Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hosie Hosie Hoo Hah, I said Hoo Hah Hoo Hah Hosie

I've just voted for Stewart Hosie in the SNP deputy leader election. I know that won't come as any great surprise to regular readers, because I explained my thinking at the end of last month.  However, that was before Angela Constance's late entry into the race, which has given me severe pause for thought.  Her passionate pledge to ensure that the SNP never takes its eyes off the goal of an independent Scotland, and to put the party in a permanent state of readiness for the next opportunity whenever it comes, is I'm sure what all of us want to hear.  However, I think at moments like this we really have to put our faith in the basic nature of the SNP as a pro-independence party.  As Winnie Ewing memorably said : "We are all fundamentalists."  Each and every one of us is committed to full sovereign independence - the only disagreement is on the most effective tactics for getting us to the goal.  And no-one has a monopoly of wisdom on that score.  In many ways it comes down to gut instinct about what would be most likely to work.

My own gut instinct is that Stewart Hosie and Angela Constance are absolutely right to back the idea of a "Yes Alliance" at next year's general election (Keith Brown seems much less keen).  However, I'm more impressed by the clarity of Hosie's vision for that alliance, which is to push relentlessly for the devolution of all powers other than foreign affairs and defence.  If that's the path we follow, it will put the SNP in the unique position of being the only major party that has made its peace with the referendum result, and has declared itself as being on the side of the popular will as expressed on September 18th.  Because that popular will was for Devo Max.  Not for full independence (yet), but most certainly not for Labour's Devo Nano either, or for the Tories' Devo Bit More, or even for the Lib Dems' Federalism Lite.  Imagine the moral authority of a nationalist party that is the only authentic voice for a large chunk of No voters who want a devolution settlement that goes way beyond what the anti-independence parties are prepared to offer.  I gather J K Rowling said that she would vote No and then back any party that offered Devo Max - well, if the Hosie vision carries the day, we'll all be holding our breath for the inevitable £1 million donation winging its way to the SNP from Hogwarts.  (Apologies if that joke doesn't entirely make sense - as you've probably gathered, I'm not a Harry Potter fan.)

None of this means that we lose sight of the goal of independence - far from it.  Making a success of the current weak devolution model paved the way for a 45% Yes vote.  Achieving Devo Max and then making a success of it (thus comprehensively destroying almost all of the scare stories about independence) could pave the way for a comfortable victory in a second referendum.  Alternatively, if the mandate for Devo Max becomes stronger and stronger with every passing election but without any sign of Westminster acting upon it, that in itself will bring independence closer, because it will demonstrate to the electorate that the United Kingdom is utterly incapable of accommodating our legitimate aspirations for domestic self-rule.

There are two other advantages to Hosie being the deputy leader.  The first is that he is, in my view, the most charismatic of the three candidates, and also the most effective debater.  Above all else, the deputy leader is one of the party's key spokespeople - we've become used to the position being held by the most charismatic person in the party other than the leader, and I think we should probably aim to continue in that vein.  In the literal sense that means Alex Salmond should be the deputy leader, but obviously he's excluded from the equation because he'll now be the SNP's equivalent of George Foulkes as a "senior" all-purpose media go-to man.  (I know in one sense that does the First Minister the biggest disservice in history, but I'm also sure you know what I mean!)

The second advantage is that Hosie is a Westminster MP.  The dream scenario next May is that the SNP will hold the balance of power with 15, 20 or even 30 seats, and will be able to negotiate a deal with Labour that would simultaneously get the Tories out and deliver Devo Max (or at the very least something much closer to Devo Max than is currently being contemplated in London).  We would need a lot of luck for the cards to fall in exactly the right way, but it's not inconceivable.  If it did happen, it would be ideal to have Hosie in Westminster speaking with the full authority of the deputy leadership position.  And don't completely rule out the possibility of Angus Robertson as Deputy Prime Minister of the UK in a Labour/SNP coalition with Stewart Hosie as Scottish Secretary (or vice versa).  I know most people in the SNP would at the moment dismiss that idea as utterly fanciful, but if it came to the crunch and there was an opportunity to deliver Devo Max, who would you trust to deliver it more than an SNP government minister?

To return to the proposal for a Yes Alliance, you might be wondering if there are any risks attached to it.  There are indeed, and probably the best recent example of how an electoral pact (albeit an extremely informal one) can spectacularly backfire came in 2003.  The SSP, back in the pre-split days when it was still led by Tommy Sheridan, decided not to stand candidates against Labour incumbents who were viewed as genuine socialists.  But it had the opposite effect to the one intended, because the swing from Labour to SNP was actually bigger where the SSP didn't stand.  It turned out that natural SSP voters were people who would otherwise gravitate towards the SNP, and not towards Labour.  Most notably, this led to John McAllion losing his Dundee East seat to Shona Robison.

So there are things that can go wrong, but in my view it's definitely worth the risk.  It's misguided to look at the SNP's current strength in the opinion polls and think that all we need to do is more of the same.  If the rigged TV leaders' debates are allowed to go ahead as currently proposed, the lead could disappear in a puff of smoke overnight.  We really need to think out of the box if we're going to do what we've never done before (with one partial exception in 1974) - make a telling breakthrough on "away soil".

For all those reasons, it's Stewart Hosie for me.  But I was sufficiently impressed by Angela Constance's pitch to give her my second preference vote.


  1. A YES alliance is a good idea, as long as it is not called the "YES Alliance"! This would alienate the NO voters that we are trying to get onboard. "Real Powers Alliance" or "Scotland First Alliance" etc etc etc, but please, not "YES Alliance".

  2. Anon : I previously would have agreed with that sentiment, but my worry now is that whatever the name is, it must have "instant brand recognition". The nightmare scenario would be if voters look for the SNP candidate on the ballot paper and then give up in frustration when all they see is "Radical Alliance" or whatever.

  3. I think just calling it the Devo Max alliance would be sufficient: it would also be a god way of not putting off any Devo Max wanting No voters. It also gives a very clear indication of it's purpose.

    I think arguing for Devo Max in the short, and even medium term will be by far the best avenue to electoral success.

    Another idea could be to extend it to a 'federal' alliance with the English/Welsh + NI Greens. This could be a very interesting way of ensuring sufficient media coverage in the run up to the GE.

  4. My inclinations are much the same - I've never failed to be impressed by Hosie in debates and interviews, and the strategic element of a deputy leader in London has its advantages. So too does the prospect of having separate a deputy FM and leader - this should force the media further from the "one man band" stuff we got with Alex Salmond.

    However, I'm holding fire on voting for a wee bit yet, there's plenty of time for candidates to expend on their visions.

  5. If the SNP campaign as the Yes Alliance in Perth and Kinross Pete Wishart is going to lose his seat, or come close to it. Mike Weir had best be careful also.

    The SNP is the most effective brand for gaining seats. God forbid we use anything else.

    If we can convince Green and SSP voters to vote with us and try to find them a seat or two to contest alone with our support (after all, the Greens are only really asking for one seat) then that would be a good compromise.

    I've seen some people talk about giving them a "safe seat", but SNP safe seats don't vote Green. You'd need to find the seat with the best prospects for someone like Patrick Harvie in Glasgow or better yet Maggie Chapman in Edinburgh, then the SNP branch in that area should campaign alongside the Greens to get him in. It'll be tough, but it's worth it.

    Incidentally I also support Hosie over Brown - but my reasons are more because I recognise the intelligence and clarity of vision that Hosie possesses. Brown is the epitome of a "safe pair of hands" - he's a good man, a good minister but he's not very bright.

  6. I voted for Angela Constance. My thoughts were that I would've voted for Hosie, but then I think Salmond is going to head back to Westminster anyway.
    As for this YES alliance; nice idea, but doomed to failure methinks. The SNP are already romping the polls right now!

  7. Same anon here - I meant to say "get her in".

    The Greens have a co-convener system so it makes perfect sense to have Patrick Harvie as the Scottish co-convener and Maggie Chapman as the Westminster co-convener. She's a councilor at the moment and she could do with a higher profile - she's excellent. I just wish there was a way of getting her a seat.

    Do we know what seats have the highest potential Green vote in the country? I suppose the Green demographic has shifted now from middle class Unionist suburbians to a more pro-Yes group of people on both ends of the Scottish middle class; a demographic that may prove fruitful?

  8. As a member of the greens I would be happy if we were to accept a 'devo max' style alliance with a clear run at 1, perhaps 2 seats.

    There is good scope for the greens in affluent Edinburgh with Maggie, the SNP haven't a great shot at it, Edinburgh voted overwhelmingly No. And a clear run and the extra foot soldiers, alongside a focused effort from the green members might give the greens half a chance at taking it.

    The greens have always been a bit middle class to be honest; but this suits in some Edinburgh seats, and given the extra exposure during the referendum they might be able to draw quite a few of the 'Yes' voters types to them as well.

    Only worry would be getting no coverage in media; as SNP gets asked all questions about the group. Need to be able to get Patrick on TV as much as possible, for the sake of the greens, and the overall goruping.

  9. Poster1 : I think the complete opposite would happen. The SNP recognise what a huge asset Patrick Harvie was to the Yes campaign, and they'd be keen for him to be treated by the media as the joint leader of any alliance.

  10. Well I voted for Stewart Hosie also with Keith second and Angela Constance third, I have no problem with any of them, I would like to see Stewart as Deputy leader and either Keith or Angela as Deputy First Minister at Holyrood. I realise that is not how it will work but as Stewart is in Westminster it will need someone to hold the fort for Nicola.

  11. As for names, I'd be happy with Scotland's Voice, DevoMax Alliance or, for a general UK wide, the Reform/Democracy Alliance.

  12. "Scotland's Voice"

    Archie Stirling was way ahead of his time.

  13. The Green's main target is Edinburgh East, where their candidate is Peter McColl.

  14. As others have said any alliance could not be called the Yes Alliance. It would need to be called the Devo max Alliance, as that shows that the referendum vote has been respected. We were also promised Devo max by Darling and others, even Jackie Bird, if we voted No...

  15. If we get Jackie Bird's eyebrows on board, the battle is surely won.

  16. The single worst thing that could happen to us as a movement would be that SNP, Green etc would be replaced on the ballot paper with "Yes Alliance" or "Devo-Max Alliance". We will lose seats that we could have won if we were campaigning as SNP.

  17. I voted for Hosie too. I was geniunely undecided as well. Must be what a floating voter feels like! Not really knowing who to vote for then further reading before opting for a candidate.

    I would like to see some form of Yes/Devo Max Alliance as well. Thinking clearer, I think the SNP allowing the SSP and Greens a clear run at 1-2 seats could be the best possible option?

    Can you still write a slogan underneath the ballot paper like the SNP did for Holyrood in 2007? If so, "MORE POWERS FOR SCOTLAND" or something could fit under the Greens, SSP, and SNP?

    Interesting times.

    Any predictions on who will win? I suppose we don't know considering the huge increase in members of the SNP.

    Seems most MSPs are going for Brown, whilst MPs are backing Hosie.

    I'd be happy with all 3. I quite like Brown's online forum and regional policy changes, but should be interesting to see how this works out and how the new members will vote.

  18. My better half and I both voted for Hosie. I have a feeling the result will shock a few.

  19. I voted for Hosie since he is my MP. But more importantly the fight for more powers moves to Westminster so it would be good to have the Deputy Leader there.

    I think SNP (Devo-Max For Scotland) Green (Devo-Max For Scotland) SSP etc

    I think that is allowed. It is important we focus on Devo-Max and make the GE about getting the best possible Devo deal - and we can only trust the Yes parties. I would hope that many No voters would vote for a Yes party. If they are presented as the only parties that will stand up for Scotland and get us a good deal

    Labour is likely to try to minimise powers to Scotland and even to screw us over so they can screw the SNP

  20. When the leadership elections were announced I though of Stewart Howie for deputy leader for all the reasons given by all. However, I didn't think that accepting the referendum result was a good idea, until now. It compares very favourably to the tactic of parking independence and fighting the Holyrood elections on a good governance agenda, which worked so successfully and has led to an incredible 45% voting Yes. I think that an overwhelming majority would vote for SNP- DevMax, etc.

  21. I'm starting to settle towards Hosie for Deputy leader for similar reasons to those given by others.

    One leader in each house is a good argument certainly.

    Also, the position of DFM in Holyrood is still there for the taking too. Brown and Constance both good candidates...

    A Yes alliance is fine, but only terms of strategy. SNP on the ballot please.

    Going by polls it doesn't seem a Yes alliance is needed. Electorate seems to know exactly what to do if it wants to push for devo max (or indy if that's not forthcoming). Is that really a surprise? We have a very clued up electorate out there and one which has been leaving UK parties behind steadily for a long time. The referendum anti-Scotland Tory-Labour coalition has likely fatally wounded what remains of Labour in Scotland.

    UKIP are also doing wonders for the SNP. In addition to the whole racist (inc anti-jock) + turbo thatcherism stuff, they've been demonstrating wonderfully how 'a vote for UKIP is a vote for UKIP under FPTP', ergo a 'vote for the SNP is a vote for the SNP'. That and there's the 'well if the English are voting UKIP / English independence / anti-UK establishment party, then in Scotland we're doing the same; SNP' factor.

    2015 could turn out lovely. Hell of a mess UK-wide for sure, but then that's what No voters asked for. They voted for a constitutional crisis, not the stability and normality of independence.

  22. I voted for Stewart Hosie too! Great minds thunkalunk . . .

  23. Can only echo what others have said. Replacing the SNP with another name on the ballot paper is a recipe for disaster!

  24. I'm leaning towards Stuart Hosie too since he comes over very well in debates.

    I think the idea of standing "Yes Alliance" candidates is bizarre however. The polling average for Westminster since the referendum is about 40% SNP, about 3% Green and almost zero for the SSP. There are no seats where a Green or SSP candidate has a better chance of winning than the SNP. There would be very little for the SNP to gain and a great deal to lose.

    From the Green perspective why would they agree to stand down almost all their candidates? One reason they have so little support for Westminster is because they are not seen as credible challengers in any Scottish seat. They can only change this by building up their vote at each election like they did in Brighton and that means standing Green candidates.

    We should also remember that in four of the six SNP seats there are clearly many SNP voters who voted No. Standing as "Yes Alliance" rather than "SNP" risks alienating these people and losing our existing seats.

  25. "From the Green perspective why would they agree to stand down almost all their candidates?"

    Because they would stand an excellent chance of getting at least one Green MP elected with the backing in that seat of the SNP, Women for Independence, the SSP, etc, etc. Once they have an MP, they can use it to build up a powerbase as the Greens have done in Brighton, regardless of whether the alliance continues or not.

    But without an alliance, there's no way on Earth there'll be a Scottish Green MP after May.

  26. And there's no way this alliance idea will actually happen. Certainly not to the extent that parties will withdraw candidates.

    There will be plenty of SNP supporters who will have no intention of voting for the Greens or the Socialists, and when the SNP as a party are doing so well in the polls, taking that name of the ballot paper is simply crazy!

    They should be focussing their efforts in persuading the voters that a huge block of SNP MPs will benefit Scotland far more than Labour's careerist mob.

  27. "and when the SNP as a party are doing so well in the polls"

    It's extremely foolish to rely on the SNP's current position in the polls when we still have the threat of three rigged TV leaders' debates hanging over our heads.

  28. I must back James up here. The SNP got only a 1/5 of the vote at the last general election. Yet 45% of Scotland was for yes because the Green, LFI, the SSP, Solidarity and Radical Independence were for yes. The SNP have never taken a seat in Glasgow at a general election. We need an alliance with the others especially Labour for Independence to win. Remember the unionist vote will be split 4 ways. We must take advantage of this,

  29. You need a devo max group in seats the snp will not win. Snp members will vote for a devo max supporting candidate.

    Greens will, as will ssp. And most importantly, the lapsed not quite ready to ditch labour yet yes well as some of the swayed at the last minute ones. Campaigning on devo max is a winner.

    Campaign as a yes alljance and its not the same.

    Hosie gets my vote,always liked him and good to have the east coast consistently involved.

  30. The three candidates are having a hustings here in Renfrewshire on the 28th, I'll wait until then before I make my choice, but I'm leaving very heavily towards Stewart Hosie for the reasons you've mentioned James.

    Don't forget some of those SNP heartlands had the highest no votes, making it an independence alliance is a recipe for seat loss IMO. The SNP has to be about getting Devo Max now.

  31. I think formally having "Scotland Alliance" on the Ballot Paper or something is a bad idea, but some kind of cooperation to ensure Greens don't stand in any seats other than Edinburgh East (no pointless loss of SNP votes to Green) and the SNP stand aside in Edinburgh East to give McColl a decent run is essential to ensure we do the best we possibly can as a party and a movement next year.

    The Socialist movements can get free runs at a regional seat or maybe even a constituency seat in 2016.

  32. The concept that the SNP would stand aside to let the Greens have a go at Edinburgh East is almost as crazy as this notion that they will stand as an alliance.

    I'd bet my mortgage on it right now, that the SNP will be on the ballot papers next year. We need to convince the 45% to vote SNP at Westminster, not embark on some crazy rebranding exercise.

    If the SNP is looking at gaining around 20 seats, which is hardly inconceivable, Edinburgh East will be one of the ones being targeted - to suggest they'd stand aside in the hope that SNP voters would vote Green instead is bonkers!

  33. Boab, of course SNP voters would overwhelmingly vote Green if the Greens were in an electoral pact with the SNP, and if the SNP put their machine behind the Green candidate. It's more open to doubt whether Green voters would vote SNP in the absence of a Green candidate, but nevertheless my view is that a broad-based alliance would be greater than the sum of its parts, and would have a better chance of returning a large number of MPs than the SNP would have on their own.

    The thing about "the SNP will be on the ballot papers" is a bit of a straw man. It must be obvious from the discussion on this thread that there are any number of models for an alliance, most of which would involve the SNP's name being on the ballot paper. The SDP-Liberal Alliance in the 1980s used the format of putting the candidate's party on the ballot paper first, followed by the word Alliance - so either 'SDP-Alliance" or "Liberal-Alliance".

  34. I'd imagine that most seats would have an SNP candidate as normal with SNP as the party, but those targetting more difficult larger sitting Labour majorities would have "SNP - YES Alliance", "Green - YES Alliance" or "SSP - YES Alliance".

    Possibly Devo-Max instead of YES to appeal to the 55%, but only if Smith comes out with considerably less than Devo-Max, the SNP accept with reluctance but say they'll push for DM, with the Greens too, and both they and the SSP get to "own" Devo-Max in the public eye.

  35. Hosie seems the correct choice to me.

    On another matter James ...

    Do you know of any polls that ask what people would vote now in a referendum now knowing what has happened since (collapse of the 'Vow', Realising Brown has No power, EVEL, Pensions to be reduced, EU exit looming, the continual rise of UKIP, further Austerity measures announced, Fracking licences given out et etc) ... ?

  36. The key target of any Alliance for GE2015 isn't so much the Green or SSP vote, it is the large number of traditional Labour voters who voted Yes.

    While these voters may have reservations about Labour they, for many reasons (including simple tribalism unfortunately), struggle to see themselves as SNP voters at the moment.

    One of the most powerful, and accurate, arguments in the Yes campaign was that the campaign was much bigger than the SNP. This 'gave permission' to hundreds of thousands of those traditional Labour voters to vote Yes.

    Now there are 2 theories here. One is that those voters will make the move to voting SNP (like they did in 2011) and so nothing needs to be done.

    The other is that the pro-Indy / pro-Devo-Max campaign needs to be seen as broader than the SNP alone in order to attract those voters.

    Based on the evidence I have to say that I am more inclined to the 2nd theory. Remember the Euro-elections, SNP showing at 36% in the polls, delivered 29% and allowed UKIP to come through and win the seat. Or GE2010, SNP targeting 20 seats, won 6 with 20% of the vote. In Local elections 2012 SNP secured only 33% of the vote and fell short of expectations in many areas of the country.

    Also remember that even in 2011 the SNP vote of 45% was based only on a 50% turnout, and many of the FPTP seats won in labour heartlands were won on slim majorities. Very difficult to repeat in the context of a Westminster election (with constant Labour vs Tory narrative in the Press, not to mention exclusion from the debates).

    The Alliance doesn't need 45% in May like it got in September, 38% will be an utter game changer delivering around 36 seats (possibly quite a few more as the 'safest' Labour seats in that scenario are in the areas with the largest Yes votes). 32% on the other hand delivers only maybe 14 seats - useful but a long way from 'breakthrough' and more importantly probably less than the UK LDs and hence significantly reducing the likelihood of holding the UK Balance of Power.

    Interesting note from the Green Conference about them reviewing their GE strategy to make their priority to winning of a single seat in Scotland. Only way they can do is that is through an Alliance.

    Branding is important. needs to be Dual-branding - Party name with Alliance name. Think the word 'Yes' is double-edged - motivates many of the 45, but is it enough of them to get to 38% and open to accusations of not accepting the result ?

    I think the issue re-current SNP seats isn't as big an issue as made out to be. There are SNP voters who voted No, but also remember that most SNP MPs only get around 40% of the vote anyway in those seats which is enough to win under FPTP, so the Yes vote wasn't much different. The difference was there weren't as many Labour votes to shift to Yes in those areas.

    Possible names ? Devo-max ? Maximum powers ?

  37. I see your arguments, but still disagree.

    A disillusioned Labour supporter is going to look at a ballot paper and see...

    Liberal Democrats
    Devo-Max Alliance
    Monster Raving

    and vote for us?

    No, just can't see it. Especially when what Lord Smith proposes will no doubt appeal to many voters.

    This is all by the by, and irrelevant to my main point that it won't happen, rather than whether you think it should.

    I'd give it 1 chance in 100.

  38. I've known Hosie from my earliest days in the SNP and voted for him without hesitation. He and I were speakers against NATO membership way back, the first time it was debated (we won that day) and I also well remember him kicking off the republican debate by saying that the high heid yins were all relaxing in the bar thinking that conference business would never get as far as 'that motion about the monarchy', so he moved it as next business, won, and all glorious hell broke loose.

    I'm impressed by Angela Constance and gave her my second preference although I don't know her very well (yes, I am one of those 'kent his faither' people - I like to know who I'm voting for).

    If Nicola and Stewart haven't had their radical corners knocked off in the past couple of decades, then we can have two very definite lefties at the top of the party. Can't be bad.

    As I've said on another thread I'm not convinced of the value of a Yes alliance (same thoughts as Andrew Proctor above) - it all sounds a wee bit like magical thinking. But I'll try to keep an open mind. There might be possibilities if the seats where an alliance candidate stands are very carefully selected (your recommendations, James?) and the candidate is a very high-profile Green or socialist.

  39. @ Boab

    In 56 or 57 seats they would see 'SNP (Alliance)'

    In the other 2 or 3 seats they will see 'Green (Alliance)' or 'SSP (Alliance').

    In much the same way as in 2007 they saw something like 'SNP (Alex Salmond for FM)'

  40. Maximum Powers for Scotland in the UK

    Dunno if it would all fit in on the ballot paper...but that would work to entice these floating no voters...

  41. I voted for Mr Hosie too. With no disrespect to the other two, estimable runners, I simply think that Mr Hosie is a remarkably eloquent public speaker, with razor-sharp, fearless debating skills, which would even give Mr Alex salmond a run for his money.

  42. Stewart Hosie cornered the Panda vote.

    His dismembering of Lord Robertson of First Strike was a pleasure. Very cool and at ease with it.

  43. Andrew Procter

    You are forgetting Tommy Sheriden in against Ian Davidson in Govan.

    Sheriden could win that one, maybe easier than I think.

  44. @Ivan

    You say they would see this, but where on earth are the SNP going to back down in favour of the SSP?

    The one seat which has so far been discussed as a Green target is quite clearly a very attainable seat for the SNP too!

    Edinburgh East will have an SNP candidate, I am sure of it, I have it down as number 12 on the list of target seats.

    Again, I'll say, this alliance talk is just that, talk - it won't actually happen!
    imho of course

  45. With respect, Boab, I get the distinct impression you don't want it to happen and are trying to convince yourself that it won't. Given the hurdles that would have to be overcome it may well be a less than 50% chance, but when you have two of the three deputy leadership candidates supporting the idea, it's pushing it a bit to suggest that it's only a 1% chance.

  46. I think a key difference that boab and others aren't getting is the particular strategy that might be pursued in these seats where the SNP categorically will not win...i.e. seats like Greatrex's or Murphy's, Davidsons

    SNP/Green/SSP do not field candidates, the only candidate supporting devo max is from the devo-max group, would this new group have to be registered with the electoral commission? yes.

    Therein lies the difference for whatever snp/greens/ssp supporters think will happen, in order to not have each supporter from these pro devo-max parties not voting as they don't want to vote for the greens or whatever, you create a new party effective only for this election in order to capture voters from all parties who are in favour of devo-max. No splits etc, but the important thing to remember is you could only do this in certain areas, not widespread, as it is an experiment and all pro devo max parties have nothing to lose in certain constituencies.

    Hope that makes sense!

  47. The leadership election sounds very interesting.

    Feels like most MSPs are backing Brown, the Westminster MPs, Hosie - and imagine many of the 65,000 plus new members and what way they'll go?

  48. With respect, James, it isn't anything to do with 'want'. I thought about it a fair bit, and just can't see it. I have no hidden agenda as I am not involved in any seats.

    I just believe it is the wrong strategy, and not just that an unworkable one, as there are NO seats where either the SSP or Greens are even close to the SNP support.

    Maybe when Lord Ashcroft comes out with his 'seat by seat' polls there may be more light shone on any opportunities, but I doubt it.

    The YouGov polls continue to maintain a huge lead for the SNP over Labour. Maybe the disaffected Labour voters have already decided to vote SNP?!

  49. Tommy Sheriden in Govan against Ian Davidson

    He is nit SSP or RIC or LFI but he could take the seat and he lives there or thereabouts.

  50. I didn't say anything about a hidden agenda - it's just clear that you don't want it. Which is fine, but I don't think going on and on about how "crazy" and "bonkers" the idea is and how it definitely won't happen is going to sway people who see things differently. You said earlier that there is "no doubt" that the Smith Commission will produce a package that is attractive to many voters, thus detracting from the appeal of a Devo Max alliance - in which case I'm struggling to understand why you think the SNP acting alone WOULD have an appeal to exactly the same voters.

  51. @ Chalks

    I 'get it' entirely.

    Seats like Jim Murphy's and Ian Davidson's are very possibly unwinnable, even with the current opinion polling for the SNP.

    What you have suggested is an even odder arrangement where we have an alliance system, but only in certain seats.

    Can anyone else honestly see this happening?!

  52. "Can anyone else honestly see this happening?!"

    Yup. If you're talking about the idea of an alliance in general, then yup, I can see it happening.

  53. @James

    Well yes, it is clear I don't want it, as I view it as a vote loser, not a vote winner.

    I won't argue the point anymore, its hard to even argue against it simply on the basis of the fact that nobody has nailed down the key points of what this 'alliance' would consist of.

    Anyway, for now, the YouGov polls continue to show the SNP maintaining and even increasing their lead over Labour.

    So all is good, for now!

  54. Of course nobody has "nailed it down", because there are several perfectly reasonable options for how an alliance would work (which is just as well, because we can't expect all the other players to go along with exactly what would suit the SNP best).

    I've explained several times why it's foolish to put much faith in the SNP's current lead in the polls - as far as I can recall you haven't explained why you think I'm wrong about that.

  55. Jeez Boab, you are not voting for it yet.

    Think of it like the Referendum; some of the stuff has to negotiated and that will take some time.

    The SNP has to have its Conf and debate the idea to endorse it or not, as would any other party to the association, in whatever way their party rules allow.

    If that doesn't work, then you can say so and you'll be Cock o' the North, but to say that it needs to be fleshed out right here, right now, is fruitless.

    The baby isn't even consummated yet.

  56. Re possible alliances, there are technical issues to consider eg If there is an Alliance candidate in a Constituency and campaign is run on an Alliance ticket, then any canvassing would be on behalf of the Alliance. The SNP Activate data base could not be used.
    I would not be happy with that as Activate is a great campaign tool which would be missed.
    It might not be possible to make information already on Activate to the Alliance campaign.

    It my opinion it has to be SNP campaigns everywhere with possible informal agreements with other Independence minded Parties or groups

  57. Like everyone else I admire Harvie and Fox, but Greens and socialists are (as yet) an irrelevance in FPTP elections. Ivan McKee's case for an alliance (above) is the only sensible one: uncomfortable Labour voters are there to be wooed.

    So what would be the configuration of a constituency where you would stand an 'alliance' candidate? Suggested rule: it would be 'safe' Unionist, but with a strong SNP presence. If you'll pardon the choice of terms, we're looking for a Scottish version of the UKIP effect - a way for unhappy people to vote for none of the above.

    In such a seat it's not a big ask for the SNP not to stand. They wouldn't win so they have no skin in the game, but they have a chance to finesse the unionists.

  58. @James

    You say you have explained many times why it's foolish to have faith in the polls. Very good. I don't see anywhere where I've argued against this, so hard to prove you wrong!

    Keeping the SNP vote high is about convincing the ordinary voter not to give in, and vote Labour by default, in order to prevent a Tory government.

  59. First commenter, long time reader.

    And I might have remained just a commenter if my constituency, Edinburgh East, had not been being talked up as the sop to be given to the Greens.

    It is true that Edinburgh East recorded the highest Green vote in Scotland at the last GE (indeed it was the only place where the Scottish Greens retained their deposit) but this is something of an oddity. I'm going to take a wild guess and say that few of the posters who've mentioned Edinburgh East thus far actually know the place well (if at all). It is, I would hazard, Edinburgh's most working class constituency, encompassing such superstars of multiple deprivation indices as Niddrie-Craigmillar and Lochend and is, on the whole, not natural Green voting territory (well known Green candidate Robin 'Better Together' Harper scraped just over 5%).

    Last time round Sheila Gilmore took 43% to the SNP's 20% and the Lib Dems' 19%. Quite apart from the wider malaise affecting SLab, Sheila has not exactly endeared herself to her constituents with her support for fracking and her vocal justification of the benefit cap. Given the ineluctable demise of the Lib Dems and the strong local SNP prescence from Kenny MacAskill and our 2 excellent councillors Stef Tymkewycz and Alex Lunn, Edinburgh East, in my view, represents the SNP's best crack at taking our first ever Edinburgh seat at Westminster. It seems very weak logic to me to be offering it up to the Greens on the basis that here alone they scraped retaining their deposit.

    I look forward very much to campaigning for an SNP candidate here next year and helping to turf out 'Crappy' Gilmore (sorry, couldn't resist). More broadly, I suspect that very few in the higher echelons of the SNP are wedded to the idea of an alliance and are using it to put the idea in Green voters' minds (I think SSP voters are pretty much in the SNP bag already). I certainly know several Green voters who've already decided to vote SNP in 2015. I don't think that the Greens will sign up to it and I think that the SNP will benefit from pro-Indy Green votes anyway.

  60. I meant remain a reader! Well, I've started now...

    I would imagine my nimbyism on the issue will be far from unique and that lots of other SNP folk in other constituencies would be somewhat disappointed not to be campaigning for an SNP candidate and this will of course prove to be a sticking point. It is of course clever positioning from the leadership at this point in time however. If it did come to it though, I would suck it up and campaign for the Green guy.

  61. and vote Labour by default, in order to prevent a Tory government.

    Yes, that works. Was tried in 2010 and was a resounding success.

    The SNP have never been ahead in Westminster VI. They had a brief surge in 2009 and came 2-3 points behind in the summer of that year. The the Tories came over the horizon and out came the tactical vote for Lab + Lib. Worked wonderfully with voting Labour doing feck all to stop the Tories and voting Lib actually meaning you voted Tory. No wonder people lie when asked about 2010 on a grand scale.

    So, what happened next, voters transferred from Lab to SNP for Holyrood and for Westminster. Yes, it happened at both levels in 2011, it's just not been looked at much. The swing was not so large, but SNP have been equal or ahead for Westminster since 2011. It's not new.

    What we seem to be seeing is a firming up of this and with some people who've wavered on the matter fully backing the SNP. After all, the Tories and Labour were a single party in the referendum.

    The only place the surge looks newish is yougov and that's largely due to yougov being historically pro-Labour in bias. Ahead of the iref, this was partly corrected by some changes to party id data. Post iref SNP firm up is adding to this.

    Party id changes are important. Labour has always been out in front here even with the SNP getting lent votes from 'labour at heart' people. Briefly, in the SSAS, the SNP went ahead here in 2011, then dropped back.

    Evidence from Comres recently that this has occurred again and people are now seeing the SNP as their natural party; the moderate centre (to left) party of indy and of devo max.

    This surge is likely similar to the same one that happened in 2011 and never went away. Flirt, flirt, move solidly and don't go back. It is only natural that it occur for Westminster now after 2011.


    With no Green marginals I'm aware of / any seats where the greens out poll the SNP, I don't understand the point of 1 Green MP. Back patting or something? Hell, they might not even have a seat at the next UK GE if indy or devo max is the goal. I'd like to seem more Greens in Holyrood where they can contribute to the good governance of Scotland.

    Right now time is short and the SNP are the national centre movement for indy / devo max. They can wipe Labour out if people just vote like they did the last time there was a GE in Scotland (2011). That is much less of a challenge than trying to make some alliance to maybe get one MP elected somewhere on the off chance for no clear purpose other than to make them smile a lot (no offence to Green voters but this is the case).

    In fact if the polls are right, we don't need to persuade Scots to vote SNP, just make clear they've already made the right decision.

  62. I think some SNP voters are being overconfident. In general elections disillusioned voters tend to go back to their normal parties. Labour will get more TV coverage than the SNP too. I expect Labour to narrow the gap and Margaret Curran for one says she will try to win back the LFI voters. If the SNP make no effort to offer them something the danger is Labour might win them back and win another general election in Scotland. I am an SNP member but I would gladly vote for Jeane Freeman, Patrick Harvie, Allan Grogan, John McAllion and Cat Boyd if they were part of the YES Alliance. James and Ivan are talking sense. Listen to them please!

  63. @ SS

    You might be right, but you might not.

    I think you're analysis is great, but I don't need to tell you you called Indy Ref wrong, so what says you are right on this ?

    Looking at this I see little downside of an Alliance, but see plenty of upside.

    The only downside would be SNP not contesting 2 or 3 seats where they are unlikely to win anyway. So the worst that can happen is that SNP would not win in 2 or 3 seats where they would might have won if standing alone - and frankly the chances of them winning in those seats, and it making any difference in the big picture, would be miniscule in any event. (If there is an irresistible SNP surge then they will win countless seats anyway so 2 or 3 more makes little difference. If SNP fall flat then they wouldn't have won those seats anyway).

    The key message is by standing alongside the likes of Patrick etc the SNP is understood to be putting Country above Party. That is what is important and will resonate with the hundreds of thousands of Labour voters who are looking for a reason to not vote Labour but have a tribal antipathy to voting SNP.

    This isn't about the Green or the SSP vote, its about the Labour Yes vote. What will make them more likely to vote like they did in Sept 2014 compared to how they voted in June 2014 or May 2013 ?

    Come 2016 its back to politics as usual. The SNP has nothing to lose by forming an Alliance for 2015, but plenty to gain. By not doing so they may live to regret the missed opportunity of not holding the Balance of Power in Westminster in 2015.

  64. I am going to back you up again Ivan.Prediction of low/average/high.
    Conservatives 239 281 325 -25
    Labour 254 298 338 40
    Liberal Democrats 14 25 38 -32
    SNP 13 21 30 15
    Plaid Cymru 1 2 4 -1
    Greens 0 1 1 0
    UKIP 1 3 6 3
    Other 1 1 2 0
    If you are right that the yes alliance can take 36 seats and the lib/dem collapses as the above website indicates then the Yes Alliance could well hold the balance of power in a hung parliament! Can someone from the SNP contact Labour for Indy please? Can you imagine the SNP and LFI together wiping out Labour in Glasgow? I would love to aee prominent members of Yes Scotland become MPs as part of the Yes Alliance. I thibk this could well happen if we do a deal.

  65. It's finding the right candidates though, that will be the problem in seats that the SNP cannot win.

    For instance, if only Dennis Canavan and Sillars were 10 years younger.

    Personally, those are the only two that I can think of, that would win in glasgow, they are personalities and well known in that area.

    Tommy Sheridan, I like him, but I think you'd find the press would absolutely hammer him, so you are starting from a very hard position with that one.

    Kat Boyd, she is decent with strong socialist views, but I don't think she has the necessary base backing required, stick her in margaret curran's seat though and thinks would get very interesting as it would be quite the contrast.

    I'm struggling to think of others that would be up for it, Lesley Riddoch? doubt it, but she has charisma and has a good grasp of politics.

    Just to refute an earlier point that disillusioned voters go back to their old parties.....didn't happen in 2011, nor did it happen with the 30%-40% of labour voters that voted yes in the referendum. Why else are the SNP in power if no voters are able to change their opinion!

  66. @Ivan

    I don't believe I ever called the indyref firmly / put forward a formal prediction? I got a few things right (that the polls would close (2012/13) and that non-anonymous MORI/TNS + Yougov were underestimating Yes meaning we'd likely see a surge at the end which we did) and my more optimistic potential / possible maybe if X theory has any weight Yes levels did not pan out. However, I believed I always made fairly clear I was not guaranteeing anything.

    What I said about previous SNP VI in polls is correct; the have never been ahead for Westminster until after May 2011. I have seen no evidence for people saying SNP then returning to Labour as 'their party' in GEs.

    I do see a desperate tactical vote in 2010, the tactical element of which is evident in consistent 2010 false recall yielding far too many people claiming they voted SNP not Lab and Lib.

    If we were in late 2009, we'd have SNP in minority at Holyrood but increasingly popular although with people wavering about 10/11 VI. Labour increasingly unpopular but Tories threatening a return. We'd have North Brit Jock El Gordon as PM. We'd also be watching a modest rise in SNP to just over 30% in summer 2009 steadily slipping away as people decided to try and block the Tories with a Lib or Lab vote in 2010 and possibly 11 too.

    A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and polling-wise, we are in a very different position. Labour were not that hot in 2010, but they were like gods in sat/trust ratings compared to now. 10% higher in VI too.

    I'm not being over confident nor complacent, but people who voted SNP in 2011 are saying they plan to do the same in 2015, including lots of 2010 labour voters. Why then tell them they shouldn't do that and instead do something else which is unclear?

    If someone can explain to me what the purpose of putting a lot of effort into getting one Green MP elected, then I'm all ears. We all complain our MPs are worthless in Westminster yet people are proposing to put lots of effort into getting one from a small party elected? The future of the Greens is bright, but for Holyrood.

    I'm all for an alliance BTW; one that delivers the most pro-indy / pro-devo max MPs. If the Greens are ahead of the SNP in a seat with a better chance if winning it then we should back them for it. I'm of the understanding that no such case exists. If a deal / alliance was struck to get a Green MP and it worked, then the Greens would have nothing to be pleased about; you can hardly celebrate that as a win for the Greens since people only voted for them because they were told to, not out of merit. No pats on the back at Green HQ then nor big smiles for achievement.

    I have no problem putting e.g. 'Devo Max Alliance' or something as a blurb so long as it's in small writing and it's as clear you are voting SNP as it is if you choose Tory, Lab etc.

    The momentum is there if polls are correct and that's being as conservative about them as James is. Best work with what we have in the short time we have.

  67. @ SS

    In terms of 'putting a lot of effort in to getting a Green elected' shouldn't need to do anything. Just show them a clear road and let them get on with it as best they can.

    By the way, huge respect for your analysis, and hope I didn't come across as getting at you, and I do hope you are right.

    Whatever happens, interesting times ahead.

  68. I'm with Boab here - I don't see how sprinkling some unpopular fringe party fairy dust on the SNP and calling it an alliance will actually help win seats. It may risk losing them. As for the focus moving off the SNP during the campaign - well, that's unavoidable whether there's an alliance or not I'm afraid.

    However, supporters of an alliance have been keeping the details vague, so if I spend too much effort critiquing the idea I'll be told "an alliance doesn't need to look like that", so I'll leave it at that.

  69. Well, we must always, at all costs, make room for the counsel of despair, Commentor.

  70. I've simply seen no description of a 'alliance' that actually looks helpful. It's not that proponents are naively hopeful - their plans just don't add up. Cheers for the ad hominem attack though :)

  71. I can't claim credit for anything so grand as an ad hominem attack. I was gently mocking your tendency towards negativity and fatalism (and more particularly your refusal to offer constructive suggestions when dismissing others' ideas), not launching an attack.