A ‘promising’ proposal

It takes a lot of flawed thinking to believe in the magical powers of these new pop-up list parties and their cunning plans to game the voting system. But that’s OK. Because there are myriad ways for thinking to be flawed. I shall mention just three. Let’s call them.

  • Arithmetic/plan conflation
  • Virtue by association
  • Partial assessment

To illustrate the first of these, let me put a proposition to you. I want every pro-independence voter to give me £100. I plan to accumulate £100,000,000. I then plan on using this to get another £100,000,000. I will then have £200,000,000 which I will use to do whatever each of you considers to be your most favoured amazing and wonderful things.

How many of you immediately reached for the ‘Pay Now’ button? Probably not many. Your first instinct would be to ask questions about the plan. My response is to insist that you look at the arithmetic. Given the number of pro-independence voters it is perfectly feasible to raise £100,000.000 in the way I propose. And look at the amazing and wonderful things! £100,000,000 plus £100,000,000 is £200,000,000. And look at the amazing and wonderful things! The arithmetic checks out. And look at the amazing and wonderful things!

If your thinking isn’t flawed, you recognise that the arithmetic and the plan are quite separate and different things and that the fact the arithmetic works doesn’t mean the plan works. You also recognise that however amazing and wonderful the promise it is worthless if it isn’t connected to the proposal by a viable plan.

The kind of flawed thinking I’ve called virtue by association is the rich vein of human folly which confidence tricksters and political charlatans throughout the ages have sought to mine. The mother lode of mindlessness. Having lent their proposal superficial and spurious credibility by quoting some numbers that add up, the shyster will then produce the promise – an outcome described using an array of constantly repeated glittering generalities. Glittering generalities are words and phrases laden with positive connotations and associations but with no substance or core meaning. Glittering generalities – often combined with plausible science or mathematics – is the language of dishonest politics and dubious marketing.

The idea is that having impressed with the unarguable science (or arithmetic), the snake-oil salesman of instructional fable then dazzles the dupe with a promise that blazes with the light of a million suns so that they fail to notice the absence of any plan linking the proposal to the promise. No mapped path from one to the other.

A marketing phrase which neatly combines the plausible science with the glittering generality is ‘Up to 100% effective!’. This pill is ‘up to 100% effective in relieving pain’. This disinfectant kills ‘up to 100% of known household germs’ (note too the additional qualifiers ‘known’ and ‘household’). This snake-oil is ‘up to 100% effective in curing up to 100% of the ailments listed’.

This tactical voting strategy is ‘up to 100% effective in ensuring more pro-independence MSPs and/or fewer Unionist MSPs!’. And if you have any lingering doubts about the promise, just look at the proposal! Look at the arithmetic! Look at how the arithmetic works! Look at how amazing and wonderful the promise is! Just don’t look for the plan that connects the proposal to the promise. And if you do look for that plan and fail to find it then that is because you fail to understand the arithmetic and/or you don’t value the promised outcome as you would if you were a true believer.

Anyone who has sought to engage with proponents of pop-up list parties will find something eerily familiar in the foregoing.

Partial assessment describes the flawed thinking that the snake-oil salesman (other gender identities are available) is seeking to exploit. What matters to the shyster and the political propagandist alike is not only what the target audience/market/constituency thinks about what’s being sold but what they don’t think about at all. The ‘other stuff’. The stuff that is not covered by either the proposal or the promise. The implications and consequences that flow from the entire package – incomplete as that entire package may be.

Partial assessment involves weighing the proposed solution to a problem – which may or may not be real or as serious as it is made out to be – only against the promise attached to it. It involves excluding all negatives. All the pros and none of the cons. Well! Maybe one very trivial con just for appearances.

The word ‘partial’ is relevant in both its sense of ‘incomplete’ and its sense of ‘favouring’. Never mind the quality! Feel the width! Never mind the risk! Look at the prize! Don’t think about what you stand to lose! Look at what you might win!

Charlatans have descended on Scotland’s politics the way pickpockets descend on tourist hot-spots. Frustration with the SNP attracts power-hungry chancers like blood in the water attracts flesh-hungry sharks. Opportunity breeds exploitation. A fox with a full belly will try to catch and kill anything which is both edible and available. Individuals driven by ambition and factions driven by ideology will scavenge for power wherever it may be found. If sufficiently driven, they will resort to any means to seize the smallest scrap of power. Just as long as it isn’t power of the type or in the measure which brings with it responsibility.

It takes a lot of flawed thinking to believe in the magical powers of these new pop-up list parties and their cunning plans. It takes only a little rational thinking to see though the scam. For Scotland’s sake, make sure rationality wins.



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Lost comment

I posted a comment yesterday on a thread started by one of those cunning plan cult people in which I pointed out a few things that needed to be pointed out despite being perfectly obvious to anybody who care to think about things. As far as I can determine, that thread has now been deleted. In anticipation of this very thing, I kept a copy of the comment. It saves me having to do it all again.

A perfect example of thinking only as far as leaves your preferred conclusion intact. You don’t even address the ‘gamble’ aspects of the issue. Which is understandable given that you want everybody else to ignore that gamble. It hardly suits your purposes to draw further attention to it by addressing concerns about it. You disregard the problematic bits of the arithmetic. And you disregard the fact that politics is about more than just arithmetic. There’s the people stuff!

There is no evidence that the [SNP] parliamentary party is “losing us support”. And I never said or implied that it was. That’s because, unlike you, I am honest. I’m not pretending you said stuff that you didn’t. You’d do well to lose that habit. It makes you look very like the kind of sleekit politician you claim you don’t want to be.

In the reality which causes you such inconvenience, support for the SNP is currently at extraordinary levels. And if it’s not rising that’s probably because it has no further to go.

But let’s get back to that constrained thinking. The thinking which doesn’t include questioning your own prejudices, preconceptions and assumptions. Take this comment for example.

The parliament is largely useless as a means to gain independence, unless enough independence MSPS are elected, to push the SNP into more urgent action.

Again, we have a politician’s trick. State something that is true then associate with it something that is at best highly dubious or unproved and at worst a deception or a lie. The first part of the above statement is totally true. In terms of the constitutional issue – which MUST be separated from matters of policy – the Scottish Parliament is useless without a majority committed to a process that will lead to the restoration of Scotland’s independence.

But then you try to piggy-back on this statement of evident truth the highly contentious – but for you very convenient – notion that the desirable outcome suggested in the first part of the statement is achievable by doing precisely what it is that you want to do. Sensible persons should be immediately suspicious. It’s just too convenient – for you!

In order to dissect the dubious claim we must make some very bold assumptions. And that is an understatement. We must assume that it is actually possible to game the electoral system in such a way as to get elected the “independence MSPS” that just happen to be the ones you are promoting. This involves ignoring realpolitik. Which I’m never comfortable doing. But needs must.

Forcing ourselves to remain blind to all the difficulties involved, we assume you have been successful in getting those non-SNP MSPs into the Scottish Parliament. You now expect us to just accept that this is the only or best way to “push the SNP into more urgent action”. You hijack the truth of the first part of the statement and use it to give a lick of truthiness to the thing you want others to believe.

But what if we don’t just give up thinking at this point. What if we choose to scrape off the varnish of truthiness to examine what lies beneath. (Pun unapologetically intended.)

The fact that the SNP needs to be pushed necessarily implies that they have won the election with enough seats to form the administration. It also necessarily implies that they are in a sufficiently strong position to take that “more urgent action”. But if the SNP is in such a strong position, how might they be pushed? You seem to be suggesting that those cunning plan party (CPP) MSP’s would hold some sort of parliamentary threat over the head of the SNP administration. A threat which could only be to withhold support for all or part of the program on which the SNP was elected.

You are asking voters, having voted for a party on the basis of its manifesto, to then vote for a ‘party’ which intends to block – or threaten to block – the very program for which they are voting. How stupid do you think voters are?

Think it through and what you find is that these CPP MSPs can only be either redundant or irrelevant. If there is an SNP administration committed to a Manifesto for Independence, they are redundant. Because there is already the commitment and the numbers needed to act on that commitment. If there is an SNP administration still committed to the Section 30 process or, nightmare scenario, no SNP administration at all, then the CCP MSPs can’t put any pressure on that administration without behaving in a way that will outrage the voters and delight the British Nationalists.

Let’s finish by taking the true part of your comment and thinking it through rather more thoroughly than you find ‘helpful’. Clearly, we do need an SNP administration. And we need that administration to have renounced the Section 30 process. But is it not obvious when you actually THINK about it that the SNP has to renounce the Section 30 process BEFORE the election. The party can’t go into the election talking about the Section 30 process only to drop it after having been elected on that basis.

Additionally, the more effective political power the SNP has the better it will be able to implement an alternative process. So, those of us who are thinking in terms of Scotland’s cause rather than our own political careers ask what best achieves this. What best enhances the effective political power of the SNP administration?

The answer is obvious. Mandate! The bigger the mandate, the better equipped the Scottish Government is to confront the British state – as it must. The mandate is measured in votes. So it follows that the more votes the SNP gets, the more powerfully armed it is for the fight. You want to take votes away from the SNP. You want to weaken that mandate. (And FFS! don’t start going on about unused mandates. That’s the past. We’re discussing a totally different situation.)

I want the SNP to have that huge mandate. That big stick to wave at the British political elite. You want to siphon off some of that power for yourself. Fuck you!

Thinking rationally about the best imaginable outcome of the election in terms of Scotland’s cause that would be an SNP majority government, committed to a Manifesto for Independence and armed with over 50% of the vote on both ballots. THAT would be the lever we need. THAT is what we should be aiming for.

THAT is where you get to when you think it through with Scotland’s cause at the forefront of your mind.



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Conveniently unchangeable

Here you come upon the important fact that every revolutionary opinion draws part of its strength from a secret conviction that nothing can be changed.

George Orwell – The Road to Wigan Pier

George Orwell can always be relied on for a thought-provoking quote. It’s many, many years since I read The Road to Wigan Pier, so I can’t claim to have any recollection of this little aphorism. I encountered it in some corner of the web that I wandered into on one of my virtual sojourns. Don’t ask me where. But it must have made an impression because it was still rattling about in my head a couple of days later. Almost as if it was nagging me for attention. So I’m giving it some that was going spare.

Having given it some thought I think I now know why these words lodged so stubbornly in my mind. It will hardly surprise anyone to hear that for “revolutionary opinion” I immediately read “restoration of Scotland’s independence”. I reckon advocating the abolition of the Union counts as a revolutionary opinion. Unionists certainly seem to think of it as such. But it was this idea of such views drawing strength from futility that I found simultaneously intriguingly counter-intuitive and strangely familiar. The feeling that it should be wrong, but isn’t.

I know it isn’t wrong because it relates to something in my own experience. Something I’d been puzzling about in some nook or cranny of my cluttered mind for some time. When no less a figure than George Orwell urges you to drag a thought out into the light for a bit of scrutiny, what else can you do?

In fact it didn’t take much scrutiny to figure out why this quote spoke to me as it did. For some time there’s been something curious going on in the minds of some Yes activists. I refer to the people who believe they are part of something which has the power to transform Scotland having defeated the efforts of the British state to preserve the Union. People, moreover, who reckon they can manipulate the voting system so as to win list seats and do something useful for the independence campaign once in Holyrood. These are people endowed with an uncommon belief in themselves. People convinced that they possess powers extending to the borders of the supernatural.

However, suggest to these people that they might usefully apply this power to restoring the essential political arm of the independence movement and mighty is the scoffing. Can’t be done! They won’t listen! They’ll never change! The only thing that distinguishes their conviction that nothing can be changed from that referred to by George Orwell is that it is far from secret. They’ll proclaim the inherent incorrigibility and innate immutability of the SNP leadership at the drop of a Tweet. They will reject outright any possibility of altering by so much as the proverbial bawhair the SNP’s approach to the constitutional issue. And do so at the same time as insisting they can take a new party from a standing start to somewhere over 10% of the vote in a single election. All as part of a project which aims to do nothing less than save an entire nation from the scourge of rabid British nationalism.

Am I the only one who sees a contradiction here?

What Orwell’s insight did was start me wondering whether there might be some kind of positive, constructive tension in this contradiction. Even if it was no more than the kind of cussed contrariness which bids people of a certain character to defy the odds. Could the ‘cunning plans’ of the list parties be drawing strength from a conviction that nothing can ever change the SNP? Or is it more likely that they have found it necessary to convince themselves of the absolute intransigence of the SNP leadership in order to rationalise their ‘cunning plans’ to game the voting system? Plans which only make sense if the SNP isn’t part of the calculation.

I think Eric Blair (George Orwell) was on the right track, but slightly wide of the mark. Revolutionary opinion draws part of its strength not from the conviction that nothing can change, but from the expedient conviction that alternatives to that revolutionary opinion are infeasible. If one has set upon a particular position or course of action – or ‘cunning plan’ – then it is rather convenient to hold the view that competing positions and alternative courses of action are unworthy of consideration.



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To a Cunning Plan Cultist…

You fall for the old ‘more is always better’ fallacy. 6 pints of beer is ALWAYS better than 1 pint of beer in your calculations. More thoughtful calculation, however, takes due account of the fact that you only have one glass. Once it is filled, the other five pints are no use to you. They end up spilt on the floor and no use to anybody.

You have decided the goal is to get as many pro-independence MSPs as possible. I have decided the goal is to get Scotland’s independence restored. We are never going to agree because your objective is not my objective. What is important to you is not important to me.

Even if your cunning plan was as cunning as the dogma claims it is, it’s a cunning plan to flood the Scottish Parliament with pro-independence MSPs. It is NOT a plan to get independence. If the outcome sought is action taken in the Scottish Parliament for the purpose of restoring Scotland’s independence then your cunning plan doesn’t do that even if it succeeds in achieving the goal that you have set – lots and lots of pro-independence MSPs. If only you were thinking in terms of restoring independence and what that requires then it would be immediately obvious that flooding Holyrood with pro-independence list MSPs does not serve that goal. In terms of what is needed to get independence, those additional pro-independence MSPs are entirely redundant. As scientists would say, they are neither necessary nor sufficient.

As I said, my priority is restoring Scotland’s independence. I am not obsessing about getting the maximum possible number of MSP’s. These are two entirely different projects. You have a cunning plan to achieve your goal. I have a very straightforward plan to achieve mine. Your cunning plan requires something not far short of a political miracle in order to succeed, and even then it succeeds only in putting more pro-independence MSPs in the Scottish Parliament. For you, that is success. My plan aims, not at flooding the chamber with indy-friendly MSP’s, but at forcing the action which brings about the restoration of Scotland’s independence. For me, success is a Scottish Government acting through the Scottish Parliament to end the Union. What I have called #ScottishUDI.

I think my goal is more important than yours. More importantly, my goal is definitely achievable while yours is only doubtfully achievable. Most importantly of all my goal gets independence. Your goal doesn’t.

You have failed to properly analyse the problem, so obviously you’ve come up with the wrong solution. You think the problem is a lack of pro-independence MSPs and that the problem can be solved with a cunning plan to get more of them. In fact, the problem is the lack of a Scottish Government with the political will and the testicular capacity to take the necessary action in the Scottish Parliament. That problem is solved, not by flooding Holyrood with pro-independence MSP’s but by a simple majority of pro-independence MSPs willing to take the necessary action.

Without that – without an SNP administration committed to #ScottishUDI in some form, all those pro-independence list MSPs can do absolutely fuck all to bring about the restoration of Scotland’s independence. Not one fucking thing! They are not SUFFICIENT. And that SNP administration needs only an overall majority of one to initiate #ScottishUDI. So your additional list MSPs are not NECESSARY.

Again, the Yes movement most certainly has a part to play. On one thing the cunning plan cultists are correct. I totally agree that, as things stand, the SNP cannot be relied upon to initiate #ScottishUDI. THAT is what we have to change. NOT the number of MSPs in favour of #ScottishUDI. So long as that number is one more than the British parties squatting in Scotland’s Parliament, we’re golden! Only the Yes movement has the potential political clout to force the SNP to commit to #ScottishUDI prior to the next Holyrood elections. And the Yes movement’s potential to do this can only be realised if it speaks with one voice and does not divert any of its energies to any cunning plans.



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A response

The following started as a response to a comment on an earlier article by someone I assume to be Stu Campbell of Wings Over Scotland. If I have misidentified the individual in question then I apologise to both the parties concerned and to my readers. As you can see, the comment turned into a bit of an outpouring. I make no apology for this. I would only ask that as you read it you are mindful of its somewhat accidental origins. I intend this to be my last comment on the issue of ‘list parties’ and ‘cunning plans’ in general. We’ll see.

Recipe for success

It is to be expected that many of those who have been taken in by the novelty of the list party fantasy will resolve the conflict with their support for independence by convincing themselves that encouraging voters to abandon the SNP cannot possibly have any ‘unfortunate’ consequences. They are absolutely persuaded of the efficacy of their magic solution and cannot tolerate that being questioned. Not even in their own minds. Especially not in their own minds.

Life’s experience has taught me to be extremely wary of such evangelical fervour. I find cynicism a more substantial shield than delusion.

We saw – and still find – this near-religious belief in consequence-free action among those I have branded ‘The Postponers’. That is to say, those who adhere to Pete Wishart’s faith in the existence of an ‘Optimum Time’ (for a new independence referendum) which will come to us as surely as the dawn if only we take patience to a ‘higher plane’ where it morphs into a kind of intellectual hibernation. Just as ‘The Postponers’ will not entertain questions about the implications of delay, so believers in the pure power of the list party cannot abide to have their dogma challenged.

But those of us who are disinclined to abandon their intellectual capacity for the false comfort of religious faith realise that actions always have consequences. And that, especially dealing with people, and even more so when dealing with people en masse, there is no necessary mechanical relationship between the action and its consequences. People are complicated. Relationships between and among people are complicated. The relationships between deeds and their effects could hardly be the exception that the faithful need theirs to be.

The consequences for Scotland’s cause of abandoning the SNP as the lever by which our nation’s independence will be restored are potentially catastrophic. To contemplate any action which has this effect must be to gamble with the cause. One might sensibly argue that the consequences are minor. One cannot sensibly assert the absence of any consequences. To sensibly argue that the consequences are minor one would necessarily have to identify those consequences and make a persuasive case for them being trivial. One would also be obliged to rule out all other possible and possibly more serious consequences. This would be a rational response to those who question the proposed action. This would, in fact, be the rational approach to formulating the proposal. Healthy cynicism bids one question everything, first and foremost one’s own preconceptions and prejudices.

This is most assuredly not what is happening either in the case of the indefinite postponement of a new referendum or as regards a list party ‘strategy’ to flood the Scottish Parliament with pro-independence MSPs.

The list party strategy is being sold entirely and exclusively on the basis of a presumed highly desirable effect. Look at this wonderful outcome! Would you like to have this wonderful outcome? Then do as we say without question! The strategy is presumed to be ‘The Solution’ in the same way that the Union is presumed by Unionists to be the ideal constitutional settlement. Its wondrousness does not have to be proved. It just is!

I’m not buying it! Being more open-minded than adherents to the faith, I accept that it is possible the strategy might work. If absolutely everything goes as its proponents insist it will and if absolutely nothing deviates from that in the slightest way there is a theoretical possibility that the outcome might be some approximation of that which is promised. Being a cynic, however, I am bound to observe that this would not be characteristic of the real world. If things don’t always go wrong then the precautionary principle demands that we assume many things will go wrong. We plan for reality. No matter how dull and boring that may be.

I am an ‘ordinary’ person to the same extent that any of us conform to such a standard. I am a citizen of Scotland and a voter. I am not untypical of the people who must be persuaded if the list party strategy is to have any chance of working in the way its advocates insist it will. Not only am I not persuaded, but no effort is being made to persuade me. The list party strategy is being sold to me, but nobody is making a persuasive rational case for it. It is being sold to me in the same way as online adverts try to sell solutions which will transform your ten-year-old Dell laptop into a super-computer. Look at what it does! Don’t ask how it does it! And definitely don’t wonder out loud how something powerful enough to do what is promised can have no side-effects.

Open as I am to the idea that the list party strategy might work in something like the way promised I cannot accept that it is the ideal solution. Because not being blinkered by a prior commitment to this novel strategy I am unable to ignore the other strategy. The one we’ve had for as long as might as well be forever. The one we have used before. The one that is tried and tested. The one that has been examined and scrutinised and interrogated and found to have no significant deleterious consequences. The one which, even if it hasn’t been entirely successful up to now, at least has a well-established potential to bring success. Nobody, as far as I can tell, is arguing that using the SNP as the tool with which to restore Scotland’s independence cannot work. Nobody – other perhaps that the odd obvious nutter – is suggesting that using this tool that we have already fashioned for the purpose would risk catastrophe for Scotland’s cause. The thing about using the SNP as has always been the intention is that if it fails, it fails safe.

That there are problems with the SNP is undeniable. I would be the last person to deny it. I have hardly been anyone’s idea of the party loyalist. But I don’t look at the faults and failings and immediately assume the tool is fucked beyond any possible utility. I ask WHY it is not working. Or has not worked. And I conclude that it hasn’t worked because we are not using it properly. As is so often the case, it’s user-error. Rectify the user-error and we have the powerful tool we need. It is not necessary to go running around looking for an alternative. What we have is perfectly adequate for the task. What we have would be ideal if we applied our energies to deploying it in such a way as to realise its potential. And if it still fails, it fails safe. Or at least relatively safe.

I ask questions. All the time, I ask questions. I hope and strive to ask every possible question. And to recognise every possible answer. That won’t happen. But I find it a useful way of approaching problems. For example, I ask what is the worst possible outcome of the next Scottish Parliament election. (I trust we’re all agreed that this should be our focus at the moment.) I identify the worst possible outcome as the British parties retaking control of our Parliament. That is the stuff of nightmares for anyone who cares about Scotland. The alternative to an SNP administration is a ‘Scottish’ Tory government serving its masters in London without the slightest regard for the interests of the people of Scotland. It’s a no-brainer! Whatever else the Yes movement does as a force in Scottish politics we MUST ensure a decisive win for the SNP in 2021 – or whenever the election is held.

This is so important, so crucial, that it must be the focus of all our energies. We simply cannot afford to give the slightest impression that it is not vital to vote SNP. It doesn’t matter if we’re saying its OK not to vote SNP in the regional vote only, there is no way of avoiding this message spilling over into the constituency campaign. That is just one of the consequences that the list party advocates decline to address. It is a consequence which cannot sensibly be dismissed, The situation is such that even a small negative effect on the SNP vote could have massive implications.

Naturally, I also ask what would be the best outcome of the next Holyrood election. The outcome I, would wish for both in the context of good governance and in consideration of the fight to restore Scotland’s independence. The outcome I identify is a massive victory for the SNP. A substantial majority necessarily made up of both constituency and regional seats. Ideally, 50%+ in both votes. Thus we create the lever that will be strong enough to break open the British state and allow Scotland to escape the Union.

It is the only way we can create such a lever. Even if the list strategy worked perfectly and didn’t lose us the pro-independence majority and SNP administration it’s outcome would not produce a lever such as the SNP might be. We are working within the British political system. We have no choice but to do so. That is what there is until we can create and fully implement a system of our own. The British political system responds only to brute strength. It is vulnerable only to brute strength as typified by first-past-the-post, winner-take-all elections. It follows that in order to break the British state in the ways that we must be strong according to the criteria recognised by the British political system. That means channelling all our strength through one party. And only the SNP can serve this purpose.

This is not a proposal for a one-party state as some exceptionally shallow people may shrilly insist. It is a one-party solution to a particular problem. A problem which cannot otherwise be resolved.

A ‘Rainbow Parliament’ may sound wonderful. There is good reason to suppose it would be wonderful. Or pretty good. There is cause to suppose this is what will arise as Scotland develops a distinctive political ethos. But a multi-party situation would be utterly useless to the independence movement. Worse than useless. It would maximise potential divisions of the kind that the British political elite is so adept at exploiting. It just wouldn’t have the clout. It wouldn’t work. So, even if the list party strategy succeeds in it own terms, it inevitably fails in terms of restoring Scotland’s independence. And there’s always the other consequences – up to and including the risk of losing the SNP administration and/or the pro-independence majority, both of which are vital.

The worst thing about the alternative party proposals is not the disregarded potential consequences. The worst this is not the risk involved. The worst thing is that it is pointless. It is unnecessary. It serves no purpose. Not so long as we have and use the SNP. The worst thing is not that the tool we’re being offered is a very poor tool. The worst thing is that we are being asked to shun the tool that we know with something approaching absolute certainty can be effective if we use it well!

In arguing for the novelty of their wondrous solution the advocates of the various ‘cunning plans’ that have proliferated since 2014 point with bitterness at the SNP’s failures over that same period. The opportunities that have been missed. This argument only has persuasive power to the extent that we assume the SNP is necessarily like this. That it must inevitably fail us. That it will always miss opportunities. That the way things have been is the way they must always be. That the Yes movement – including SNP members – lacks the power to change things. If that is the case, Scotland’s cause is doomed.

If the Yes movement lacks the power to influence its own de facto political arm what possible hope might there be that we might influence affairs such as to bring our government home and build a better Scotland and create a better society and follow our aspirations rather than being driven by our fears. If we cannot harness the effective political power of the SNP in the service of Scotland’s cause then the question must be asked whether we are even fit to call ourselves the sovereign people of Scotland.



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Warning!

The following formed part of a comment on an article I posted earlier today. My emphasis.

Clearly the list parties are a gamble but given nothing has happened in the past five years then blowing an election term or two to experiment with list parties might just be worth it.

This follows a couple of days of comments on Twitter which, while less explicit, helped reinforce the impression that the idea of handing the government of Scotland to the British Tories has already been normalised to an extent which is of very great concern to those of us who care about Scotland at least as much as we care about some narrow political agenda.

This casual, flippant acceptance of allowing the Scottish Parliament to fall back into the hands of those who would see it crippled or destroyed derives principally, if not entirely, from the promotion of so-called ‘list parties’. It is an essential part of the message being peddled by or on behalf of these parties that ‘it’s OK not to vote SNP’. This is supported by a generalised and escalating denigration of the SNP which, however justified it may be in certain specific regards, tends to obscure the fact that the single most important objective of the independence movement in relation to the next Holyrood election is ensuring the biggest win possible for the SNP.

To put an SNP administration in jeopardy on the vanishingly remote chance of getting a seat or two for some list party or parties is just plain madness. To gamble our Parliament on a bit of dubious electoral jiggery-pokery is sheer insanity. To fatally undermine the SNP at this time REGARDLESS OF ANY FAULTS OR FAILURES is tantamount to a betrayal of Scotland of the same order as that which was perpetrated in 1707.

The inanity spouted by Alyn Smith and others about ‘never closer to independence’ makes a vague kind of sense in one regard only. We have an opportunity such as has not arisen previously and such as must not be squandered as so many opportunities have over the past five years. The chance is there to use the SNP as the lever to prise Scotland out of the accursed Union. Many factors have conspired to create unprecedentedly propitious conditions. But it only works if we use the SNP.

I find it remarkable – were I given to conspiracy theories I might say suspicious – that it is precisely at this moment of unique and almost certainly never to be repeated opportunity that we are being actively encouraged to withdraw support from the SNP and turn to some cobbled-together ‘alternative’. When within the Yes movement we have people opining that a decade or more of ‘Scottish’ Tory rule “might just be worth it” something is seriously amiss.



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