The poisoned chalice

Looking at the polling for the SNP leadership election in The National, two thoughts immediately occur to me. The first is that there is clearly no unifying candidate. There is no candidate who, should they win, wouldn’t be unpopular with almost as many people as favour them. What that graphic shows is pretty much the definition of a ‘split’. The second thought is to wonder why the hell any of the candidates would want to emerge as the victor in this horribly tainted election. They are inevitable going to be at the head of a party and movement both desperately in need of effective leadership, but with no credibility and all the makings of worsening internal strife.

The successful candidate will face a massive task in repairing the party and restoring the movement. But they will be without the necessary authority and support. None of the candidates is going to reverse the precipitous decline in membership. Each will deter as many as they attract. Personally, I would seriously consider rejoining the SNP in the unlikely event that Ash Regan were to win. But I know that vanishingly few among the old guard and the Sturgeonistas will be prepared to give her a chance.

Humza Yousaf appears to be oblivious to the problems that would face him if he should become party leader and First Minister. His record suggests that he will almost certainly be overwhelmed from day one. Kate Forbes was fine when Nicola Sturgeon had her back. But can she cope when her back becomes the target for a multitude of knives? I seriously doubt it.

It seems that there is no outcome which does not spell disaster for the SNP. It seems to be only a question of whether it is a catastrophic disaster or merely a major disaster. The election may produce a leader. But they won’t be in charge. They won’t be in control. There is a gruesome irony in the fact that Nicola’s Sturgeon’s control-freakery has ultimately left the SNP rudderless. Who would be the captain of that ship?

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23 thoughts on “The poisoned chalice

  1. Yousaf is likely to stroll it because of the disinfo early in the campaign, when we can assume most votes were cast. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as he can take the brickbats while Regan and Cherry build a base for another challenge later in the year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I suspect you are right, Peter. However, that was the state of the Irish Party, of Redmond, after 1918, with Sinn Fein not strong enough to compensate. It took a wee while, with major hostility from the Irish people as a whole (until brutal British tactics scunnered them), until Sinn Fein emerged as the dominant force in Irish politics. I am not suggesting that we go down the armed struggle route – far from it – but I do believe that circumstances are going to propel either a new SNP or ALBA forward. However, that will not happen without substantial metaphorical bloodshed within the SNP and between the SNP and ALBA. Take my advice, Peter, and do not rejoin the SNP – yet, at any rate. It is going to get very, very ugly. It has to happen, so we should let it happen, depressing and sad as it is. The Sturgeonite faction allied to the ‘trans’ lobby have eviscerated the party – deliberately – rather than allow Scotland to confront its future. These two factions are as stupid, venal and dangerous as each other, and you are right about both Humza and Kate in that neither has the mettle nor smeddum to stand up to this crew. Only Ash can do that. She reminds me strongly of the two women at the head of the present Sinn Fein, North and South. I know we are not Ireland, but this split cannot be healed by ordinary means now and we have to prepare for worse to come – much worse. The Sturgeonites, comfy slippers, ‘trans’ lobby and others have ensured that the party will be riven apart – they set the scene and they care not a jot for the sensibilities of anyone else. Just let it happen. What emerges from the ashes will be worth it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The problem with letting it happen, as you put it, is that this leaves those currently in power to ‘settle;’ things in their own way. The way that keeps them in power. There’s a real dilemma in this. There’s precious little that can be done from within the party and even less from outside.

      It is in the nature of conventional (or prevailing) power that it defines the space in which a countervailing power must operate. The Irish example descended into armed conflict because that is the space that the British state defined. They have form on that. The space for a countervailing power within the SNP is problematic. To the extent that it has been defined, it is small and narrow. But there is no countervailing power to push at the limits of that space. It can’t take discernible form until it is filled ─ like a balloon. When that happens, the countervailing power starts to find the weak spots in the walls of the confining space, pushing at those weak spots until it changes the shape of the space and thereby its own shape.

      There cannot be a countervailing power without leadership. These things don’t tend to form spontaneously. And waiting in the hope that they do is hardly an option. My hope is that once the election is out of the way, Ash Regan can be the point around which a countervailing power coalesces. I’ve had similar hopes in the past. I’ve always been disappointed.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You have made my point, Peter. I was not suggesting that nothing is done and we all stand around waiting. As in the Irish situation someone did arise to fill the leadership gap, two, in fact, if not more (Griffiths, Collins, De Valera, and so on) and we do not want that either. So, we either form a new nucleus around Ash Regan, as you say, even those of us who are no longer SNP members, as she is likely to draw in support from all the independence parties. I have a feeling that whoever is elected now will not last long, and the strongest leader will emerge eventually, or we look elsewhere for a revival of the independence movement. That is what I meant by letting it happen.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. The one big caveat about the poll is that it is not a poll of SNP members. But if these numbers are similar to those of SNP voters, then it surely points to a clear Kate Forbes win in the 2nd round as Ash Regan is eliminated and her 2nd preferences go predominantly to Forbes. I don’t suppose we’ll ever see the results in the same details as in local authority elections where 1st 2nd & 3rd (and subsequent) preferences are published for all candidates , but these numbers – as well as the total of votes cast – would be of interest to the geeks among us, as well as the candidates.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As I replied to Stephen Duncan BTL on The National

      “How might a poll of members be possible? How would the polling company select a representative sample without the kind of information the senior management isn’t inclined to give even to the NEC and elected officers.”

      Only the party could conduct a poll of members. Having seen how they go about that, I reckon we’re better with the poll we’ve got.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. If it is assumed that SNP members are influenced by opinion polls of SNP voters and the public at large, and make their choice in relation to this, then the poll MAY bear some resemblance to the (SNP membership) electorate’s views on 1st preferences. That’s a big proviso though.

        The other thing is that, as Geoff Bush says, the poll does not take into account 2nd preferences and how they may be allocated at the second stage (on the probably very sound assumption that there will be one with no candidate likely to get over 50% of the vote in round 1). This could mean, for example, a massive win for one of the 2 surviving candidates in round 2 when they were neck and neck at the end of round 1.

        But, yes Peter, I wouldn’t want the party HQ to be carrying out any survey sampling. It would probably result in a fiddle or muddle. In fact given their form to date it would probably be a fuddle.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I think you underestimate Kate Forbes, she’s hard as nails and well able, even today she’s acting as though she’s already FM, being almost too late to affect the voting. from the Yousaf propaganda organ National:

    SNP leadership candidate Kate Forbes has pledged to scrap controversial plans to ban all forms of commercial and recreational fishing in significant stretches of Scotland’s waters.

    Forbes said she will instead commission a feasibility study into devolving marine protection and inshore fisheries powers to local authorities, if she is elected first minister next week.

    This is totally consistent with her other economy driven policies so far, whereas Yousaf hears someone else say something and says “I want some of that”. No ideas of his own. Fishing including leisure fishing is probably more than 10% of Scotland’s economy, considering the tourism it brings, and some clowns want to bankrupt us. No prizes for guessing who.

    Regan impresses me, and I’d like Forbes to appoint her as Constitutional Secretary, and maybe even DFM, with Mckee as Finance Secretary (or DFM).

    To be honest, if Yousaf gets elected it’s all over for 30 years and I’m off to see if it’s not too late to go hill-walking again. Small ones first!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Glad there’s some posters below the line on the National that actually know what they’re talking about rather than knee-jerking inappropriate ideology. Here’s part of one good posting:

      The current proposal smacks of city dwelling politicians making decisions about parts of Scotland they do not understand, …


      Liked by 1 person

  5. The rats left on board the doomed SS SNP will ring as much personal benefit out of its last journey as they can. The next captain won’t survive the mutiny ( if it’s Regan); will increase speed towards the rocks (if it’s Yousaf); or go round in ever decreasing circles (if it’s Forbes).

    In this scenario the rats could prefer Forbes, who could keep the ship floating longest even though holed beneath the waterline.

    So any of the three could want their moment of glory and the attached pension a la Truss.

    It’s a bit like asking if you would go into a boxing ring with Mike Tyson and last 10 seconds. For £5000,000. there will always be takers.

    The best metaphor for the SNP at the moment is that boat which keeled over in the dry dock. It’s going to take a whole lot of repairing before it even sets sail again. Assuming it’s not beyond economical repair.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I think you are right Peter, that the winner will have little authority (and even less respect). This could have been avoided had the contest not been so rushed (giving the challengers time to get organised properly and acquainted with the members) or at least restarted after last weekends nonsense with membership numbers etc. I’m disappointed that team Forbes didn’t support Regan to insist on a restart. Now even if she wins there is a bad smell of “business as usual” (thank you, Mr Russell). I’m prepared to give her a chance in spite of this if she wins. Regan as FM with Forbes running finance would have been a perfect outcome, sadly unlikely. One can but hope that Humza Yousaf doesn’t get anywhere near a ministerial post again. If he wins next week, all he’ll breaks loose IMO.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. What sticks out to me in that graph is that Ash has the highest Dont Knows by quite a margin which suggests to me people didn’t know her so the payrolls media blackout of her was successful, and if the election had either restarted or went the distance it should have went she might have stood a fair chance

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Have you considered that a split might be best thing for the SNP , as long as it’s a political party with specific policies it can’t appeal to all the voting public simultaneously, especially nowadays!
    Having pro-indy parties of left , right and centre to counteract the Unionist ones makes a lot of sense. After all , it’s where we would be after a successful dissolution.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve addressed this point many times. What has to be borne in mind is that until independence is restored, we are operating within the British political system ─ where it’s all about brute power. Winner takes all, and there’s no second-place prize. The British way is not the way of coalitions and cooperation and consensus-building. The British way is that all power is concentrated in one party.

      This is not to say that your idea is a bad one, per se. It might even work. But in the British system any kind of division is a weakness that will be exploited. divide the mandate among a number of parties and you create vulnerabilities.

      I have also previously noted that in order to break the Union it might be necessary to give extraordinary power to a single party. The whole ‘supermajority’ notion peddled by Alba was totally wrong-headed. It is not the parliamentary arithmetic that matters. Once you have a majority, that’s it! There is nothing you can do with a majority of 20 that you can’t do with a majority of 2. What matters is the nature of the mandate. That is why I urged that n the 2021 Holyrood election we try to engineer a ‘supermandate’.

      A supermandate would be a pro-independence party ─ necessarily the SNP at this time ─ elected on a #ManifestoForIndependence with a safe working majority and >50% of both ballots. That would be political strength as the British define it and therefore all the more difficult for them to discount.

      But nobody listens to me.

      Liked by 4 people

  9. Terry: the party will have to be cleansed from within over a short period or it will wither from the lack of any movement towards independence. It is less that the various factions have allowed the party to split into many parts than that they have singularly and on a united front done all in their power to actually prevent any forward motion on independence, each for its own ends.

    Still, we have the deluded in the pages of The National who believe that it is possible to advance ‘trans’ ‘rights’, as if all the women who have left the party were just bigots and fools, and it has all been a blip. It is these people who are the problem. Self-ID is so dangerous to women and children that it cannot, in all conscience, be allowed to continue to legislation, and it is actually an extension to existing rights based on a total lack of evidence for ‘trans’.

    These advocates for anarchy and totalitarianism are opposed to nationalism, and they always have been. You cannot be a cultural Marxist and a nationalist because the two are entirely incompatible. That is where it has all gone pear-shaped: these people only ever wanted to use a successful, governing party to achieve THEIR ends, not ours. To leave them all in place would be a mistake on a grand scale and signal the end of the party. In the end, it may come to that.

    I have yet to meet a working-class person who is on the far left as these anti democrats are; on the left, yes, but not the far left. Their ideology is the preserve of the semi-educated, pampered middle-class who seek to save the working-class from itself, and are as dangerous to working-class values as they are to nationalism.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. No idea what the internet-bubble craze for Thermometer Regan is about. I read an article by her that was total gobledegook, and watched an interview where she spent most of the time asking the interviewer questions. Her independence plans are indecipherable, she appears to be economically right-wing, she comes across as a climate-change denier, and she thinks that changing election rules in the middle of an election is a good idea. Either she has very little to communicate, or her communication skills are abysmal.

    She strikes me as a nutter. She may as well have an orange complexion and wierd hair.


  11. The SNP has had plenty of chances to restore independence. Under NS, they allowed themselves to be bribed into becoming little more than well-heeled administrators of the Scottish colony. They must be so infiltrated with unionists now that a vote for the SNP is a vote for the union.

    Possibly the best political outcome of the current situation would be to hold a snap election that delivers a majority of independence-supporting MSPs to Holyrood but without the unhealthy hegemony of a toothless SNP.

    IMO, we don’t have time to wait for the SNP to regenerate itself from the ashes left behind by NS, we need a majority of elected representatives both at Holyrood and Westminster with enough fire in their bellies to take the fight to the international courts and return us to nationhood as quickly as possible.

    Craig Murray outlines the actions required very well in this presentation

    We have an inalienable right to determine our own destiny as a country. Our political parties need not be bound by the Scotland Act, they should be prepared to stand up for Scotland’s rights on the international stage and be prepared to face the consequences of that hard fight or face the consequences of political oblivion.

    As well as this, Salvo/Liberation Scotland needs to pick up the pace. As Alf Baird and others have pointed out, career politicians are normally well behind the curve when the mood of the nation is changing. It is probable that we will proceed further and quicker with a Liberation Movement than a gaggle of comfortably upholstered politicians.

    My own choice for Scotland’s next FM would be Sara Salyers.


      1. Ha ha! I just thought she’d shake things up a bit – especially the judiciary!

        But you’ve got a point – she’s too good for that cesspit.

        Mibbe ye’d dae yersel’!?


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