Two things strike me as perplexing about the question splashed across the front page of The National today. The first is that “how do we win the No voters over to Yes?” is still being asked in March 2023. The second is that in March 2023 the SNP still has no clear or persuasive answer to the question. The three candidates for role of party leader respond to the question in a manner that hasn’t changed for a decade. It’s as if the matter has been given no consideration since the launch of the Yes campaign for the 2014 referendum. Which is an entirely accurate impression. Within the SNP, there has been no debate about how the party and/or the wider independence movement should go about the task of increasing support for independence. It was simply assumed that the ‘positive vision’ approach that had seen support for Yes increase by around 50% in the course of the first referendum campaign would continue to be effective.
By 2017 it was obvious to any dispassionate observer that selling independence as if it was a time-share villa in Marbella wasn’t working. But by that time the SNP leadership couldn’t acknowledge this without admitting that they’d got it badly wrong. They weren’t about to do that. The abject failure to develop an effective strategy had to be disguised. To this end, a number of tactics were deployed. The crudest of these was simply to lie and claim that support for independence was steadily increasing. The ‘never closer to independence’ nonsense is an example of this deceit.
Another tactic was to divert attention with things like Brexit. The campaign for independence was quietly sidelined in favour of a campaign to stop Brexit. Then there were the ‘new initiatives’ launched one after another to great fanfare. These never came to anything. But they served their purpose in that they provided a pretext for waiting to see what became of them. All the time there was the background drone of blaming others for the lack of progress. See Pete Wishart and his demented diatribes against the ‘Yes bloggers’ he accused of holding back the campaign by pointing out the lack of progress the campaign was making.
And, of course, there was the #WheeshtForIndy mob of Sturgeon/SNP loyalists and apologists. It was hardly an environment conducive to open debate. Which suited the SNP leadership fine as open debate was the very last thing they wanted.
All of this is well-known, even if still stridently denied by those loyalists and apologists. What is newly disappointing is the failure to seize on Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation as an opportunity to start afresh. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in hoping that Sturgeon’s departure would unleash a torrent of long pent novel thinking and fresh ideas about how the fight to restore Scotland’s independence might be conducted henceforth. The candidates’ responses to the question “how do we win the No voters over to Yes?” have pretty much put paid to that hope.
In this regard, Ash Regan has been the most disappointing of the three. I don’t think anybody had high expectations of the other two. Certainly not of the ‘continuity’ (continue to fail) candidate, Humza Yousaf. Neither he nor Kate Forbes were ever going to come up with any radical new ideas ─ the latter because she is not inclined; the former because he’s not capable. If there was to be any boldness, it was going to have to come from Ash Regan. Thus far, we have seen no more than faint and fleeting impressions of this much needed boldness. There have been moments when Ash Regan seemed but a sentence away from declaring a total break with the Sturgeon doctrine. The promise has not so far been fulfilled.
Of course, it’s easy for me to say that Ash Regan should ‘go for it’. I’m not the one trying to carve out a career in politics. But it is surely not hugely controversial to say that Ms Regan has little to lose, relative to the potential gain. She is the outsider in this race. (And in other senses?) I’ve no doubt she is in it to win it. But informed comment has to date been rating her chances very low. There is little doubt that Ash has the capacity for boldness. Her proposals for internal reform are sufficient to have the present party hierarchy breaking out in a panicky sweat. She has not held back in he ‘Action Plan’. It would be gratifying to see some of that boldness manifest in her thinking on how to proceed towards the restoration of Scotland’s independence.
Again, the signs are there of a potential to be daring. Her willingness to relegate the ‘economic case’ in favour of building confidence is promising. But while she criticises the other contenders for running with the “same ideas as last time”, she herself is still talking about things like currency long after there ceased to be anything new to be said on that subject. The idea of a “readiness thermometer” is a silly gimmick. The “voter empowerment mechanism” is a great slogan. But in reality it is simply a rebranding of the ‘de facto referendum’ idea that is starting to be greeted with some skepticism after a first flush of enthusiasm. As appears to be ruling out a ‘negotiated referendum’. But boldness demands that she be a lot more explicit about repudiating the Section 30 process.
There is unlikely to be a better opportunity to challenge the orthodoxy which has left Scotland’s cause moribund for eight years and counting. There is nobody better placed than Ash Regan to mount this challenge. I cling to the hope that she may realise in time that this is her moment. Win or lose the leadership contest, this is her chance to be the disruptor that Scotland’s cause requires. Even without becoming leader, her boldness now could have far reaching effects within the party and the independence campaign.
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13 thoughts on “A want of daring”
Reblogged this on Ramblings of a now 60+ Female.
You are right – Ash Regan really needs to give it a lash.
She admits herself that she is the outsider, odds on not to win. So why not just go for it? In footballing parlance she should not leave the pitch without ‘leaving it all out there’.
An unconditional Independence Now based on the sovereignty of the Scottish People with a statement of intent to declare Independence post Election victory subject to ratifying referendum with rules made in Scotland would set her apart from the bland utterings of Devo Humza and Sometime Never Kate.
Even if she were not to win she might just garner sufficient support among the membership to give her influence over the party leadership post-campaign. (The latter assumes Humza doesn’t win, in which case I think the game’s up for the SNP and quite possibly Scotland’s Cause for some long while).
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But I’ll try again.
Anyways, supporters of Regan, and supporters of Forbes need to look at the National to see who it is pushing – and why. I know why, and I’m sure many of you know why as well, but you – we – are allowing ourselves to be distracted and divided by side issues which have nothing to do with Independence – like religion, Rangers, Celtic, monarchy, GRR, UKSC, you name it.
For those who don’t know who the National is pushing, look no further than its current twitter feed, and see how many of the 3 candidates got a mention on 4th March at 01.52 a.m., for what they said at the Glenrothes hustings , and how many times.
https :// twitter. com/ScotNational (remove spaces)
Look for the 1st article below the Saturday front page on the twitter, and the 7th will give you the answer, but if you can’t be bothered looking, the answer is Yousaf 2, Forbes 0, Regan 0. Or for those who are doing the establishment’s job and support Regan but oppose Forbes, here it is again: Yousaf 2, Regan, 0, Forbes 0. And that latest poll supposedly of SNP voters? On first preferences since I don’t think they ask the second:
Humza Yousaf: 31%
Kate Forbes: 25%
Ash Regan: 11%
Who wins if Regan supporters and Forbes supporters are at war with each other and don’t use your second preferences at all?
Now think carefully about this, not just who do you want to win, but who do you want to lose the most, considering that with STV the 2nd preferences of the first candidate to be eliminated will be added to one or other of the 2 candidates – that is of course, if people haven’t taken part in the divide and conquer of the establishment party and its tame media, and refused to make their 2nd preferences.
Or just let yourselves be taken in by the time old divide and conquer.
Oh, and by the way, as a Forbes supporter the best comment at those hustings was made by Regan when she invoked the spirit of the Indy ref and the YES badges, and the grief afterwards at the NO vote – when by the way, the SNP membership rose from 25,500 to 125,000.
Remember those days? Yes, me too, don’t they seem a long time ago now. Almost 316 years, to be precise.
Mmm, it appeared that time, there’s maybe a filter on r4ngers and ce1tic.
There’s maybe a filter on a couple of words.
Incidentally, Yes, the GRRB was no distraction for the women of Scotland. Until everyone gets their heads round that, we are not going to get independence any time soon. If you want a shot at independence, get rid of the bloody GRRB, followed by a clearing out of the deadwood – the SNP ‘wokerati’ and the Greens, unless they make independence a priority. Then go for broke, with two parallel routes of attack: the international/legal and the political. If we have an inalienable right to independence – and we do – then stop apologising to anyone.
Shout it from the rooftops and get the international nod to prove it. As you are getting that, fight the political battle: no S30 Order, no referendum till after independence has been declared (a ratifying referendum only because a pre independence referendum is not mandatory in either international law or domestic constitutional law, and it is unlikely we could win, considering what is against us).
Go for the seats and votes, with all independence party votes counting. Make it plain to the UN, even as we spell out our case (SALVO and SSRG have done sterling work here) that a large portion of the rUK vote in Scotland hampers our independence bids, and that we will take our case to the floor of the UN if we lose again through the votes of those who, along with the Scottish Unionists, are determined to weld us into the Union.
That point must be hammered home to rUK voters: that we will never stop bidding for independence, so, if they want to live in Scotland but vote against its interests at every election, they must be prepared to undergo an independence bid at every election. We will not give up. Personally, I think if one of the candidates stated categorically that the GRRB is dead in the water and no legal challenge will be countenanced and that, from now on, all policies will be presented from the angle of Scottish well-being for all residents, regardless of origins, it would go a long way to healing the damage caused by the ‘wokerati’ infiltrators.
Furthermore, the ‘trans’ community can have an easy-ish GRC, but one that does not hand them legal womanhood status, that entitles them to the legal fiction with very stringent parameters: all statistics and data kept, as for anyone else; no entry to female spaces, services, sex-specific jobs, sports, healthcare, etc.; and no propaganda in schools. No point whatsoever in independence if we are hidebound by booby traps. The law is the law. Start laying it down as it is, not as Stonewall tells us it is, which is lie built upon lie, because, if not, independence will be destroyed by the self-same people who have all but destroyed the SNP. Playing pussyfoot with saboteurs is a game too far.
Very possibly Lorna, but my point was that the National is pushing Yousaf like there’s no tomorrow, because it has been nearly totally taken over by the “woke” , AND it’s adding even more to its numbers of “woke” columnists. So the National is placing Independence last – its original purpose for coming into existence, an existence I helped by putting large bundles of subscription leaflets into first the YES bar in Drury Lane on the actual day of its launch, second, places in my local area, and then third in places I regularly visit all over Scotland, having scanned and then printed hundreds more.
And with Indy last on its list, it’s putting GRR and other “woke” issues at the top. And being extremely blatant about it too. The SNP leadership election is the turning point for Independence, and, indeed, continuity won’t cut it, it’ll kill it till 2050 at the earliest. Nor will the continuity hot air balloon cut it. Great rousing speaker at an Indy rally is his place, not leader.
 Personally i refuse to use these minority additions to the language.
I agree about The National. Every day now, the ‘wokerati’ are in the ascendancy, but – and it ‘s a massive BUT – The National is out of tune with reality in the same way that ‘trans’ ideology is in that this is not how people think. They are pandering to a one-sided anti reality movement that will fall very soon because not even the vast sums of American money sustaining it at present will be enough to save it when the first brick is displaced. Like the Berlin Wall: first a crack, then a cascade of mortar and bricks, although there is little enough mortar to hold this ordure together.
That is why, in Ash Regan’s position, I’d go for broke: let the wider electorate know that you are prepared to kick the GRRB into touch because it is based on a totally false premise that men can ever be women; they can only ever be ‘trans women’, whatever that is. Independence will be put at the top of the agenda once again and the party will rediscover its soul. I would put it out there that the SNP was captured by the hard left – basically, cultural Marxists, and no Marxist ever espoused independence. Then I would make it known that the party will undergo an overhaul to cleanse itself of this parasitical infestation piggy-backing on independence and power, using independista votes to do so.
She might not win this time, but, boy, will everyone know that change is coming and coming big. Personally, I think she might well win with a radical agenda to take our case furth of Scotland and the UK, all the way to the UN. The middle of the road is no use now, the same old-same old is no use now. We need radical thinking. Some youth would be lost, as would some of the ‘wokerati’, and the Greens might decamp, but the party would be the better for it because it would signal a way back to real Scottish Nationalism again. If this isn’t done, women will walk, the SNP will die and will give way, not to Unionism, but to a far more determined form of nationalism that will brook no Unionist or rUK opposition. We would be looking at a Scottish form of Ireland all over again, and this has been warned about for a number of years now. So very few politicians these days have the intellectual clout to be able to understand when a population is on the cusp of having had enough and to act on that before it is too late.
Excellent post , Lorna . Would that the current candidates had a fraction of your passion & insight ( into what MUST , unavoidably be done ) . The only positive outcome of a Forbes * victory * may be the exit of the * gender * lunatic …. well , I was going to say fringe , but in terms of who seems to hold most sway in Nu SNP , they are front & centre : hopefully , taking all the hangers-on , grifters & Nu Labour arrivistes with them , along with the swelling ranks of ” advisers ” , paid Yes Men/Women and – in particular – the idiot Greens .
Let’s see how strongly held are those * principals * & ” red lines ” when faced with a choice of standing by them or losing their generous salaries , perks and – in the case of the Greens , the taste of power gifted to them by the equally idiot Nu SNP hierarchy . I suspect the only way they’ll give-up their place on the good ship HMS Gravy is when it hits the rocks and starts going under . Something we may not have long to wait for .
I take your points re Ash Regan here , P . FWIW , I’m prepared to cut her a bit of slack , given the sudden and drastically truncated nature of the campaign , lack of resources and the clear attempt to marginalise her by SNP HQ & MSM
The SNP membership rose because people from Labour, in particular, and who believed in independence moved across, but, with them moved the hard left ‘wokerati’ who now infest the party of independence. What good did the rise in membership do when so many were infiltrators with very little adherence to independence, yes? It’s like saying that Noah was so happy that all the animals came aboard, but amongst them were termites and wood-eating fungi. These infiltrators came AFTER we had just lost the NO vote. Had they come before, and in good faith, we would have won on the day.
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Regan is to all intents and purposes the ‘alternative’ candidate and as you indicate requires to boldly promote an alternative policy narrative that will ‘ginger up’ the thought processes of those within the SNP who might still remain ‘loyal’ to the concept of FIGHTING for our Independence as opposed to that of the candidates who prefer to grovelingly beg Westminster’s consent.
If Yousaf OR Forbes become the new leader of the SNP then Regan’s loss will be as nothing to the grave blow that will be dealt to Scotland’s aspiration’s to gaining Independence anytime soon.
REGAN ‘BOLDER FOR SCOTLAND’? The SNP membership must demand that!
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Ash Regan seems to be in it now only as a “stop Humza” candidate. She could be seen as having done a good job if she helps in stopping him getting 50%+ in the first round, and persuading her supporters to back Forbes in the second.
Assuming ( big if) that a fair contest will be held.
That would at least avoid total meltdown of the SNP. Hardly a prize worth winning though, so why not give it to Humza and watch the crash unfold?
Glass a quarter full, or three quarters empty at best, whatever the result.
“How do we win over No voters”
Postcolonial theory tells us that a colonially oppressed people develop a colonial mindset, which is a psychological condition requiring difficult treatment; and there is only one cure – liberation.
It also tells us that the independence leaders fail to ‘undertake a reasoned study of colonial society’ and because of this political weakness the peoples ‘understanding remains rudimentary’. The leadership and the people therefore have to better understand the nature of their oppression as the raison detre of independence and decolonization: