Weighing options

Just because something is procedurally possible doesn’t mean it is either practicable or politically sensible. What I’m seeing here is almost a rerun of the ‘supermajority’ farce started by Alba Party in the run-up to the 2021 Scottish Parliament election. The ‘supermajority’ nonsense took something that is procedurally possible – a two-thirds majority of MSPs can dissolve the parliament – and spun it as a full-blown electoral strategy. They left out of the story all the awkward bits about how close to impossible it was to achieve this ‘supermajority’ in practice. And they didn’t even attempt any kind of cost/benefit analysis. There are always cons as well as pros. In the story that was told, achieving a ‘supermajority’ and dissolving parliament could be done, therefore it should be done.

The ‘supermajority’ notion was all glittering generalities and blanking of awkward questions about feasibility and/or advisability in the real world. The fact that it just wouldn’t work was not a consideration. Anyone who attempted to scrutinise the idea or point out the flaws was dismissed with accusations of wanting to keep Unionist MSPs in Holyrood. There was no attempt to think it through. No stress-testing of the idea.

The ‘supermajority’ thing was such a poorly thought-out suggestion one was obliged to wonder about the purpose of introducing it. Given that the SNP was inevitably going to reject the patently silly notion that they should campaign for another party – effectively gift them votes – certainly made it appear that the idea was mooted only so that the SNP could be attacked for rejecting it. That there might be perfectly sound reasons for doing so was, again, something that was left out of the story.

There’s that old déjà vu feeling prompted by the idea of forcing an extraordinary general election by leaving Scotland without a government for several weeks. And at a time of economic crisis. Which is any time. It was so inevitable that the idea would be rejected that it can’t help but look like extracting the rejection was the entire purpose.

The problem is not with Keith Brown rejecting the ‘plan’ on behalf of the SNP/Scottish Government, but with the abject failure to offer a better plan. Which, if the resignation plan is as bad as Keith makes out, shouldn’t be difficult to find. Again, any thoughtful person is prompted to ask if the resignation plan is only being held up so as to bring into sharper focus the SNP total lack of anything remotely resembling strategic thinking. If that was the intention, job done!

Let’s think about this rationally. One approach is to consider what it is that you would wish for in an ideal world, then contrast this with what you stand to get from any proposed course of action. This ultimate goal tends to get obscured by a fog of suggestions relating to partial or short-term goals. We get too focused on, for example, dissolving the parliament and lose sight of what it is we hope to do with the situation once the parliament is resolved.

When I say “ultimate goal” I do not mean independence. Although that is the ultimate goal of the movement, it isn’t the ultimate goal of a plan to have the First Minister resign. This isn’t going to achieve independence. It doesn’t purport to. All it aims – or claims – to do is facilitate the process by which independence might be restored. The ultimate goal of both the ‘supermajority’ plan-like thing and the resignation plan-like thing is to facilitate the holding of a democratic event which it is hoped will facilitate another democratic event which it is hoped will start the process of restoring Scotland’s independence. It is the final democratic event that is the ultimate goal.

By definition, this democratic event must be decisive and conclusive. It must be a democratic event such as puts the will of the people of Scotland beyond doubt and beyond effective challenge. What we are talking about is a democratic even that serves as a formal exercise by the people of Scotland of our right of self-determination. Is that no what the British establishment is trying to prevent? Is that not what they are really afraid of? So afraid that they will try to block any kind of democratic event that is or might become that exercise of our right of self-determination.

A plebiscitary election is not good enough. When what we want and need is to exercise our right of self-determination, an election simply will not suffice. An election cannot be binary. It cannot be unequivocally binary. So, it cannot serve to satisfactorily answer a binary question. The exercise of our right of self-determination for the purpose of determining our nation’s political status has to be binary in order to produce a decisive outcome.

Dissolving the parliament, whether with a ‘supermajority’ or by means of the government resigning causes a considerable amount of upheaval. It has to be worth it. If it led to an opportunity to exercise our right of self-determination, any amount of upheaval would surely be worth it. But it doesn’t. The best it gets us is a theoretically plebiscitary election which is nowhere near good enough for our purpose. We are talking about a lot of cost in the form of disruption for little benefit in terms of the kind of democratic event that is our ultimate aim.

Then there’s the risk factor. We know that the British want to rein-in the Scottish Parliament and roll back devolution and reimpose direct rule. They’ve been happy to do this by stealth up until quite recently. They have gradually become more openly aggressive. Leaving Scotland without a government might be too tempting an opportunity for them. They might decide to just go for it and put Alister ‘Union’ Jack in charge as an ’emergency’ measure. There is nothing to prevent the British government ‘suspending’ the Scottish Parliament. It seems daft to leave them an opening.

The risk is great. The reward is anything but. We really can’t criticise the SNP for not getting lured into the resignation ploy. But we can definitely criticise them in the strongest terms for having no ploy of their own prepared.



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12 thoughts on “Weighing options

  1. Mngg yerr, sprntfg months, grtpud fermingulip years, nggrat ha ha ha never

    Eh? Slap slap, phew, sorry, what a nightmare, I thought I was a spokesperson for the SNP.

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  2. While an election is not ideal for independence, due to the blurring of issues, if a party is elected on an unambiguous manifesto for direct independence (and not on a manifesto to have an independence referendum) I see no reason to see that as insufficient.

    However, it seems improbable, perhaps implausible, that any party would campaign on such an unambiguous manifesto, without muddying the waters with other policies.

    If the SNP were to have clarity on what they would campaign on for the ‘plebiscitary election’ then perhaps forcing an early Holyrood election would be the optimal choice: I am currently convinced by James Kelly’s comparison of a Holyrood vs a Westminster plebiscite.

    Unless the SNP provide that clarity then I agree Holyrood shenanigans would serve little to no useful purpose. It seems wrong to think they couldn’t serve the elsewhere described purpose however. As ever, we must make the SNP act more strongly for independence.

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  3. Peter: I am also of the mind that a GE based on a binary question will not be feasible. For that, it would have to be a SE, and, probably, an extraordinary one, at that. The suggestion that people vote for the party of their choice, with the extra label attached of also voting for independence directly, and not for a future pre independence referendum, is perfectly feasible, so that every vote and seat is clearly one for independence. No voter need be in any doubt that he or she is voting for, e.g., Unity for Scotland. That, of course, would avoid the SNP’s 1 & 2 strategy that was such a failure and would also avoid people who have no time for the SNP having to ‘lend’ it their vote to do absolutely zilch all over again or to delay as much as possible.

    I will never vote for them again, whatever the inducement because they have betrayed me on both independence and on women’s rights. Sorry, if the only choice we are to be offered is voting for the SNP as last time, to be shafted royally all over again, the answer is, NO. I will abstain. Coming from me that is a huge deal as I have never believed in abstentionism, and I have supported independence – and the SNP – almost my entire life. I am sure there are many who feel as I do. I can hardly believe I am writing this. If there is no ‘Unity for Scotland’ ticket for all the independence parties, and ratified by the SNP in a loose alliance for the good of Scotland, that is it for me. People who put party and self before country are to be despised, as far as I am concerned. I accept that, pragmatically, this happens all the time, but, personally, I do not have to indulge it with my vote. They will have betrayed us all.

    Furthermore, if all the hard, dedicated work, of Salvo and the other constitutional groups is dismissed and no attempt is made to challenge on the Treaty’s consistent and illegal breaching by rUK, that’s it for me, anyway. This is, and always has been, our Trojan Horse. If we still refuse to open it up and look inside to see what might be contained within, we are just too stupid to deserve independence. All the nonsense about the Treaty being defunct is rubbish. If there is no Treaty, there is no Union. The Acts cannot, in law, replace the Treaty, no matter how many times sleekit Unionists ty to tell us this. Stop listening to the siren voices, folks. The Treaty created the Union, the Union is our bete noir, ergo examine the Treaty very, very closely. A case in the international court can quite easily run parallel to the political action. It will take some time, but I believe we can win and gain international legal recognition as well as a sound base from which to enter into negotiations which will be required to divvy up assets and resources accruing to Scotland. If rUK wishes to be the continuator state, then we will start off with no debt. I get so angry because all this could have been sorted out years ago if only the will had been there to do so. We need both the political and the legal. We always did.

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  4. In short Peter. You criticise Thes
    supet majority plan…the Plebicite plan…the s30 plan….the UDI plan. Yet with your brain you think is the size of a small planet offer to other plan. Come on man…spit it out….how iyo do we gain our independence?

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    1. Of course I criticise everything. How the fuck do you imagine ideas develop? Did you suppose they just popped fully-formed out of somebody’s head?

      I have written repeatedly about how we progress. Everybody wants their own personal explanation. They can get tae fuck! I don’t have time for that! Try Looking for the relevant articles for yourself. Research is a very valuable skill. Call it my gift to you.

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      1. I like most of your stuff…but you are a crabbit B. I dont hang on your every word and just wanted a one liner as to your plan….and no I don’t intend to Dredge up your stuff to find it….you are the one that blogs.  Sent from Samsung Mobile on O2

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        1. You wanted a complex issue dumbed-down for your personal benefit because you’re too fucking lazy to do a wee bit of searching and a wee bit of reading. You want me to pander to your fucking indolence. Why the fuck would I do that? Who the fuck do you think you are to demand that I do that?

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  5. “An election cannot be binary. It cannot be unequivocally binary. So, it cannot serve to satisfactorily answer a binary question.”

    You can’t just shout stuff like that without backing it up with some sort of reasoning or evidence.

    If everyone understands what a vote for the SNP (or whoever) means beforehand, then you can of course draw an answer to a binary question from an election. It’s not rocket science.

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    1. It’s just as well you’re not doing rocket science. It’d never get off the ground.

      Perhaps you should have looked up the word ‘binary’. It means having two states ─ up/down, in/out, on/off. The important word here is ‘two’. A vote is binary when there are no more than two options. A single question with two possible answers. As soon as a number greater than two comes into the picture, it ceases to be binary.

      It is difficult to think of any aspect of an election which is limited to two. There can, in principle, be any number of parties standing any number of candidates with any number of positions on any number of policy areas. It is safe to say that no part of an election is ever binary. Although I would hesitate to claim that it is impossible that some part of t COULD be binary, this so rarely happens that it’s not worth considering. And even if some single aspect of an election might be said to be binary, there are still all those other aspects which are not.

      It only takes one to stop two being two.

      Try thinking about what would be required to make an election truly binary. I’m betting you won’t be able to come up with a set of criteria and conditions which could apply to an election to make it binary while still passing muster as an election.

      You say you can “draw an answer to a binary question from an election”. That is correct. Politicians do it all the time. They constantly claim that a result means what they want it to mean. The result doesn’t change. But each of the parties to an election may interpret that result in a variety of ways. It is not binary. Binary means having only two possible interpretations. To be binary, it must be literally impossible for there to be more than two possible interpretations.

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