Saturday, September 7, 2019

The SNP may be right to ca' canny on bringing about a general election, if only for a very short while

So are the SNP doing the right thing by not facilitating a general election on the earliest possible date?  I think some of the criticisms of the decision are a bit silly.  First of all, it's as close to being certain as it can possibly be that there's going to be an election anyway before the end of this calendar year, so the decision is really over the when rather than the whether.  And OK, just because Boris Johnson thinks a mid-October election is in his interests, and just because the opposition parties think a slightly later election would be in their own interests, it doesn't necessarily follow that both sides have calculated correctly.  Like the French Revolution, it's too early to tell, but unlike the French Revolution, we won't have to wait long to find out.  But it can't be denied that the opposition's logic seems plausible enough - if Johnson fails to take Britain out of the EU on Halloween as he has promised to, "do or die", then it'll be hard for the Brexit Party to resist putting up a full slate of candidates, and it seems likely that the Tories will be heavily hit as a result.  A split pro-Brexit vote would benefit the SNP in Tory-held seats in north-east Scotland as much as it would benefit Labour and the Lib Dems south of the border.

Then there's the argument that it's not the SNP's business to block the democratic will of the people of England and Wales to leave the European Union.  I think that has some merit, but it's also a bird that has well and truly flown.  The time to choose that approach was in 2016 or 2017, and for better or worse the SNP are now fully committed to the twin-track strategy of trying to stop Brexit for the whole of the UK while simultaneously pushing for an independence referendum.  It's pretty much impossible to turn back, and in any case the leadership are entitled to point out that the selected strategy appears to have borne fruit in opinion polls.  It should also be remembered that a 'facilitate Brexit but only for England and Wales' stance would only have been much use if there had been a Westminster government open to making concessions in return for SNP cooperation, and that was never the case.

I suppose the pessimistic side of me does worry about passing up a chance to seize the moment when the stars seem so perfectly aligned for an SNP landslide victory right now, but the reality is that a month-long campaign would have been plenty of time for everything to fall apart if that's what is destined to happen.  We know from a number of recent elections that public opinion can remain stable until the official campaign begins, but from that point onwards all bets are off.

Perhaps the biggest gamble that the SNP and other opposition parties are taking is in assuming that a later election will take place with Britain still being a member of the European Union.  If Johnson, even as a lame duck PM, comes up with some sleight of hand to engineer a No Deal exit against parliament's wishes, or indeed if EU leaders like Macron hand him that outcome on a plate, the result of a post-No Deal general election will be impossible to predict.  The only way of avoiding that leap in the dark is to replace the Johnson government with an emergency administration - but the obstacle to that is Jo Swinson and the Lib Dems, not the SNP.

Last but not least, the SNP don't actually have the numbers to bring about a mid-October election without Labour assistance, so from both a practical and presentational point of view, there was very little point in them being seen to try and fail to give Johnson the date he wants.

*  *  *

I was profoundly shocked to hear BBC News mislead their viewers last night by claiming that new Lib Dem recruit Luciana Berger had previously been sitting with the Independent Group for Change.  In fact, although Ms Berger was a member of the Independent Group, which subsequently changed its name to Change UK, she left before it changed its name again to the Independent Group for Change.  She was thereafter a member of The Independents, not of the Independent Group for Change.

Change UK: making Judean liberation splinter groups look united since February 2019.


  1. I heard William Hill spokesperson yesterday say they have a 2020 election at odds on. They also reckon No Deal is 7/2 against - fairly big odds for a binary outcome. No one is talking of BJ getting what he purports to be a deal and then calling an election after that, no doubt on the theme 'look at what a good boy am I'

    Unlikely? Maybe, bit bookies' odds tend to follow the money.

  2. The Rebel Alliance is right to make Boris the Spider absolutely be forced to go to the EU for that extension before letting him wiggle and weave some web that uses the election to create a no-deal exit. The Spider still keeps promising that he won't get the extension, so its definitely not the time to start trusting spiders.

    And with Boris' Stalin-style party purges, it seems like the Rebel Alliance will be firm about a vote of no confidence after that time.

  3. A great and accurate exposition of where we stand James.
    Politicians in London so pre-occupied with their own survival that they don't see that the precious Union has probably gone beyond the point of no return.
    When the Indyref is called who will chap the doors for NO.
    Many brexiteers in England will see that an independent Scotland would open the door to the Brexit they crave.
    Then watch for a swift return to sanity in London.
    Meanwhile, see you all in Perth.

  4. I imagine our 31 neighbours have suggested to the SNP that they would be more receptive to an indy Scotland that had not actively encouraged a crash out (of the EU/EEA) brexit, but rather one which has done its best to aid in avoiding that particular outcome.

    Ultimately, while a disorganised brexit would make the Yes vote soar, it also makes indy much more messy while hurting everybody's economy.

    Right now, Europe really, really doesn't like the UK and loves Scotland. But it will be asking a favour I'd imagine, i.e. 'If you help us prevent a calamity, then in turn you can expect us to be helpful if you subsequently come chapping at our door'.

    So, much as I really wish we could just let England cliff jump and so we can get on our way, we don't live in isolation so need to play this very carefully.

    The outcome most likely to deliver indy smoothly is one where we have a transitional deal, the backstop is in place meaning N. Ireland stays 'in' so the UK is breaking up, while there is a weak government in London too busy with England to put up much of an anti-jock fight.

    That way the economy isn't completely trashed and the moment the transition period begins, the EU/EFTA can openly offer membership to Scotland.

    It is a continuously evolving situation so the SNP's position will also need to evolve in response. That may mean what they state seems somewhat contradictory what was said previously on the specifics such as exact timings of elections, bills etc. The main goal remains the same though. If your opponent keeps making sudden direction changes, so you have to.

    They may suffer greatly however if they are not seen to deliver an iref in the face of brexit, even if that is a non-section 30'd advisory one, before 2021.

  5. It's impossible to predict anything now. We are already far offshore in unchartered waters. I think what we can say is that, when the Brexit finally dust settles, UK and Scottish politics will be a very different beast to what we have known (most of our lives in the case of the UK). Too much blood has been spilled, too much offence, too much worms out of the can, for things to ever go back to what they were before.

    The UK is experiencing a huge, three-way clash of identities: emergent English nationalism (Brexit), British nationalism (one-nation, unionists) and Celtic nationalism (we can be lumped togther, snce we don't oppose one another). IMO the British nationalists will be eventually crushed by the squeeze. That won't stop those one-nationers yearning for and half-expecting things to go back - business as usual. They drem in vain I'm afraid. The genie is out and he ain't going back.

    1. I've said a few times that Scottish unionism faces a huge problem with brexit.

      In Scotland and N. Ireland, 'one nation' British unionists voted Leave, but in England, these voted Remain while the English nationalists voted Leave.

      At some point, the English nationalist leavers will betray the British nationalist leavers in the celtic nations as the former think only of what England wants. The very obvious source of this is the backstop.

      English Boris and co love the backstop; as long as it only applies to N. Ireland. What they hate is the one nation unionist clause which made it apply to England / the whole UK. A clever tactic by May, and of course the DUP.

      If Boris can get rid of the DUP, he will happily sign off a N. Ireland only backstop, marking the beginning of the end for the UK.

      We are seeing the Tories moving from being a one nation unionist party to an English nationalist party. Just as the SNP have come to dominate in Scotland as the last rays of sun set on the empire, so the ENP is now taking centre stage in England. Both are closely intertwined with Britain's imperial demise.

      English nationalism is killing one nation unionism just as I've said it would. I have to say I felt a little smug when Ruth resigned.

      The SNP should have used Boris earlier. A great indy tactic! :-)

  6. Brexit can be completed quickly, or it may drag on for years. Whatever happens, the UK will hardly come together again. A Disunited Kingdom which, sooner or later, people will decide needs to be put out of its misery. Things not looking good for the once dominant, British nationalism.

    1. Short of revocation, Brexit cannot be completed quickly. It will be a long drawn out process, and signing a Withdrawal Agreement is just the start (and the easy part). Whether is a deal or not, there are years of negotiations still to come.

  7. No deal is the default. Boris can simply sit on his hands to run down the clock and there's absolutely nothing parliament can do about it. Meanwhile MPs are running around like headless chickens in futile attempts to avert it. All 4 nations of the UK are up the creek, and all thanks the voters in England and Wales. Indy for Scotland cannot come soon enough, to get us out of this basket case union.

  8. It's right for the SNP to try and stop UK no deal brexit. I wouldn't want Scottish independence if it meant other people in other countries suffering. If it takes longer for Scotland to become an independent country because the SNP helped stop brexit for the rest of the UK. So be it I've been waiting over 40 years anyway

    1. Is this an argument for Scotland joining the USA and fighting "Trumpism"?

    2. No. Because Scotland isn't part of the USA.
      I'm not overconcerned about Brexit's effects on E&W because they voted for it. What concerns me about a No Deal Brexit - and one of the reasons why the SNP approach is the right one - is the effect of it on Scotland.
      I'm as frustrated as anyone over the slow pace towards independence but the SNP are playing more than 1 long fame and that seems to be working well.
      1. Effective government from Edinburgh contrasting with London panto.
      2. Support for EU gaining support inside EU.
      3. Contrasting 2 types of nationalism.
      4. Trying to help people beyond Scotland's borders
      5. Letting Westminsters action work in favour of our independence.

    3. That's a great idea. Scotland to the rescue and we could maybe join Russia or China or anyone else that needs our help. After we have gained independence from the USA of course.

    4. I don't think Scotland is part of Russia or China, but I need to Google it to be sure.
      And as for helping people or getting help from others, what a novel idea.

    5. We've been told the lie that we wear to wee to 2 stupid nonsense for 40 years. The rUK was sold Lye that it was the EU and the others fault. If the SNP was to help make No Deal reality and Scotland became independent after I'm not sure I would look back on it with pride.

  9. The W O S opinion on the subject of brexit is selfish. As long as we get what we want who cares about anybody else. Not good

    1. Well, the SNP have a right to try and stop Scexit and no deal Brexit, but not Brexit itself.

      I don't think the 'Stop brexit' message is helpful. This is what 'the UK' voted for and must happen unless UK voters vote to reverse that decision. Like it or not, Scots voted No in 2014 and must abide by what the UK votes for unless we decide to depart.

      Scottish voters voted for the SNP on a mandate to keep Scotland in the EU. Also, there is no UK-wide mandate for no deal. So these things can be honorably fought for by the SNP. But that's it.

      Of course the SNP holding up 'Stop brexit signs' will probably hasten the demise of the UK in terms of turning English opinion against the union. However, I think it's the wrong message to Scots.

      'Encourage the people of the UK to revise their earlier decision!' is acceptable, but 'Stop what people voted for (UK-wide) in referendum' is a bad look IMO.

      Having said that, if a Section 30 is being really refused, then stop brexit is absolutely fine. But make it clear that is the reason you are sabotaging England's independence.

  10. It's right for the SNP to try and stop UK no deal brexit.
    I support Scottish independence but I'm not a nationalist. If Scotland is independent or not if we have the power to stop other people doing harm to themselves By stopping a No Deal brexit that's the right thing to do. Scottish independence has always been a long game and it will be achieved on the strength of its arguments.

    1. You might have been happy marching with the Army Of The Covenant. Or alternatively the Jacobites. So no worries about our troops finding themselves deep inside Bremainia. Or later "blowback" from our larger southern neighbour.

    2. Keep in mind that the Yes average is now 50.5% with the UK still firmly in the EU. It's not even as if we've not been through the whole last minute extension thing before.

      So even if the UK keeps getting extension after extension, Yes is already ahead.

      Brexit is a symptom of the UK's demise, not the cause of it. Although it might accelerate the final stages of break-up.

      As for Bozo; he is not really going for a crash out brexit; he wants a big GE win so he can dump N. Ireland. All the signs point to this. Unless the Tories are truly mental and happy to ruin the economy and their election chances for decades to come.

  11. I must say though that Boris is playing Lab/Lib like a fiddle.

    He's going to manage to avoid destroying his career, the Tories, and the English economy via a no deal brexit, whilst setting himself up for a stonking Tory GE win in England... Which he can then use to dump N. Ireland and deliver Brexit (Wengxit), so putting the Tories in power for at least a decade... Which they can then use to turn the UK into a Running Man type dystopian capitalist state, freed from such annoyances as EU worker protections.

    As long as close to half of England back brexit, and particularly under FPTP, it's never going away. Remainers need to snap out of it. The best they can hope for is to soften brexit. Cancelling it is a pipe dream. The Europeans even want England out now as it's just too much of a problem.

    1. I'm playing you like a fiddle and the tune you're coming out with is "Shaddupa you face".

  12. Survation poll showing what will happen once Boris does not deliver Brexit.
    CON: 29% (-2)
    LAB: 24% (-)
    LDEM: 18% (-3)
    BREX: 17% (+3)
    GRN: 3% (-)

    Brexit party making a small gain taking his majority from him. Note this only gives SNP 35 seats, so the 15 seats short of majority its predicting cold easily be 30.

    1. This UK poll seat prediction doesn't take into account the rise of the SNP vote. The SNP is at 4% at UK level which in 2017 was 3.1% at UK level.

    2. For the true picture you have to add the CON figure to the BREX figure. They are the same outfit.

  13. Survation. Scottish subsample:

    Q15. Some have accused Boris Johnson of acting like a 'dictator' because of his decision to suspend Parliament.
    Which of the following statements is closest to your view?

    56% Boris Johnson is acting like a 'dictator'
    31% Boris Johnson is not acting like a 'dictator'
    12% Don't know

    Well that's that settled then.

  14. you got a link to those tables, that question not on the tables i got sent.

    1. I got that out of the tables here:

      Which came from Survation's twitter feed.

    2. For heaven's sake. Get with the program and concentrate.

  15. I see the confusion that's from an old set of tables (not that the answer would of changed if asked again) I was looking at the ones sent to me today and wondering why could not see it!


    Lovely afternoon in the #Perth sunshine at the Independence march. Photo credits @PeteWishart and @LesleyRiddoch

  17. Replies
    1. Amber Fudd: a fanny shining in the moonlight.

  18. Tories really starting to build a solid lead now.

    Westminster voting intention:
    CON: 35% (-)
    LAB: 21% (-4)
    LDEM: 19% (+3)
    BREX: 12% (+1)

    via @YouGov, 05 - 06 Sep

    12 replies 37 retweets 52 likes
    Reply 12 Retweet 37 Like 52

    Britain Elects

    3h3 hours ago
    Westminster voting intention:

    CON: 35% (+3)
    LAB: 25% (-1)
    LDEM: 17% (+2)
    BREX: 13% (-3)

    via @OpiniumResearch, 04 - 06 Sep
    Chgs. w/ 23 Aug

    They'll be getting 40%'s within a couple of weeks I suspect.

    1. For an accurate picture of England's intentions, you add CON and BREX together. Add LIB too if you can be bothered.

  19. As for Scottish polling, I cannae mind this being reported from the Yougov(?):

    In principle, do you think there should or should not be a referendum on Scottish independence at some point in the next five years?
    45(+3)% Should
    44(-4)% Should not
    11(-10)% DK

    The pattern is very much now that Scots want iref2.

    1. Yes, I was going to post about that the other day but got sidetracked. From any othet pollster those wouldn't be surprising figures. But from YouGov they're sensational.

    2. If you get a chance, coukd you post about those figures. They look good, but I'd be grateful to know why. Thanks.

  20. So had a clutch of polls from pretty much all the major pollsters:

    Flavible Politics
    Recap 3

    YouGov / Opinium / Panelbase / Survation / ComRes / Deltapoll

    Con: 35% / 35% / 31% / 29% / 30% / 31%
    Lab: 21% / 25% / 28% / 24% / 27% / 28%
    LDem: 19% / 17% / 19% / 18% / 21% / 17%
    Brx: 12% / 13% / 15% / 17% / 14% / 13%

    Avg -
    Con: 32%
    Lab: 26%
    LDem: 19%
    Brx: 14%

    Also had a clutch at the end of August so can seethe change over the course of the week:

    Con: -1.2
    Lab: +3
    LD: +0.2
    Brex: +0.8

    Con lead over Lab end of Aug 12%
    Con Lead over Lab current polling: 8%

    So no signs of Conservatives lead extending and even more concerning for them is the fact that their lead has fallen without The Brexit Party vote share really increasing. Once the Conservatives fail to deliver Brexit by the 31st as they have promised the Brexit Party will take votes from the Conservatives.

    1. Does seem that the Tory rise might have stalled (to early to tell and they are still 9 points clear at least, with this not having fallen). Maybe the parliament shut-down effect? Johnson pushed his luck too far?

      Of course if he's not looking good for a GE, his incentive may be to seek all possible ways to force through a crash out brexit, even if that is 'against the law'.

      After all, Britain isn't capable of extending article 50 legally, so even if they locked Johnson up, we still crash out on the 31st unless the UK has a new government in place (which can command a majority) which had the authority to ask for an extension.... which the EU then agrees to (not guaranteed either, and likely to be with many pre-conditions).

      The more Johnson is cornered, the more irrational he's likely to become.


      The Britain Elects poll tracker accounts for all the polls, and the figures as of yesterday stand at:

      CON: 33%
      LAB: 24%
      LDEM: 18%
      BREX: 13%
      GRN: 4%
      SNP & PC 5%

  21. I had a snigger this morning to read that the Labour MP for Bassetlaw, John Mann, resigned his Westminster seat to take up a position offered by the Tories, no doubt for him voting all the time for Brexit. He thought it would create a lot of publicity with his anti-Corbyn jibes. Then along comes Amber Rudd who put him into the shadows, where he belongs.

  22. England is essentially descending into political civil war.

    Tories bid to depose Speaker Bercow after Commons revolt

    Scottish people need to understand that this gigantic mess has many, many years to run. Quite possibly a few decades. In fact the quickest way to sort it all out would be to end the UK by mutual agreement quickly. It's that or sit through the years of socio-economic collapse that, well, ends in the UK breaking up.

  23. A journalist writes:

    "YouGov polls this week showed a huge thumping majority for the SNP at any General Election this autumn, and a mirrored pro-indy majority at Holyrood, dispensing with the need for the Trans-obsessed Bathist Party’s narcissist intervention."

    Sir James, I don't suppose you could possibly comment on this?


  24. The remain situation is hopeless:

    Which of the following would be your preferred outcome of the Brexit process? (changes vs 29th-30th August)

    The UK remains in the EU – 37% (-3)
    The UK leaves the EU with a deal 32% (-1)
    The UK leaves the EU without a deal 22% (+3)
    Don’t know 9% (+2)

    So 54% leave vs 37% Remain.

    A few have changed their minds and if they had to vote again, Remain might just win it (53% R / 47% L), but people think the vote should be respected. England and Wales must leave the EU at least.

    Pretty hopeless if you want to remain.

  25. If the UK government is legally required to seek a brexit extension and does not do so, would it not be incumbent on the Scottish government to seek one for Scotland in lieu of this, to ensure the law of the land is upheld? Scotland could then enter a 'backstop' at least until such time as stable, law abiding, democratic government is re-introduced in London.

    In the meantime, a referendum could be held on re-joining a brexited UK or staying in the EU, to assess the will of the people.

    I cannot see how the UK PM simply overruling the will of parliament would not breach the treaty of union. The treaty is very clear how the UK should be governed, i.e. by parliament.

  26. And to further muddy the waters, a new Deltapoll comes along saying their is a drop in Tory support and a fall in Johnson's personal rating. The headline UK figure are:

    CON: 31% (-4)
    LAB: 28% (+4)
    LDEM: 17% (-1)
    BREX: 13% (-1)

    I suspect the SNP are at 4 or 5%. The info is from the English edition of the Sun newspaper behind a paywall.