Friday, July 23, 2021

Scot Goes Pop essay-writing competition

As a number of you have spotted, there's been a little flurry of below the line comments on another pro-indy blog attacking me and Scot Goes Pop.  The trigger for it was a lengthy comment from an individual who was formerly a prolific commenter here.  It contains a number of lies (I was going to call them "half-truths", but let's call a spade a spade - they're fully intended to mislead).  However, I'm not particularly worried about that - most people have long since clocked that he's a longwinded blagger who frequently contradicts himself.  What puzzles me more are some of the comments from others - for example, this one from "Tatu3"...

"Glad to see you here. I used to enjoy reading your comments on the other site, but gave up reading him just before the election when he sadly turned against the SNP and, I believe, independence."

It's debatable whether it can be reasonably said that I "turned against the SNP", given that I voted SNP on the constituency ballot in May and strongly urged my readers to do the same - even though that meant parting company with one or two other pro-Alba bloggers who advocated a more irresponsible course. But the idea that I've turned against independence is just bonkers beyond all belief.  The whole point of backing Alba was to press for greater urgency on independence, and indeed just for any movement towards independence at all.

Presumably what this is about is a conflation of the independence cause with the SNP - if you give anything less than wholehearted support to the latter, you must be attacking the former, even though there's considerable doubt over whether the SNP are actually serious about pursuing independence in the coming parliamentary term.  However, if someone can come up with a more rational justification for the claim that "Scot Goes Pop has turned against independence", I'm all ears.  I'm happy to receive submissions of 500 word essays on the subject - the best will be published (with a response from me, needless to say!).  Overly imaginative winter sport enthusiasts who think I'm an agent of the British state need not apply.

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I'm still fundraising via the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser for a comprehensive poll on GRA reform - if you'd like to help make the poll happen, please click HERE.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Spot the mystery location as I continue fundraising for a GRA / gender issues opinion poll

 For convenience (at least for the time being) I'm fundraising for the GRA poll via the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser for 2021 - everything donated over the coming period will go towards the poll.  To commission a poll in a similar way to most of the previous ones I've done would require around £5500 - that takes into account processing fees.  To give you a rough idea, the running total on the general fundraiser prior to me seeking funds for the poll was below £8000, so the earmarked £5500 will have been raised when the running total reaches a little over £13,000.  More realistically, I could shop around for a cheaper option and limit the number of questions, but even to do that the running total will probably have to hit a minimum of £11,000.  If you'd like to donate to help make the poll happen, please click HERE.

Monday, July 19, 2021

GRA poll fundraising update: around £1700 raised so far

I did a bit of totting up, and - as of two hours ago, anyway - we've raised around £1700 for the comprehensive poll on gender issues and GRA reform.  Thank you to everyone who has donated so far.  To feel really confident about going ahead, probably £5500 would be the ideal figure - that's based on prices I've been quoted in the past and takes into account fundraiser fees (GoFundMe no longer make a direct deduction, but their payment processer does still take a modest percentage).  However, if we fall anywhere between around £1000-£2000 short of that, I may still be able to make the poll happen if I shop around between firms and limit the number of questions.  Either way, though, we still have some distance to travel.  For the time being I'm still using the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser for 2021 to raise the money - that makes it harder for people to tell how much is required, so to give you a rough idea, an earmarked £5500 for the poll will have been reached when the running total on the fundraiser stands at a little over £13,000.  But, as stated above, I may be able to go ahead with less than that.

I'm bemused by the suggestions in some quarters that an exercise in testing public opinion is in itself "transphobic".  I'd suggest that reveals rather a lot about the ideology of the people who say these things, because it appears to be incompatible with free speech or tolerance of alternative views.  That, really, is my own concern in a nutshell.  I'm a bloke, I'm not steeped in gender critical feminism by any means, but nevertheless I do worry that we're hurtling into an Orwellian world where language and thought is policed by the state. (And if anyone thinks that's a hysterical exaggeration, two words for you: Marion Millar.)

As for the other objection - "what does this have to do with independence?", the obvious reply is that not everything we do has to be about independence, as the SNP government have been helpfully demonstrating in the four years since they "called an independence referendum" in 2017.  However, the reality is that GRA reform has become a considerable problem for the independence movement - it's led to a breakaway from the SNP once, it has the potential to do so again. If high-quality polling evidence can increase the pressure on the SNP leadership to dial down somewhat on the GRA issue, it would be a good step towards re-unifying the movement.

Although the fundraising drive still has a way to go, feel free to make suggestions for poll questions in the comments section below - we might as well be ready for when the funds are there.  And if you'd like to donate to make the poll happen, please click HERE.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Fundraising for a comprehensive Scottish poll on GRA reform and gender issues

A couple of days ago, a poll was published in Ireland on "attitudes to gender", covering issues such as women's right to single-sex spaces, the integrity of women's sport, the right to intimate examinations being carried out by someone of the same sex, and whether people should have the right to change the sex listed on their birth certificate.  I was asked today whether I'd be willing to crowdfund and commission a similar poll for Scotland.  I checked to see if I would have broad backing, and people like Denise Findlay said they would be happy if I went ahead, so I'll give it a whirl.

On the issue of the questions: I'd consult, but probably the simplest thing would be to use the Irish poll as a broad guide.  I don't think there's any such thing as 'completely neutral wording' for poll questions on such sensitive matters, but I'd be looking to make sure that respondents have clarity on what they're being asked, rather than using trendy buzzwords like "inclusion" and "simplification of the process" which can lead to misleading results.  However, I'd also try to avoid falling into the trap of laying the specifics on with a shovel to such an extent that the questions become obviously biased in the other direction.

A full-scale poll will cost a few thousand pounds - I can't put an exact figure on it because different firms have different prices, and it also depends on the number of questions (and sometimes also the question format).  For the last two weeks I've been using the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser to crowdfund this blog's next poll on independence and related matters, and that raised approximately £1000.  I'll make sure that money is used in the way intended - the GRA questions are something totally different.  It may well be that a separate fundraiser will be needed to make promotion easier, but I've got a very busy day ahead, so in the meantime if you'd like to donate, once again use the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser and anything raised over the next few days will be put towards the GRA poll.  So to donate click HERE, or for an alternative payment method click HERE.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

We need to get out of the United Kingdom because the Scottish Parliament is not safe within it

I'd heard a while back that the UK government were thinking of scrapping English Votes for English Laws (EVEL), but my reaction to the sudden news yesterday that they've actually gone ahead and done it (and without a vote, apparently) was "that's a bit casual, isn't it?"  It's the right decision in principle, but the fact that such a complete reversal was done so quickly and easily is a timely illustration of how a Tory government can simply reshape the constitution at a whim.  We need to get out of the United Kingdom because the Scottish Parliament is not safe within it.  Promises and conventions are utterly worthless, as has been demonstrated time and again over the last few years.

The main argument against EVEL was that legislation was being wrongly certified as "English-only" when in fact it had implications for the whole UK.  It may sometimes have been primarily English, but that's not the same thing.  It's quite difficult for a UK Parliament to pass laws that don't affect the whole UK to some extent, especially when there are things like Barnett consequentials to consider.

But we can safely assume democratic fairness is not the reason the UK Government have changed course - it'll be more to do with the dreadful optics of what happened on the morning after the independence referendum.  David Cameron and Gordon Brown had spent the entire campaign promising that a whole new thrilling world of enhanced devolution would open up for Scotland the moment we voted No, but instead the message was "right that's quite enough about Scotland, time to talk about England", just as soon as Scottish voters had been duped into rendering themselves powerless. People have long memories, and even if they don't remember that episode it's easy enough to remind them as soon as the next campaign gets underway.  Yesterday's tactical retreat will only repair a small amount of that damage.

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I was asked the other day if I was going to write about the recent controversy over the franchise for any future indyref.  My view is that we should stick to the principle that applied last time - ie. we should use the same franchise that applies to local government and Holyrood elections (albeit that franchise is now wider than in 2014, because it's recently been extended to cover non-EU and non-Commonwealth citizens, and also some prisoners).  That's the right thing to do as a matter of principle, because the people who have most at stake are the people who live here.  If there was such a thing as Scottish citizenship, there might be a case for also including Scottish citizens who live elsewhere, especially if they haven't been gone long.  But there is no Scottish citizenship, and it's laughable to suggest that we should create an ad hoc pseudo-citizenship for the purposes of a single vote just because the Tories think it would be helpful to bring in English-domiciled Scots who might be more likely to vote No.

On the other extreme, though, there are also pro-independence bloggers trying to come up with justifications for stripping Scottish residents of their right to vote because they originally come from England and would be probable No voters.  Apart from the anti-democratic nature of this proposal, I'd suggest it's extremely naive from a strategic point of view.  In the unlikely event that a referendum occurs via an agreed Section 30 process, we won't be able to rig the franchise.  If we go ahead with a unilateral vote (as we should), we can choose any franchise we like, but drawing a circle around likely Yes voters and excluding everyone else will simply lead to the result being safely disregarded, both by the London government and the international community.  Any vote that isn't scrupulously democratic will be a monumental waste of time.

It's also worth making the point that it would be very difficult to devise a rule for excluding English people in Scotland that wouldn't also exclude a lot of EU citizens - and the latter would probably vote overwhelmingly Yes in the hope of Scotland rejoining the EU.

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Donations made to the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser until the end of this week will be put towards our next opinion poll.  If you'd like to donate, please click HERE.

Monday, July 12, 2021

The BBC clearly wanted an all-English panel for an "English event" last night - but note how different logic conveniently applied to its coverage of Glasgow 2014

I had a quick look at the betting markets at half-time last night, and at that point England were the equivalent of an 80% chance to win the trophy.  So just for an hour or so we were in totally uncharted territory.  Both Scotland and the UK have changed radically since 1966, and the dynamic of an English win in a major championship would have been totally different from that sole previous occurrence.  I've never subscribed to the view that the insufferable triumphalism that followed would necessarily have driven people towards independence, but the theory would certainly have been well and truly put to the test.  We could already see the signs of both the London media and political class over-reaching themselves massively by insisting that the England team's run was somehow a success for the whole United Kingdom and that the whole United Kingdom must be at one in celebrating it.  (A notable example was breakfast TV presenter Susanna Reid, who was clearly determined to believe - in defiance of all evidence - that the idea that a large number of Scots were supporting Italy was a wicked myth.  Britain is required to be one big happy family, apparently, and that's an end to the matter.)  Essentially it was an attempted erasure of Scotland's existence, and I'm not sure the population at large is quite as willing to tolerate that now as they were 55 years ago.

None of this would be an issue, of course, if Scotland had its own broadcast media.  Stuart Cosgrove suggested yesterday that Scotland was the only one of the 24 countries in Euro 2020 that didn't have its own homegrown TV coverage of the competition.  Initially I thought he must be wrong about that, because Wales was also one of those 24 countries, but perhaps he was thinking of S4C's limited Welsh language coverage.  Either way, apart from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, there was no country in Europe last night that was forced to watch the game through an English prism, with presenters and commentators alike talking at viewers as if they actually are English themselves.  I was particularly struck by Jurgen Klinsmann's demotion from the main BBC panel of pundits, even though there would have been obvious value in having insight from someone who had actually lifted the trophy in 1996.  It seemed that the BBC's logic was that this was an English event - it was taking place in London with the England team involved, and therefore there had to be an all-English team in front of the cameras.

But here's the thing: by the same logic, the 2014 Commonwealth Games was a Scottish event. Glasgow was not hosting it as a British city - Scotland is an entirely separate nation in Commonwealth Games terms, with its own participating team. Not only did the BBC not allow a Scottish presentation team to front their coverage for all UK viewers, they didn't even allow that to happen for Scottish viewers. Gary Lineker was one of the presenters, and I remember him reacting derisively when people asked where the Scottish presenters were, as if that was a ludicrously narrow-minded question to ask.  It cuts both ways, Gary: where were the non-English voices last night?

Actually it was worse than that - the BBC's coverage of Glasgow 2014 was a politicised disgrace.  It was just a few weeks before the indyref and everything was very deliberately 'Britished' for viewers.  The distinction between the various Home Nation teams was presented as a bit silly and artificial, with all the events functioning as a kind of training exercise for the glorious Team GB assault on the 2016 Olympics.  There was even a preview of the Olympics, and not once was it even mentioned that the participation of Team GB was contingent upon the referendum result. A No vote and business as usual for Team GB was just assumed.

The London broadcasters are institutionally incapable of serving Scottish audiences adequately, let alone properly.  Tinkering around the edges will never make any difference - the only thing that will cut it is the full transfer of legislative powers over broadcasting to the Scottish Parliament.  If you agree, and if you haven't signed our petition yet, you can do so HERE.  Please also share it with your family, friends, and anyone else who you think might be interested in signing.

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Donations made to the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser until the end of this week will be put towards our next opinion poll.  If you'd like to donate, please click HERE.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

As we are all Italians today...

...here are five classic Italian Eurovision entries to get the old patriotic juices flowing.  First up is the first ever Italian winner of the contest in 1964, Non Ho L'Età by Gigliola Cinquetti.

   

Non Ho L'Età translates as "I'm not old enough", which is rather appropriate, because when Italy won for a second time twenty-six long years later, Cinquetti was still slightly younger than the victorious singer Toto Cotugno. The 1990 winning song was an anthem for European unity, with the main lyric "Unite, unite Europe" sung in English. Enjoy it while you can, because it will doubtless soon be banned by the Brexit censors.

   

Cotugno and Cinquetti went on to host the 1991 contest together in Rome. 

Next is what in my opinion is the greatest ever Italian entry, even though it only finished 4th in 1997: Fiumi di Parole by Jalisse. This was the last time Italy participated in the contest for fourteen years.

   

After Italy returned to the contest in 2011, they were widely praised for the high standard of their entries. A particular favourite of mine is the 2012 song, L'Amore È Femmina by Nina Zilli, which finished 9th.

   

 And last but not least, the third Italian winning song from this year: Zitti e Buoni by Måneskin.

 

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Donations made to the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser until the end of next week will be put towards our next opinion poll.  If you'd like to donate, please click HERE.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Sinister Euro 2020 selfies from Hampden Park

I've been meaning to post these for quite some time, and I'd probably better do it now, just in case events on Sunday evening mean we never want to think about Euro 2020 ever again (not that we'll be given a choice in the matter, of course).

One of the stories my dad used to dine out on was that he went to the World Cup final at Wembley in 1966 (I believe he wanted England to win, so "like father, like son" doesn't always hold true), and he couldn't sit down for the entire match because he'd just been inoculated against smallpox.  He showed me his programme once or twice when I was growing up - we've probably still got it somewhere, but God knows where.  

So when I heard that Scotland would be co-hosting a major tournament for the first time, I decided Euro 2020 was going to be my nearest equivalent.  It wasn't looking very promising for a long time, though - I had almost given up hope on the tickets I bought about twenty-seven years ago, but somehow I came through the automatic lottery that decided which of the original ticket-holders would still be able to go.  Naturally, then, I wanted to prove for posterity that I was actually there, so I took a truly excessive number of selfies.  I must say I didn't fully appreciate until I looked back on them how downright sinister I would look in poor lighting, wearing a mask, but who knows, this could be a whole new art-form.  (The first one is a screenshot from a video I just happened to be taking as the second Czech goal flew in.)

There's a serious point here, though.  At the very start of the pandemic, I had a ticket for the Scotland v France rugby match at Murrayfield.  I assumed the game would be cancelled, because the Irish authorities had already done the sensible thing and cancelled the Ireland v Italy match, but oh no.  That was when Jason Leitch and Catherine Calderwood were hellbent on herd immunity and actively wanted the population to be infected in an orderly manner.  Mass events like rugby matches and Stereophonics concerts were rather useful for them in that respect.  The SRU sent out emails with fatuous quotes from Calderwood about how there was going to be a "public health drive" at the game - simply meaning that people would be asked to wash their hands.  Eventually I decided I didn't want to be part of such a reckless experiment, so I stayed at home and accepted there would be no refund - and watched on the TV, to my astonishment, a game in front of a virtually full house.  Can you imagine how many people must have been infected that day, with no masks, no social distancing, and the virus raging uncontrolled?  That's perhaps why we should be a bit cynical about any pious comments made by political leaders about the likes of Margaret Ferrier.  The impact of what she did was trivial compared to the untold deaths caused by the unforgiveable irresponsibility of decisions made in February and March 2020 by our leaders, and by advisers like Leitch.

Apologies that these photos aren't all in the correct order, by the way.  See if you can work out which game is which: as David Frost used to say, "the clues are there..."



























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Donations made to the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser until the end of next week will be put towards our next opinion poll.  If you'd like to donate, please click HERE.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Scotland at a crossroads: will the SNP give up the fight against the virus, or the fight for independence, or both?

So I'd like to recommend a couple of articles to you this morning.  The first is written by someone beyond these shores, about how Britain has just become the first country in the world to surrender to Covid.  It's an absolutely excoriating piece, and reading it may permanently change how you see the situation.  All that's really missing is the ceremony on an aircraft carrier where Boris Johnson hands over the instrument of surrender to the virus.  This isn't even about a horrendous summer, autumn and winter to come - in other words, taking the hit and getting it over with.  The point made is that we're surrendering to an occupying army that will be with us for years or decades to come - Covid will now become endemic in Britain with new seasonal variants every year.  We will all catch the disease again and again and again, and in spite of the relentless propaganda from the BBC's in-house pro-virus correspondent Nick Triggle, that's a choice we're making.  There's nothing inevitable about it - other countries are choosing a radically different path.

And there's also a choice to be made here in Scotland.  SNP spokespeople at Westminster have criticised Boris Johnson's strategy, but as per usual we're not departing from it properly.  There'll be a slight delay in the lifting of restrictions, and mandatory mask-wearing will remain in place for the time being, but the bottom line is we're still ludicrously 'going back to normal' at the exact moment that cases are soaring.  We're engaging in a partial surrender rather than a total one, and that is a matter of national shame.  There is still, however, time to reverse course.

But what if we don't? That brings me on to the second recommended article - Lesley Riddoch's piece in The National stating with admirable clarity that an independence referendum must be held in 2022, otherwise we'll miss the boat for this whole parliament.  The irony is, of course, that if the SNP leadership urgently change direction and act responsibly on Covid, it would become somewhat easier for them to make the case for delaying an indyref beyond 2022.  But as I've said before, they can't have it both ways - if they stick with their current intention to join Johnson in giving up the fight against the virus and telling us "we must learn to live with it", there are no remaining excuses for giving up the fight for this country's independence.  So which is it to be, guys?

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Donations made to the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser until the end of next week will be put towards our next opinion poll.  If you'd like to donate, please click HERE.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Now is the time to partition Plague Island

I was rather alarmed last week that three people independently said to me that Jason Leitch and co appear to have reverted to their March 2020 position of trying to achieve herd immunity through mass infection.  I've long since stopped watching the briefings, so I wasn't entirely sure what this referred to, but unfortunately it's become clearer and clearer over the last 48 hours or so.  Boris Johnson has decided to end the fight against the virus on an arbitrary date that is only a fortnight away.  "If not now, when?" he asks fatuously - the obvious answer to that question being when vaccine coverage is as comprehensive as it can possibly be, which is far from being the case at this stage.  I presume what this is really about is that we're now in summer, and any scientific advice to wait until the autumn must be disregarded because the cretins on GB News and in the Daily Mail will be whingeing about missing out on their month in Santorini.

It also should be a statement of the blindingly obvious that even when it's safe enough to remove the bulk of restrictions, common sense, non-onerous rules like the mandatory wearing of masks on public transport and in shops should remain in place for as long as the virus is in wide circulation.  That actually enhances personal freedom because it allows people to travel and to do normal things in relative safety.  But no, apparently the danger of Neil Oliver's nose developing a slight itch is more important than public health, and Johnson has decreed that masks can go as well.

As per usual, what appears to be happening in Scotland is that we're just going along with whatever the London strategy is, with a slight delay and with a few modifications to give us the illusion of being more careful.  That would explain the change of mood music from Leitch, because sooner or later he'd need a narrative to justify removing restrictions while the virus is ripping through the population.

One thing I would say is that the SNP leadership can't have it both ways on this.  Their stated reason for indefinitely delaying the calling of an independence referendum is that we're in the middle of a public health emergency and their sole focus has to be on that.  But if we're about to fall into line with Johnson's "to hell with it" approach by getting everything back to normal from mid-August onwards, there's no longer any excuse for failing to use the mandate for an indyref as a matter of urgency.

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Any donations to the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser over the next couple of weeks, up to a total of £5000, will be put towards our next opinion poll.  If you'd like to donate, please click HERE.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Ski Monday

Three days ago, I made a call for donations to the Scot Goes Pop fundraiser in the hope of commissioning another opinion poll later in the year - anything donated in the next couple of weeks, up to a total of £5000, will be put towards the next poll.  The response has been great so far, with around £600 raised, so thank you for that.  However, I've paid the penalty in another way - I've been bombarded for 72 hours (and I use the word 'bombarded' advisedly) with unpleasant email messages from a certain individual.

Let me say something in all seriousness.  People who have donated to Scot Goes Pop fundraisers over the years have been vitally important in keeping the blog going (and more recently in making it possible to commission opinion polls, which are very expensive and are usually the preserve of mainstream media outlets).  But I simply cannot be expected to hand over editorial control to anyone who may have donated months or years ago.  I know the vast majority of people are grown-up enough to understand that, and would never dream of thinking they should be able to dictate what I can and can't say here.  But apparently this principle does need to be spelt out for the benefit of a small minority, or at least for one person.

There's no way that 'crowdfunded editorial control' could possibly work anyway.  There will always be moments when a parting of the ways occurs - for example, in March 2020, the independence movement was split between people who were critical of the Scottish Government for putting lives at risk by staying in lockstep with Boris Johnson's catastrophic herd immunity stategy, and people who wanted to remain loyal by saying that anything the Scottish Government had decided must be for the best.  That division will have been reflected among people who had previously donated to the blog - so the only way to avoid offending donors would have been to say nothing or to blandly sit on the fence.  But would that have made anyone happy? Of course it wouldn't.  People didn't donate to pointlessly preserve a blog that says absolutely nothing and that stays neutral on all of the big issues.  Quite the reverse.  What most people want is a strong pro-indy new media that is truly free and forthright.

It's the same story with the split between the SNP and Alba in March of this year.  Most pro-indy voters may have stuck with the SNP, but if the Twitter polls I ran were any guide, readers of the blog were much more evenly split - indeed, probably the slightly greater number switched to Alba.  No matter which way I'd jumped, then, I would have upset a substantial number of readers - but I did need to jump one way or the other.  Sitting on the fence just wouldn't have been credible.

Anyway, I know most people understand that perfectly well, and I thank you once again for your amazing support over the years.  The current fundraiser can be found HERE.

Friday, July 2, 2021

Funding for future Scot Goes Pop polling

Last Sunday, I was very, very close to trying to raise funds for a snap opinion poll, because there had been no independence polling for well over a month, which seemed crazy given that the SNP and Greens have only just won a resounding mandate to hold an independence referendum.  In theory there could have been a marked swing to Yes and we'd have been totally oblivious to it.  Literally a couple of hours after I had that thought, the Panelbase poll for the Sunday Times appeared right on cue, so there's no longer any great urgency.  However, it looks like the monthly ComRes polls for the Scotsman have been discontinued now the election is over, and with the SNP leadership and the mainstream media seemingly reaching an unspoken agreement to jointly take independence off the agenda for the foreseeable future, we may well find that polls are few and far between during the rest of the year.  I think it might be an idea to try to have some funding ready to go so I can fill at least one of the long gaps.  I'll keep an open mind about the exact timing - just the most suitable moment that crops up over the next few months.

Apart from the independence question, there are quite a few other subjects that I think should be asked about - for example, attitudes to the renewed mandate to hold a referendum and whether people think it covers all Plan B options, voting intentions for the local elections next year, the issue of the Royal family's interference in Scottish politics, and perhaps also the devolution of broadcasting to tie in with our petition.  And if any or all of these subjects are adequately covered by other polls before I run mine, there are plenty of other questions worth asking.

Because the Scot Goes Pop general fundraiser for 2021 hasn't reached its target yet (I stopped promoting it before the election so as not to distract from fundraising by pro-indy parties), I don't think it would be a good idea to have two fundraisers underway at the same time, so I've once again done what I did earlier in the year - I've increased the target figure of the general fundraiser by a few thousand pounds, and any money that is donated within the next couple of weeks, up to a total of £5000, will be set aside specifically for the next poll.

Part of the reason I've decided to get the ball rolling is that Scottish Skier has been trying to blackmail me with the notion that donations will dry up now that I'm no longer running the blog in a way that he approves of.  (He in all apparent seriousness believes that Scot Goes Pop is now an "anti-Yes blog" run by either Stuart Campbell or the British government.)  He might well be right for all I know, so let's find out!  Seriously, though, I'm sure you all know me well enough by now to realise that I try to handle these polls responsibly, and that I always ask questions that will be of interest to the whole pro-indy movement.

If you'd like to donate, please click HERE.  (Or an alternative payment method can be found HERE.)

Surprise Batley & Spen result boosts independence movement by keeping hopeless Starmer in harness

I've compared by-elections to the 1983 Darlington contest several times in the past, but the surprise Labour hold in Batley & Spen is perhaps the closest comparison of all.  Just as in 1983, it was expected that a Labour defeat might help to finish off a weak and unelectable Labour leader, but just as in 1983, a Labour win against the odds has instead shored up that weak and unelectable leader.  Ultimately that's bad for Labour and good for Labour's opponents, including the SNP and the whole independence movement.  Even those who have a favourable view of Anas Sarwar must accept that Sarwar is not the leader of the Labour party, Keir Starmer is. The public have made up their minds about Starmer, and yet Labour now seem to be stuck with him.

You also have to give George Galloway some credit - although he's failed in his main objective of bringing down Starmer,  his 8000 votes were vastly in excess of the derisory support I expected him to get.  Clearly he's still taken seriously in some quarters.  Perhaps the lesson is that he should stick to posing as a socialist, rather than the de facto Tory he's become in Scotland.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Here's the red line: an independence referendum must take place by the end of 2023 *at the latest*

Thank you for the kind words about the previous blogpost, which suggested that the SNP leadership have become an obstacle to independence.  It was bound to polarise opinion, but I would say around 80% of the reaction was positive and only around 15% was negative.  (The remaining 5% was a niche group who wanted to know when I was going to apologise to Stuart Campbell, but God alone knows what I'm supposed to be apologising to him for.  For not reacting with a cheery smile when he emailed to call me a "c**t", or when he got his solicitor to threaten me at the dead of night, presumably.)

One common theme of the negative comments was that instead of urging people to pile on the pressure for an independence referendum to actually be held, I should instead be encouraging them to "prepare for the referendum".  It's difficult to know whether to laugh or cry at that sort of comment.  Nobody could accuse me of not assuming good faith on the part of the SNP leadership for many, many, many years.  When Nicola Sturgeon "called an independence referendum" in 2017, I took that at face value and I encouraged people to donate to the "ring-fenced referendum campaign fund". That referendum, let me gently remind people, never took place.  After well over four years, I think we're entitled to say that definitively.  It was a fantasy, a mirage, a work of fiction.  The money in the ring-fenced fund was cynically spent on other things.  This time around, I have no intention of wasting my life "preparing" for a vote that is not being held, or of deceiving other people into doing so.  Having breached the faith of their members and voters once, the onus is now on the SNP leadership to prove that they are not pulling the same trick twice - and brazenly briefing the Sunday Times that there won't be a referendum this side of the 2024 general election is, to put it mildly, not the way to do that.

Incidentally, my trust in the SNP leadership did not even end in the summer of 2017 when they broke their word that a majority of Scottish seats in that year's general election would constitute a "triple lock" mandate for the referendum they had already "called" (they won 35 out of 59 seats - that's roughly 60%).  You can check the archives of this blog if you don't believe me - I spent the first couple of weeks after the election urging the SNP leadership not to backtrack (I remember being interviewed in the Financial Times about that), but as soon as Nicola Sturgeon made her statement about deferring, not cancelling, the referendum until the end of the Brexit process, I took her at her word and urged people to unite behind the strategy.  I continued to urge trust and patience when the timetable slipped well beyond Brexit day, and then when coronavirus struck I naturally accepted that a referendum couldn't be held in the middle of the biggest international crisis since the Second World War.  But Brexit is the casus belli for an independence referendum, and Brexit occurred eighteen months ago.  If the pandemic is the genuine and only reason for the further delay in holding the vote, it's logical to expect that there will be a referendum as soon as practically possible after the crisis eases.  Although it's not possible to pinpoint exactly when that moment will arrive, it's likely to be some time next year.  At the very latest, the year after.  When we instead hear that a referendum is unlikely to be held until after the 2024 election, any reasonable person has little choice but to conclude that this is a leadership that is completely taking the mick, and that the priority for the Yes movement has to be to do something about that.  As I pointed out in my previous post, a referendum 'delayed' beyond the UK general election is unlikely to take place at all, because any SNP seat losses at that election will once again be used as an excuse for shelving the whole idea, just as it was in 2017.

But even if there's a genuine intention to hold a referendum in 2025 or whenever, the reality is that will be five years after Brexit, which makes a mockery of the idea that we're holding the vote because it's intolerable for Scotland to have been dragged out of the European Union against its will.  It must be fairly tolerable if we're content to live that way for five long years.  Essentially we're chucking the material change of circumstances out of the window, in which case we might just as well go back to waiting for the fabled "generation" to pass.  I'm beginning to suspect that was the idea all along.  The people I feel sorriest for are the EU citizens who were persuaded to stay in Scotland on a bogus promise from the SNP leadership that the Scottish vote for Remain would be upheld.

I want my faith in the SNP leadership to be restored.  Until very recently, I had a reputation as a leadership loyalist and I would be delighted to become one again.  But enough is enough.  No more words, it's time for action.  We need two things: the date for the referendum needs to be set, and that date needs to be before 31st December 2023.  

From my perspective, there can be no further compromise.  We've waited far, far, far too long already.

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You can catch up with the latest episode of the Scot Goes Popcast HERE.

Monday, June 28, 2021

I'm finally compelled to admit it: the SNP leadership have become the biggest obstacle to independence

A couple of weeks ago, an SNP leadership loyalist on Twitter (I think it was Marcus Carslaw) framed the debate on indyref timing as supposedly being between the official SNP position of holding a referendum in 2023, and the preference of Alba and people like Joanna Cherry for an earlier vote.  That was completely bogus, because there is no official SNP commitment to a referendum in 2023, and if there was, most people in Alba would be reasonably happy with that - our actual fear is that there won't be a referendum at all over the coming five years, and that the mandate will be allowed to expire yet again.  That concern has, to put it mildly, not been allayed by a comment in the Sunday Times' write-up of their new Panelbase poll, which states that people in SNP leadership circles are privately going around saying that there isn't going to be a referendum this side of the next UK general election, which isn't due until 2024.  

There's a stock line in many a courtroom drama where the defence attorney says "do I have the court's permission to treat this witness as hostile?", and I think I've finally reached that point with the SNP leadership.  Until very recently I was genuinely unsure whether they were serious about holding a referendum or whether they were just stringing indy supporters along, but I'm now forced to conclude that it's the latter.  If they were intending to use the mandate for an indyref, they would be doing it before the UK general election. Waiting until afterwards means in practice that yet another mandate would be required, because we know from the experience of the 2017 general election that any seat losses for the SNP will lead to a consensus between the media and the 'caution' wing of the SNP that an indyref is unthinkable for the foreseeable future, which would push it back to beyond the 2026 Holyrood election.  And the balance of probability points towards seat losses, because the SNP won an exceptionally high 48 seats out of 59 at the last general election.  No-one should expect electoral gravity to be defied forever.  Besides which, waiting until 2024 carries the strong whiff of "hoping for something to turn up" that might bring about a Section 30 order - perhaps the SNP holding the balance of power in a hung parliament, which is a 5% chance at best.  (And even if by some miracle it did happen, the SNP's caution faction would then be telling us that "now is not the time" to press home that advantage, because the voters would never forgive us for "playing games".)  We've got to have a more credible plan for bringing about independence than this.

The term "neverendum" was coined in Quebec, and even though it originally meant the repeated holding of referendums on the same subject, what it's instead come to mean in both Quebec and Scotland is endless debate about a referendum that somehow never actually takes place.  The SNP leadership and the Tories are colluding in the neverendum process - they have a shared self-interest in an indyref remaining an apparent prospect, but perpetually just over the horizon. The election that will supposedly determine whether an indyref takes place is always the next election, and when the SNP win each successive election we somehow find out the next day that another election two or three years down the road will need to be won - and that all "grown-ups" and "realists" understand this to be true. 

Here's a thought we need to consider.   Perhaps what "grown-ups" and "realists" think they know most of all is that Scotland cannot and will not leave the United Kingdom.  After all, no integral part of a stable democratic state anywhere in western Europe or North America has become independent since the Second World War.  (Even going a little further back, the only example I can really think of is Iceland's independence from Denmark, and that's a special case given the physical distance between the two countries.) Secession is not part of the 'normal', 'safe' political process as it's practised by statesmen and stateswomen across the democratic world.  We should never forget that our political goal is an intensely radical one - bordering on revolutionary. To bring it about will require equally radical thinking about process and strategy.  Staying within the normal 'safe', 'mature' parameters means staying within the United Kingdom - it's as simple as that.

This is not, incidentally, a call for Nicola Sturgeon to stand down or to be replaced.  Apart from anything else, my guess is that her successor would probably be equally cautious about strategy.  But I do think we now need to be hardheaded about the fact that the SNP leadership have become the biggest obstacle to progress, and if it's pointless to change that leadership, what we'll need to do instead is change the leadership's thinking.  That will require the building up of tremendous external political pressure - both from direct electoral opponents like Alba, and also from non-party organisations like Now Scotland.

Just a word on the Panelbase poll itself - it shows Yes on 48% and No on 52%.  The Sunday Times are portraying this as a significant drop in independence support, which on paper they're entitled to do because the last Panelbase poll had Yes on 52% - but the snag is that previous poll was an outlier.  A week before it was published, another Panelbase poll (commissioned by this very blog) had Yes on 49%, which was much more in line with what other firms were showing at the time.  So it looks to me like nothing much has changed since the election - either Yes are holding steady, or any drop has been very minimal.  There is, frankly, no evidence yet to justify John Curtice's rather odd claim in the Sunday Times piece that there has been a post-election "cooling" of public attitudes towards independence.

Prior to the election, Mark McGeoghegan doused himself in parfum d'obsession and insisted that although he could not prove that the bastards in Alba were to blame for the fact that Yes no longer had a clear lead, anyone who didn't believe that to be the case was a zoomer.  Well, let's be blunt - anyone who still holds McGeoghegan's view is the real zoomer, because Alba have had practically no coverage in recent weeks.  The explanation for the small No lead must therefore lie elsewhere.  Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP leadership quite rightly expected their fair share of credit for building up a sustained Yes lead last year - and it would be equally fair for them to accept the lion's share of the blame for any slight reversal of fortunes that has occurred since.  The most plausible explanation is the complete failure to make the case for independence.

I'll leave you, though, with one piece of very good news from the Panelbase poll: 54% of respondents want a referendum in the next five years, and only 46% don't.

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You can catch up with the latest episode of the Scot Goes Popcast HERE.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Swing against the unionist parties in Murdostoun by-election

I've lived in North Lanarkshire all my life (or rather in places that the Tories creatively reimagined as North Lanarkshire as part of their botched mid-90s gerrymandering effort), but I must admit I didn't have a clue where Murdostoun ward is until I looked it up for the purposes of this blogpost.  It's unusual in that it's a central belt ward in which an independent candidate topped the poll in the last two rounds of local elections.  That pattern continued in yesterday's by-election, and the winning candidate had exactly the same name as before - because he's the son of the late Councillor Robert McKendrick, whose untimely death caused the vacancy.

Murdostoun by-election result (24th June 2021):

Independent - McKendrick: 41.3% (n/a)
SNP: 24.3% (-3.3)
Labour: 16.9% (-6.8)
Independent - Arthur: 8.0% (+5.6)
Conservatives: 7.2% (-5.7)
Greens: 1.7% (n/a)
Independence for Scotland: 0.4% (n/a)
Reform UK: 0.2% (n/a)

I haven't given a percentage change for Mr McKendrick because he's technically a new candidate, but he increased his father's vote share from four years ago by a whopping 13.7%.

A few people on Twitter are suggesting this is a terrible result for the SNP, but I think that's a bit of a stretch - there were clearly unusual local and personal factors in play.  The SNP's vote dropped by less than their two main party political rivals, ie. Labour and the Tories - or to put it another way, there was a net swing from Labour to SNP and from Tory to SNP.  So it's not too bad an outcome, really.  The SNP candidate was Julia Stachurska, who is a New Scot (I presume she's from Poland if her surname is any guide), so even in defeat, that sends out a strong message about the ongoing electoral rights of EU citizens in Scotland.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this is the first time Independence for Scotland have actually stood in an election, because of course they withdrew their planned candidates from the Holyrood election last month and backed Alba instead.  I must say I can't really understand why they're continuing in existence, given that they're in total agreement with Alba on their main policy preoccupations (ie. greater urgency on independence and women's sex-based rights).  I wonder if this result will give them pause for thought, because it's markedly worse than Alba's supposedly 'disastrous' result a few weeks ago.  It does answer one question I had, though - I thought the 'Ronseal' name of Independence for Scotland might in itself attract a few votes, but that doesn't appear to be the case.

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You can catch up with the latest episode of the Scot Goes Popcast HERE.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Will identity politics zealotry on both sides scupper the SNP-Green deal?

First of all, thanks for all the kind words about the podcast with Maggie McNeill the other day.  It turned out to be extremely timely, because as you may have seen in the Scotsman today, the SNP's plans to introduce the Nordic model on prostitution law may end up scuppering the proposed deal between the SNP and the Greens on a programme for government. 155 members of the Green party have written an open letter to Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, citing the Nordic model as one of the main reasons for not pushing ahead with a deal.  If you'd like to learn more about why there is such strong opposition to the Nordic model, you can catch up with the podcast HERE.

But it won't surprise you to hear that the other main objection to a deal raised in the letter is the SNP's supposed "transphobia".  It's difficult to know whether to laugh or cry about this, because whatever position you take on the trans debate, it's beyond all credible dispute that the SNP leadership have come down decisively on the side of trans activism. To still accuse them of transphobia, even after Nicola Sturgeon's notorious "hostage video", even after the treatment of Joanna Cherry, smacks of zealotry and extremism. What more are they supposed to do?  Are they supposed to expel or hound out of the party every single SNP member that holds gender critical views?  Incredibly, it appears the answer is yes.  Dare I say it, some Green members seem to be liberally partaking of the parfum d'obsession.

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Over the last 24 hours or so, I've taken a complete break from moderating comments on this blog - I haven't even read the comments that have come through to my inbox, so apologies if you're innocently caught up in this and are still waiting for your comment to be approved.  I've once again reached saturation point with the whole thing, this time because one of our long-term regular commenters has been having a bit of a meltdown on the basis that not all of his comments have been approved quickly enough for his liking.  The nadir was reached a few days ago when he attempted to post an epic rant that literally accused me of being Stuart Campbell (!).  He also sent me a long email a week or two back that was chummy in tone, but that basically tried to dictate to me what my moderation policy should be - and that just ain't on.  Anyone is welcome to post comments here (well, apart from two or three specific individuals who I've told are not welcome), but whether comments are approved or not is entirely at my discretion.  That's a feature, not a bug.  

I probably would have responded to the email eventually, but finding the time became a bit tricky because the same person continued to attempt to post multiple War and Peace length diatribes every day, and I had to wade through those and decide what to do about them.  To give you a general rule of thumb about the sort of comments that are at risk of not getting through, obviously I have to be careful about anything that may cause legal problems or that contains extreme swearing.  But there's a broader category of comments that waste my time in some way or another, because the only way I can realistically publish them is if I take the time to reply.  For example, personal attacks on me, attempts to troll me, or determined attempts to call into question the factual basis of the blogpost that is being commented on.  It's one thing if stuff like that appears elsewhere on the internet, but if I allow it to appear here without any rebuttal, that can be taken (wrongly) as tacit acceptance on my part that the comments are valid.  So a lot depends on whether I have the time to reply at any given moment, and if I don't, it's not unusual for me to keep a comment in the moderation queue in the hope that I'll have time later on.  But obviously if the comment contains paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of trolling or attacks, there's a much greater likelihood that I'll never have enough time.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about.  I recently wrote a blogpost that pointed out that the SNP had asked voters to use the 2017 Westminster general election to give them a "triple lock" mandate for an independence referendum. The commenter in question posted a long comment - which I reluctantly approved - that falsely claimed that the SNP manifesto did not mention anything about a triple lock mandate, and that he would not have voted SNP if it had.  I politely told him to read the manifesto again - and he responded with another epic comment insisting that he had checked the manifesto and that the words weren't there.  He supplied lengthy quotes as supposed 'proof'.

Here's the thing, though: I actually went to the SNP's manifesto launch for the 2017 election in Perth.  Everyone who attended was given a free copy of the manifesto, and I clearly remember reading the triple lock section while I was actually sitting there.  I didn't have time to set the commenter straight by searching for the manifesto and trawling through it to find the relevant passage, but nevertheless I knew for a fact that he was misleading people.  Was I really supposed to approve, without rebuttal,  a comment that a) was factually inaccurate and b) would have falsely left me looking either deluded or like a liar?  For the record, here's what the 2017 manifesto actually said - 

"Last year’s Holyrood election delivered the democratic mandate for an independence referendum. The recent vote of Scotland’s national Parliament has underlined that mandate. If the SNP wins a majority of Scottish seats in this election, that would complete a triple lock..."

However, by far the biggest problem in recent days has been the sustained attempt to propagandise away the legitimate concerns about the £600,000 that was donated to the SNP's "ring-fenced indyref fund" and that mostly appears to have been spent on other things.  A recurring theme has been "if the police decide to take no action, that means the allegations are baseless and those who have made them must apologise".  My tolerance for that kind of nonsense is practically zero at this stage.  Not all breaches of trust reach the threshold for criminality - indeed the vast majority don't.  What the police do or don't do is essentially irrelevant to the question of whether members' trust has been betrayed in this case.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Scot Goes Popcast with guest Maggie McNeill, speaking about her opposition to the Nordic Model on prostitution law

A few months back there was yet another Holyrood consultation about the idea of introducing the Nordic model on prostitution law - but this one was a bit different from the previous efforts, because it was initiated by the government itself.  Two or three years ago, the SNP changed its policy on prostitution, which it now regards as a form of 'gendered violence against women' that can be tackled by 'challenging men's demand for paid sex' - in other words by criminalising the clients of sex workers and by (theoretically) decriminalising sex workers themselves.  That's the Nordic Model in a nutshell, although for presentational reasons it's instead being referred to as a new 'Scottish Model'.  However, the dynamic may have changed again very recently due to the subtle realignment in Scottish politics - some of the people who were probably most enthusiastic about a change in the law have defected to Alba because of the trans issue, while the ascendancy of people like Rhiannon Spear, and the SNP's nascent alliance with the Greens, should ensure that the case against the Nordic Model at least gets some sort of hearing.  The Greens, as I understand it, favour full decriminalisation of prostitution.

Sex workers themselves tend to be viscerally opposed to the Nordic Model, so to find out why, I spoke to Maggie McNeill for the latest episode of the Scot Goes Popcast.  Maggie has several decades of experience as a sex worker and now writes a popular blog called The Honest Courtesan, in which she has discussed the flaws of the Nordic Model at considerable length.  In the podcast she explains...

* That the Nordic Model deprives women of agency and is thus incompatible with feminism.

* That the Nordic Model has its origins in racist impulses.

* That she cannot relate to the idea that she has experienced "violence against women" by being a sex worker.

* That the supposed "decriminalisation" of selling sex as part of the Nordic Model does not in fact protect women from prosecution in practice.

* That she does not believe the world would be a better place if prostitution is eradicated, even if that were possible.

* That the only practical way of reducing the number of women involved in sex work is not by criminalising their clients, but instead by tackling poverty, and specifically by introducing a Universal Basic Income.

* That Scotland should take the opposite route from the Nordic Model by instead embracing the New Zealand Model of full decriminalisation.

You can listen to the podcast via the embedded player below, via the direct link to the Soundcloud file HERE, or on either Stitcher or Spotify.

Friday, June 18, 2021

The echoes and ghosts of 2017

Although I always want the Tories to lose every election they fight, I had a sense of foreboding last night when it became clear the Liberal Democrats had unexpectedly won the Chesham and Amersham by-election, because the result has a potential 'game-changer' feel about it.  Until now, the Lib Dems had been beginning to look like an irrelevance, and that suited the SNP down to the ground, both electorally and in the sense of staking their claim to be treated by the media as their status as the third largest party in the Commons would warrant.  We know from the experience of the 2017-19 parliament that the BBC and others will leap on any signs of Lib Dem recovery as an excuse to get back into the comfort zone of pretending that the UK has a three-party system - with the Lib Dems as the third party.

The by-election result can perhaps be seen as the Tories' equivalent of what happened to the SNP in 2017 - the moment it becomes clear that a slightly unnatural coalition of support can't hold together forever.  In 2015 the SNP had made dramatic inroads into former Labour heartlands by becoming the undisputed party of Yes voters - and yet they hadn't paid a corresponding penalty in the No-voting areas they had held for decades, like Moray.  2017 was the inevitable belatedly catching up with them, and by the same token the Tories can't really expect to continue to have a clear run in seats like Chesham and Amersham where voters are unlikely to approve of the nationalistic, illiberal and populist message that demolished the Red Wall.  The SNP reacted to their 2017 setback by completely losing their nerve and putting their objectives firmly on the backburner (it appeared that losing Moray was harder for them to bear than losing the prospect of independence) - my guess is the Tories will not make the same mistake.

To return to the subject of the controversy over the "missing £600,000" of donations that the SNP were supposed to have ring-fenced to fight an indyref campaign, in a sense that's the chickens coming home to roost after the strategic error of 2017.  The SNP paid a lot of heed in the aftermath of the 2017 election to the voters that had lost them seats to the Tories - but they forgot to pay heed to pro-independence voters who had, after all, just won them the election on the specific basis that such an outcome would constitute a "triple-lock mandate" for a referendum.  They also paid no attention to the wishes of the people who had donated so generously to the referendum campaign fund - indeed they very cynically did the opposite by scrapping the referendum and spending the money on other things (nobody seems to know quite what).  Exactly the same principle applies to the SNP's core support as it does to SNP-Tory floating voters in Banffshire or wherever - if you take those people for granted, eventually there'll be a penalty to be paid, even if it takes a while to feed through.

The simplest way to sort out this mess is simply to name the date for the independence referendum, even if it's in 2022 or 2023.  People won't mind quite so much about misused/squandered cash if we get back on track for the goal that cash was raised for.  Indeed, if a referendum was called, it would probably be quite easy and quick to raise another £600,000.  Everyone would be a winner - well, apart from the unionist parties.

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Have you signed our parliamentary petition calling for devolution of powers over broadcasting to the Scottish Parliament? If you haven't yet, you can do so HERE.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

The SNP need to understand that independence supporters will not wait forever

A couple of recent comment pieces in The National have caught my eye.  First of all, and most importantly, there's David Pratt's much-praised article today expressing his disquiet that the SNP government have made no progress on independence since their election win last month.  This is highly significant, because David is not one of the usual suspects who have been criticising the SNP for inaction for many years - quite the reverse, in fact.  As I've said a number of times, I genuinely don't know whether the SNP leadership are serious about holding a referendum in this parliamentary term, or whether they're stringing us along.  But if by any chance it's the latter, David's piece should serve as a wake-up call.  It must be easy for them to assume that independence supporters who loyally accepted the logic for delay in 2017, and then again in 2019, and then again in 2021, will always accept the logic for yet more and more delay. Perhaps some will, but most will have a tipping-point where 'good reasons' start to look like excuses.  

My suspicion is that's why certain people in the SNP were so insistent that Alba's setback in the election had to mean the final end for the party and that it should "never receive any coverage ever again".  If Alba survives indefinitely, as it now looks like it may do, it will always be a tempting alternative home for those who reach their own personal tipping-point and decide the SNP aren't serious about independence. The number of those people will just keep growing and growing - until and unless the SNP actually start taking some action.  We were told that three SNP MSPs were ready to defect to Alba after the election if Alex Salmond had been elected.  While it may now be unlikely for them to take that step in the short term, it's far from unthinkable in the medium term, especially if Alba can rebuild some credibility in the local elections next May.

Is the SNP's current excuse for delay good enough or convincing enough? We can see with our own eyes that it wouldn't be impossible to hold a referendum, even right now - we've just held a national election as scheduled, and we're in the middle of co-hosting one of the biggest sporting events in the world.  However, there's a case to be made that it's far from ideal to go ahead with a referendum while the virus is still circulating widely and while the vaccination drive has not yet been completed.  That's fine, but those factors will not apply for much longer anyway.  What is totally indefensible is to argue that there will have to be more delay even once the virus is tamed, because "Scotland must rebuild before holding a referendum". You can guarantee that the rest of the world, including Westminster, will not be putting its politics on hold for several years.  Clement Attlee did not say that creating the welfare state had to wait until Britain had recovered from the war - instead he knew the welfare state was essential to the recovery.

(Note: Stephen Paton specifies preferred pronouns of 'they' and 'them', so out of basic courtesy - not because of diktat from the thought police - I am doing my best to respect Stephen's wishes.  Hence the odd-looking use of language in the remainder of this blogpost.)

Elsewhere, Stephen Paton is continuing to liberally apply the parfum d'obsession with yet another rant about how much they hate Alba.  Which begs the obvious question: if Alba are so "irrelevant", why the need to keep stamping on them week after week? Ostensibly Stephen's article is a call for pluralism within the Yes movement, and yet the subtext is entirely the opposite - that Alba (a moderate, centre-left, social democratic party, let's not forget) should somehow be treated as the equivalent of Siol nan Gaidheal, with no place in the movement whatsoever.  This is of course consistent with the "no debate" line taken by Stephen's side of the debate (ironically) about trans rights.

It's perhaps slightly amusing that people are reacting to Stephen's piece as if they're ('they' meaning Stephen) speaking on behalf of the SNP - because Stephen is, as I understand it, a Green voter.  They even made a video in the run-up to the 2016 election calling for people to game the system by voting against the SNP on the list, in much the same way that Alba advocated this year.

Once again, Stephen trots out the tired old line about Alex Salmond being "the most unpopular politician in Scotland". We should really start calling this nonsense out, because there's simply no evidence to support it.  There are 129 MSPs, 59 Scottish MPs, over one thousand councillors, and many other politicians who do not currently hold elected office.  Stephen is implying that there is polling evidence to suggest that Mr Salmond is less popular than every single one of those individuals - well, if that evidence exists, by all means let's see it.  So far I've only seen polls comparing him to around half a dozen fellow politicians.

Stephen also claims that Scotland is "on the cusp" of independence and that there's no need for anyone to look to Alba when the Yes movement is already so "buoyant". Which takes me back to where I started this blogpost.  Get back to us, Stephen, when the SNP have actually done something to justify the belief that independence might be imminent.

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Have you signed our parliamentary petition calling for devolution of powers over broadcasting to the Scottish Parliament? If you haven't yet, you can do so HERE.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Important message for email subscribers to Scot Goes Pop

I've been meaning to mention this for a while - the email subscription option that is automatically built into blogs on the Blogger platform is being discontinued in July.  In all honesty, I didn't think that was going to make all that much difference to Scot Goes Pop, because I assumed there were only a small number of email subscribers.  In general the only reason I remember there are any at all is that every few months, I get an irate email saying "YOU'RE A DISGRACE, KELLY, PLEASE REMOVE ME FROM YOUR MAILING LIST", and I say "why not just unsubscribe?", and they say "HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THAT?", and I say "there's a link at the bottom of each email" and they say "OH RIGHT DIDN'T NOTICE".

Anyway, I've just checked, and to my astonishment it turns out there are currently 1,422 email subscribers to Scot Goes Pop.  So it looks like this could be much more of an inconvenience to people than I initially realised.  In theory I have the option of exporting the entire mailing list to another service, and I received a marketing email this morning urging me to do that - although whether the firm being advertised is really the best option, I've no idea.  I think what would happen is that everyone on the list would be sent a confirmation email asking whether they wish to continue with the new service or not.

If anyone has any strong feelings about the best way forward, let me know - I'll have to make a decision within the next couple of weeks.

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Have you signed our parliamentary petition calling for devolution of powers over broadcasting to the Scottish Parliament? If you haven't yet, you can do so HERE.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Mebyon Kernow on the up

As the eyes of the world have been on Cornwall over the last few days, this might be a good moment to mention that the Cornish nationalist party Mebyon Kernow, a sister party of both the SNP and Plaid Cymru, did reasonably well in the elections to Cornwall Council last month - it increased both its vote share and its number of seats.

Popular vote:

Conservatives 37.9% (+2.7)
Liberal Democrats 18.5% (-11.3)
Independents 16.3% (-4.0)
Labour 11.3% (+3.3)
Greens 9.1% (+7.1)
Mebyon Kernow 5.3% (+2.0)

Seats:

Conservatives 47 (+1)
Independents 16 (-14)
Liberal Democrats 13 (-25)
Mebyon Kernow 5 (+1)
Labour 5 (-)
Greens 1 (-)

It's not easy for a minority party to win multiple seats under first-past-the-post, and the increase from four to five is even better than it looks because the overall number of seats on the council was drastically reduced for this election.  Sadly, though, in an overall sense the result was probably a setback for Cornish autonomy, because the Tories took control of the council with an overall majority.  The previous council leader had been an independent, and was on record as regarding Cornwall as a Celtic nation worthy of Scottish/Welsh-style devolution.  It's hard to imagine a Tory administration taking a similar attitude.

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Have you signed our parliamentary petition calling for devolution of powers over broadcasting to the Scottish Parliament? If you haven't yet, you can do so HERE.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

All systems go: PLEASE SIGN the parliamentary petition calling for powers over broadcasting to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament

My persistence (and your persistence) has finally paid off - at the third attempt, I've managed to get a petition published on the UK Parliament website.  It calls for the full devolution of broadcasting powers to the Scottish Parliament, and also incorporates my original call for a Scottish entry at the Eurovision Song Contest.  This is a very timely moment to be considering the question of where decisions relating to broadcasting should be made, because the Westminster power-grab is currently being replicated within the BBC's own internal structures - control over BBC Scotland's studios is being seized by London, and since BBC Scotland is but a mere branch office, there's not a damn thing they can do about it.

The new Director-General of the BBC, Tim Davie, is a former Tory politician, and his political views have quite clearly not changed one iota - his notion of "addressing BBC bias" is, ludicrously, to make the corporation even more right-wing and British nationalist.  The chances of it reflecting on, let alone addressing, the catastrophic mistakes it made during the 2014 independence referendum, are now even more remote.

Before starting this petition, I did an internet search for "devolution of broadcasting" and discovered to my surprise that it's recently been a much more live topic in Wales than in Scotland.  There's a hilarious article from last year in which the director of BBC Wales declares himself to be "neutral" on transferring powers from London to Cardiff but then lists umpteen sneering reasons why it shouldn't happen, and not a single reason why it should.  If that's what "neutrality" looks like, the mind boggles as to what he'd be saying if he was opposed to the idea!

If the petition reaches 10,000 signatures, the UK Government will be required to respond to it.  If it reaches 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in the Commons.  (I believe it depends mainly on whether there's been a recent parliamentary debate on the subject, and off the top of my head I've no idea whether that's the case.) To reach those target figures will require a lot more than simply promoting the petition on this blog, so if this is a subject you feel strongly about, please share the petition on social media and let your friends and family know about it.

To view and sign the petition, please click HERE.  As the new Eurovision bigwig would say: you're good to go.  (Incidentally, if you were one of the 21 people who signed on Friday before the petition was checked for publication, your signature already counts.)