Friday, May 10, 2019

An all-out independence push would have been better, but 'Stop Brexit' is still a far more inspiring message than 'Stronger for Scotland' was

There were two obvious possibilities for the SNP's pitch in the European elections - they could either make it all about independence and seek a 'quadruple lock mandate' for an independence referendum, or they could urge Remain voters to use the SNP as a vehicle to stop Brexit.  It's clear from the campaign launch that they've plumped full-bloodedly for the latter option.  There's a paradox here, because that may well prove to be a strategically sound decision from the SNP's own party interests - it does seem intuitively likely that favourable showings in recent opinion polls can be partly attributed to the clarity of the 'stop Brexit' message, and after all the Remain constituency in Scotland is somewhat bigger than the Yes constituency.  But ultimately the SNP exist to bring about independence, and any strategy that maximises the party's support while squandering an opportunity to win an independence-specific mandate may be counterproductive in the long-run.

It's important to stress, however, that this doesn't mean that the SNP have entirely failed to learn the lesson of the 2017 general election.  One reason why refusing to campaign hard on independence in 2017 was such a mistake was because there was no alternative message that was going to inspire people to go to the polling stations - all we had was the vague "Stronger for Scotland", which couldn't even begin to compete with the directness of the Tories' "No to Indyref 2" as a get-out-the-vote device.  This time, the alternative to a straightforward independence pitch does have every chance of capturing people's imaginations.  And because it's only a couple of weeks since Nicola Sturgeon restated her intention to hold a pre-2021 independence referendum, a good result for the SNP is bound to be seen as some kind of endorsement of an indyref, regardless of the exact campaign message.  So although I would have preferred this election to be used for an in-your-face push towards independence, it's fair to say I can live with the decision that's been made.

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Somebody posted the Euro ballot paper on Twitter, and what leapt out at me is that Nigel Farage appears to have missed a trick by registering his party name as "The Brexit Party" rather than "Brexit Party", which means he misses out on being top of the ballot on alphabetical order.  (I had actually been assuming for months that one of the main reasons he chose the name was precisely because it started with a 'B'.)  Instead, pride of place goes to Change UK, whose presence on the ballot as an independent force may spell trouble for the Liberal Democrats.  I wouldn't by any means dismiss the Lib Dems' chances of nicking a seat in Scotland - although their success in the English local elections was wildly exaggerated, they'll still have gained momentum from the way in which it was reported.  But they're fishing in the same pond as Change UK - both parties appeal to hardline Remain voters who oppose independence, and if that vote is split, it could make it much harder for the Lib Dems to reach the de facto threshold for a Scottish seat, which in turn could create an opening for other parties (including the SNP).


  1. Although campaigning on the 'Stop Brexit' ticket, voters will still be supporting a party openly commuted to Indyref2 so arguably those votes might reasonably be portrayed as also being tacit support for the wider position.

  2. It would be a bit stupid to make the EU elections all about indy.

    That would be just asking for 'But the Greens + SNP got less than 50% of the vote!"

    The EU elections are generally about the EU; unless Con+UKIP+Brexit get 50%+, then Scotland will have voted to cancel brexit or at least have some sort of new referendum on any deal as Labour keep saying they are offering.

    1. Some would argue it "would be a bit stupid" NOT to make an election all about indy when the Westminster government is committing the democratic outrage of refusing a Section 30 order. There's certainly scope for a difference of views on that point.

    2. Every election should be a chance to point out Scotland's weakness in the Union.
      Otherwise the Brit nats just claim that people vote SNP for various reasons.
      We lost 21 MP's by soft pedalling on independence. We should never ever make that mistake again.

  3. Tories won the by-election in Haddington and Lammermuir. Labour vote sharply down, with everyone else profiting.

    Con - 2212 (35.0%, +6)
    SNP - 1866 (29.5%, +3.5)
    Lab - 1359 (21.5%, -12.2)
    Lib Dem - 774 (12.2%, +5)
    UKIP - 108 (1.7%, +1.7)

    1. Gap between Con and SNP narrowed slightly after the votes of other parties were redistributed. Tories led by 346 on first preferences, then won by 290 after the transfers.

      Con - 2759 (43.7%, +10.0)
      SNP - 2469 (39.1%, +39.1%)
      Didn't Transfer - 1091 (17.3%, -4.4%)

      Conservative elected at stage 5.

  4. N. Ireland moving to joint Irish-British control as brexit draws near.

    Given the province will be remaining in the single market / full free movement zone (to preserve the GFA), increasing Irish government control is inevitable.

    The USA intervention I guess was the final straw for the English nats; no trade deal with either the EU or the USA would ruin a brexited UK. And so N. Ireland will get to stay fully 'in', with the border down the Irish sea.

    This is why the DUP have vanished from the news; they've been dumped.

    The disintegration of unionist parties / alliances accelerates, and with this the end of the union.

    1. I should add that this also suggests a Lab-Con formal coalition must be pretty close. The N. Irish issue needs resolved by brexit day, with it starting it's own journey towards the republic.

      Given unionist parties have lost power there now at all levels, and Remain parties hold sway, there's nothing the former can do really.

      As for the Lab-Con negotiations... sure both will pretend to be at loggerheads right to the end, but they really need to sign this or England is plunged into utter chaos with them suffering electoral destruction. Working together gives them the best chance of retaining their historic joint grip on power, and that they (Corbyn at least on the labour side) both get the brexit they desire.

    2. Do you think Irish reunification will play to the independence vote in Scotland? They've done it so why don't we just go the whole hog? Or will it just affect Ireland? I'm not that ecstatic about the "end of the union" if it shakes down so Scotland is still a colony of England.

  5. A get out and vote message for us all.

    1. You sound like your out the closet all ready. Mrs Lady Man.