The barren, unchanging landscape

There are three points that your resident realist must make about The National’s predictably breathless report of the latest polling before the Sturgeon claque arrives littering the place with streamers and drowning out all pragmatism with their shrill fantasies and hymns to the anointed one. Firstly, noting Professor John Curtice’s comments regarding the fall in support for the Union, we must conclude that even if The National’s spin about support for independence being “at an all time high” is afforded credence, it would seem that none of the credit for this falls to Nicola Sturgeon, her government or her party. While it seems indisputable that, as Curtice says, “the Union has certainly become decidedly less popular north of the Border”, this is evidently due to factors external to Scotland’s own independence campaign ─ such as it is.

What must also be noted, however, is that this is the British Social Attitudes Survey (BSA) and not a ‘snapshot’ opinion poll. While the latter reflect short-term fluctuations in the local political weather ─ Sturgeon’s early handling of the Covid situation, for example ─ the former is designed to eliminate such transitory influences. For this reason, we can be confident that what the BSA shows is genuine change in attitudes to the current constitutional arrangements absent the distorting effect of fickle public opinion regarding any party or politician.

The inescapable conclusion which will nonetheless be assiduously avoided by Sturgeon/SNP loyalists, is that while support for independence has apparently increased relative to support for the Union, none of this change is accounted for by anything the SNP/Scottish Government has done under Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership.

Accepting that there has been an increase in support for independence we are bound to ask how significant is the actual amount of increase. Or at least some of us are bound to ask this. As ever, many will not even trouble to consider the matter. Many (but fewer than previously?) will simply accept The National’s characterisation of the thing and break out the champagne while having a whip-round to buy an even higher pedestal on which to place their hero. The BSA now puts support for independence at 52%. This is self-evidently a good thing as far as Scotland’s cause is concerned. But how good?

The answer to that is, not very. The BSA merely confirms what is indicated by averaging the opinion polls over any period since Sturgeon became SNP leader, First Minister and de facto head of the independence movement. Allowing for the customary margin of error, support for independence has not changed at all since 2014. Yes has languished at and around 50% for eight years. The SNP has done nothing to advance Scotland’s cause in all of that time. And, it must be acknowledged, neither has anybody else.

While the Sturgeon/SNP loyalists work themselves into a lather of excitement over nothing of any consequence, more sober heads are asking why the hell support for independence isn’t at least ten points higher. By the SNP’s own account, the British state has been creating the ideal circumstances for the idea of restoring Scotland’s independence to flourish. By that same account, the behaviour of the British government over those eight years has been driving support for Yes. If that is true, then it falls to the SNP to explain the total absence of any evidence for this effect. If as they claim, the British state has been acting as a ‘recruiting sergeant’ for the Yes campaign, who or what is countering this by driving those imagined new recruits away before their conversion can register on the polls?

My final point is this: Assuming support for independence across the electorate is above 50%, what good does this do for the fight to restore Scotland’s independence? How might Scotland’s cause benefit from the fact that more than half the sovereign people of Scotland want an end to the accursed Union and a return to constitutional normality?

The depressing reality is that it does Scotland’s cause no good whatever. Absent a process by which to connect that majority support to a democratic event which stands as a formal exercise of Scotland’s right of self-determination, it matters not a jot how large that majority is ─ nothing changes.

No such process exists. No such process is in prospect. No such process is being proposed. There are no plans for this process. No preparation has been made.

Sturgeon’s entire approach to the constitutional issue has been a massive failure. Perhaps as much as half the Yes movement persists in celebrating that failure as if it were some great triumph. What will it take to rouse them from their blinkered complacency?

Maybe if The National started asking some of the awkward questions and pointing out more of the true state of things? Would that help?

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20 thoughts on “The barren, unchanging landscape

  1. As suspected the usual keypad pressers that dominate comments btl at The National are out in force:

    It’s Nicola, she’s pure dead brilliant, so she is!
    Truss can’t deny us (just like Johnson and May before them couldn’t … apparently)!
    We’re at 52%, the referendum (sic) will be a scoosh!


    Liked by 7 people

  2. ” all time high ” YEY ! ….wait , wasn’t there a higher ” all time high ” a while back ? I’m sure it reached the dizzying heights of 53/4 % YES not so long ago – or was it 58% ? I could have imagined that , wandering lost in the forest of the National’s ” we’re gonnae win the cup , we’re gonnae win the ( egg ) cup ” Panglossian front pages .
    Maybe this ” all time high ” is just the * highest * since yisterday efternin ?

    Whatever … you say , it makes not the slightest difference in the absence of a REAL Independence-securing strategy .

    Update * . Support for YES has soared to 52 n a hof % !!

    We’re gonnae win the lottery , we’re gonnae win the lottery , e i adio , we’re gonnae win the lottery

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Support for indy crossing the 50% threshold will upset Sturgeon, however every cloud has a silver lining as they say, and she can use the 50%+ to garner more support for her party.

    On the indy masses, I find it remarkable that the union/media and its Scottish puppet Sturgeon has thrown everything at us, except the kitchen sink, including persecuting prominent indy bloggers , yet we will not go away, nor will our number fall below the 47% mark.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. support for independence has not changed at all since 2014


    SSAS (BSA) 2014:
    Independence – 33%
    Devolution – 50%

    SSAS (BSA) 2015:
    Independence – 39%
    Devolution – 49%

    SSAS (BSA) 2021:
    Independence – 52%
    Devolution – 38%

    In what alternate universe does 52% equal 33%, or even 39%?

    In what mirror universe does 38% for devolution, equal 50% or 49%?

    Of course it’s changed, SSAS is indeed the “Gold standard” of polling. And it shows that supporters for Devolution have moved over to being supporters of Independence.


    1. I think few other people fail so comically to understand that the SSAS is very different from opinion polling. What I was pointing out in the article which as usual you have either not bothered to read or abysmally failed to comprehend, is that the longitudinal study has merely caught up with the opinion polls. They have inevitably converged on the same point – circa 50% – because that is where support for independence is stuck.

      I suspect that has gone way over your head as well. It’s like conversing with a mollusc.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I think few other people fail so comically to understand that the SSAS is very different from opinion polling.

        That should be “other opinion polling”, and that is quite correct.

        The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey contains questions AND polls. But you can’t compare it against regular opinion polls such as you have tried to do, for other reasons, and that invalidates the whole basis of your article.

        You can bluster and bully as much as you like, you’re still out of your depth. Do some research on NatCen / WhatScotlandThinks, and get a 4 by 2 for a change.


        1. One might have thought that someone who professes to be seeking to increase support for independence would be most concerned to discover why support was not increasing. Not you. All you appear to be interested in some some silly point-scoring game.

          My mistake, of course, is to occassionally make the error of treating you as if you were someone whose prime interest was the restoration of Scotland’s independence. I really should know better.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Oh dear, wrong again. Your article is mince, and if you were literate and read my opening posting you’d understand I don’t agree with you that support for independence is not increasing. In fact on a multi-choice SSAS polling question (i.e. not a straight choice), Independence has increased since Sturgeon became leader in 2014 from 33% to 52%. Hurray!

            This is a sampling indication you ignore as it doesn’t fit your doom and gloom agenda which I don’t share TBTF. And of course you have proven yourself before to be innumerate and statistically ignorant.

            You’re the sort of person who’d see an article in the National about Chi2 and student’s t, and go off on one complaining about how the stupidity and heartlessness of the National writer expected #Chi2 and #An2 to breed in #captivity in a #zoo, and how students didn’t drink tea they got #ratfaced every night.

            Ho hum, if only you had a Spiegel so you could reach for your colouring crayons to colour in by numbers.

            Anyways, I only came back as I was waiting for the 2021 BSA / SSAS, and had a look around to see what nonsense was being said by the Unionists. I found yours instead, and sought to give any casual reader of your blog some correct info. I wouldn’t bother with you otherwise, you’re a lost cause looking for a lost cause.


  5. The recent Scottish Census may indicate why the Yes vote is stalling, which is no doubt the reason the data is being hidden and may still be hidden until if/when a referendum occurs. Frantz Fanon described the desire for independence as primarily a “cultural emotion”, which is obviously influenced by demographic change and Cultural Imperialism in any colonial environment. Even the SNP leader thinks of herself as culturally British, which demonstrates the power of Cultural Imperialism, or confusion as to what self-determination nationalism means.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. There’s a one-word explanation for why the Yes vote has stalled. Time! The sheer size and diversity of the Yes support always meant that it was susceptible to internal volatility. This was held in check by the common purpose of the Yes campaign. I’ve often said that the British state has two ways of dealing with threats to it’s structures of power, privilege and patronage – crush or absorb. But there is a third way – wait. Highly dynamic and therefore very volatile political movements have a relatively short half-life. Once the control rods of a common purpose are removed, and absent something to replace them, a runaway fission reaction inevitably ensues.

      The Brits knew that if they just strung things out long enough then the Yes movement would go the way of all large organisations – or sociopolitical entities – that lack the cohesion and direction provided by effective leadership. Of course, it would have been a different matter had that effective leadership existed. But the Brits either had Sturgeon figured better than many of us, or they just got lucky in that she turned out to have priorities which precluded effective leadership of the Yes movement. Principally, these priorities are personal ambition and an almost pathological need for control. That which she does not control she perceives as the enemy. This, as increasing numbers are realising, was never a person suited to leadership of a mass political movement.

      Time did the rest. By early 2015 I had guesstimated that if the constitutional issue was not satisfactorily resolved by late 2018, then it would all start going to fuck very rapidly. I didn’t state this quite so explicitly at the time for obvious reasons. Nobody in 2015 would have believed that the Yes movement could degenerate in the way it has. And there were plenty other reasons to push for #Referendum2018. There simply was no upside to starting a row about where the Yes movement was headed.

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Spot-on analysis of the main reason for the stasis ….better , the atrophy , of what used to be known as the Independence Movement , Peter – ie Character , the flawed nature thereof NS . From day one of her * ascension * it was clear it was ALL going to about N.I.C.O.L.A… ie ….a personality – based approach ; which quickly , and very predictably became a personality cult . She , like many other suspect * personalities * ” had a good Referendum campaign ” ( if one doesn’t look too deeply or , like most , had no knowledge of goings on behind the scenes ) and the decision was made this would be the central * strategy * . It , again , quickly and predictably became obvious this was to be the ONLY * strategy * – the sub-strategies of S30 fetishising , handing control of our fate to WM and above all ….waiting for permission , waiting for the shape of Brexit , waiting for the outcome of Covid , waiting until the stars aligned to produce a magic number of favourable Poll results – all flowed from the fundamental error .

        Godot has come and gone in the interim : only the ” Messiah ” is as tardy as any meaningful Independence Campaign . That so many believe the latter is incarnate in NS merely reflects the depth of the delusion

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “There’s a one-word explanation for why the Yes vote has stalled.”


        Colonialism means many things but includes factors which act to block independence such as: external political control; nationalist party co-opted by imperial power; cultural and linguistic imperialism (results in colonial mindset); ongoing long-term population displacement/plantation; etc.

        The desire for/against independence is a ‘cultural emotion’, hence is influenced primarily by our dominant culture (Scottish or ‘Brutish’?) and its ‘values’ – and with colonialism, human values are hard to find. People don’t necessarily vote for what is in their best interests (e.g. Brexit?), they vote in line with their values, which are determined by their dominant culture – the latter also heavily influenced by where they come from, social group/wealth, education, language etc.

        Postcolonial theory predicts the major ‘rupture’ in an independence movement which is caused by the co-operation (and ‘petrification’) of the dominant national party with the imperial power. Holyrood/SG is a colonial administration efter aw, which as we see enacts ‘mystifying’ policies to make it look busy, behaves ‘like a gang’, builds up its pensions, and hounds so-called ‘radicals’ who seek more urgency towards liberation, all of which moves us ever closer toward the root of colonialism, which is fascism.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Indeed Alf .

          If one formed Postcolonial Theory into a 3d blueprint and superimposed it onto Nu SNP’s * Road To Independence * blueprint they would align perfectly – one indistinguishable from the other

          Liked by 2 people

  6. Peter please inform me if you have blocked my comments because I questioned your use of Wikipedia.


    1. Self-evidently, you have not been blocked. I don’t block people lightly. I regard it as the ‘nuclear option’. I certainly wouldn’t block someone for spouting some ill-informed pish about Wikipedia.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. 175thrrco – I get postings that don’t appear with wordpress when I’ve just logged in after pressing “Post Comment”.

      I go “back” (left arrow) in my browser, find the posting, and then resubmit it with a small change so as not to get “you already posted this”. I’m using an old version of firefox to match my Windows XP I still need to use.

      Hope that helps (genuinely).


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