba is pointing in the right direction even if I’m not sure why, even if it is a huge gamble. It feels right. If I’m wrong, and I could well be, I’ll give myself a good slap.

    Liked by 11 people

    1. Love that last paragraph. There is a really good profile of Nicola Sturgeon on Wings Over Scotland that chimes with your ‘sense’ of Nicola Sturgeon. If only I could remember the name of the woman who wrote it. My memory is absolutely dreadful.

      I have to confess that I didn’t get the negative vibes at all. I was totally sold. It is only with hindsight that I cringe at my credulousness. Maybe you had some of that woman’s intuition thing we don’t seem to hear so much about these days.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. I hesitate to use that expression, Peter. Not sure it exists. The feeling stayed with me, though, although I could not articulate it until very recently. I’m not saying that Nicola Sturgeon was/is not an independista, just that she didn’t convince. It was as nebulous as that. I am very sorry that it has all turned out as it has – for her and for us, and she has been a good FM in many ways, which makes it all the sadder. With Alec Salmond, there was never a moment when I thought that he would not try to take us to independence. I recall, in my previous existence, that I talked to others in th SNP, and said that I wasn’t sure he could bring in a SNP government in 2007, although I thought that he might. He did. I never doubted him after that. I don’t doubt him now. It has nothing to do with messianic cultish behaviour. He might not succeed, but I have not the slightest doubt that he will try his level best. No one can ask for more. He is what we need right now to counterbalance all the negativity.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. It was Denise Findlay that wrote that piece Peter. I don’t know how to retrieve older posts on wings otherwise I would put the link up here.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s it. Somebody else found it as well. I thought it was by Denise. Can’t think why I was unable to find it. Probably spelled her name wrong.


  5. The Manifesto for Independence offers then a way out but sadly they haven’t even discussed it nor anything similar. It’s dangerous complacency to think as they clearly do that they can continue on collecting fat salaries with the status quo as a little satrap administration: they completely underestimate the threat that Westminster represents.
    Mimicking Tory party strategies like compromising the health of the nation by repeatedly placing the interests of business first as with Covid or indeed adopting a neocon foreign policy fronted by couple of clowns like Alyn Smith and Stewart McDonald: the SNPs very own Cheech and Chong of Russo-phobia, doesn’t give them the purchase they think with Westminster: appeasement merely exposes their weakness to its predatory instincts.


    1. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Alba isn’t offering Manifesto for Independence either. They’re offering slightly more than the SNP. But not enough. And it’s one of those situations where missing by a millimetre is as bad as missing by several kilometres. You either repudiate the Section 30 process, or you don’t. You either assert the primacy of the Scottish Parliament, or you don’t. Right now we have a choice of pro-independence parties, but no choice regarding the approach taken to the constitutional issue.


      1. I think that Alec Salmond is deliberately not offering too much right now, Peter. If I have taken what he has said and understood it, I think we are looking at real disruption at Holyrood after the election (if the Alba party has elected representatives, of course). It is here that independence will be won or lost, and I believe that Alex Salmond is more than aware of the necessity of speed and the forensic execution of the roadmap to independence. From what he has said, I think that the problems with Nicola Sturgeon may have started with his criticising the timescale and inertia. There is nothing to say that we can’t force another SE before 2025/26, especially if the FM and her coterie fall soon. It is a gamble, but it could work.


  6. It seems all doom and gloom but is it?
    My intuition and gut is telling me that sturgeon will be gone about 6 months after the election.

    And who will replace her?

    That is when the real battle for Scotland’s right for self-determination will take place and it will be bloody with no quarter asked for or given.

    Then we can take on the British State


    1. I would remind you that there is no longer any internal democracy in the SNP. Unless members retake control of the party the new leader would be Angus Robertson or an Angus Robertson clone.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. More likely an Angus Robertson clone. Edinburgh Central is a Tory seat at the moment. The Greens are standing too. Then there’s the flurry of other pro-Indy candidates all fighting for that seat. Finally, Angus isn’t liked by a fair few SNP members and despised by 1000s more who know a bit about the shenanigans that have gone on recently and Angus’ part in them. I’d wager that he won’t win Edinburgh Central. If things go well for Alba, he won’t get a list seat either. It doesn’t pains me to say this, but his defeat will elicit a small cheer from me.
        I’m very pleased to see you change your tune Mr Bell. As someone who joined the ISP, I found your attitude to them intensely annoying. I always recognised that they needed some big beasts to get any sort of recognition and that was always going to be difficult. The emergence of Alba makes all of that academic, so I’m pleased that you and I seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet now. I haven’t read much of your work recently. I’m back though, so keep up the excellent work.


  7. What I find more baffling is that Sky now have a poll showing SNP will win nearly every first seat 53%. On the list they are on 44%! That 44% might produce 1 list msp , and Alba are on 2%!

    Whats the purpose of voting twice, if you are to stupid to see your second vote is wasted.

    It would be fine leaving the SNP to win every 1st seat and have no list msps. But the problem with that. Is that the SNP have no intention of using their majority.

    They need to be forced by opposition indy msps. We need to make Alba a force in Holywood, or we can forget independence.

    Liked by 1 person

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