Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Scotland's nose-peg election?

It's difficult to know whether to laugh or cry whenever somebody close to the SNP leadership lectures the membership on the necessity of unity and discipline in the run-up to a crucial election that could make or break our chances of independence.  It's like: in that case, would you mind terribly abstaining from petty score-settling against Joanna Cherry, and from introducing highly provocative definitions of transphobia that you know perfectly well are going to enrage half the party, and from treating the man who led the party for twenty years as if he is some sort of political foe?  Can't that sort of self-indulgence wait until the election is out of the way?  

There was a determined (and possibly coordinated) effort on social media a couple of weeks ago to portray an opinion poll showing that Alex Salmond had slightly poorer favourability ratings than Boris Johnson as the death-knell of any hopes of a political comeback for Mr Salmond.  But I think the leadership are in danger of falling for their own propaganda on this one - they've started to think those poll numbers make them fireproof in declaring outright war on Mr Salmond, and they couldn't be more wrong about that.  However the general public may feel, there's still considerable sympathy and admiration for Mr Salmond to be found within the SNP membership.  I suspect I'm fairly typical of SNP members in that I have a high regard for both Mr Salmond and Ms Sturgeon, and think they're both exceptional leaders.  However, if anyone had asked me, I would have advised the leadership not to needlessly force us to make a choice between the two in the way that they now appear hellbent on doing, because they may not like our answers.

That said, it'll only be possible to make a direct electoral choice between Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond if the latter chooses to stand in the May election.  If he doesn't, then realistically the SNP will remain the only game in town for achieving independence.  And Ms Sturgeon herself is highly likely to still be SNP leader on election day.  Wings justifies his "tear the whole house down" attitude by saying it's "inevitable" that Ms Sturgeon will depart and that all he's doing is trying to hurry the process along.  But that's wishful thinking on his part.  From everything I've heard both publicly and privately, Peter Murrell and Liz Lloyd are toast.  But Ms Sturgeon will probably survive because her wildly popular handling of the pandemic will insulate her.  

Someone said to me the other day "Jimmy, come on over to the ISP, even without a celeb politician to hold your hand".  I thought about that for twenty seconds, and although the policy platform of ISP is undoubtedly closer to my own views than the SNP's is right now, I wasn't particularly tempted.  It's not just that I don't think ISP will win any seats - I'm actually not at all sure they'll even exist a year or two from now.  They might well quietly fold in the same way that Change UK did after an election flop (and bear in mind that Change UK was far better financed than ISP and had much more high-profile backers).  Having been a member of the SNP for several years, I don't want to give that up for a party that might leave me politically homeless within a few months.  I want a marriage, not a casual affair, if that makes sense.

What we need to do is ignore the provocations and condescension from the leadership and think about the best interests of the independence cause in a hard-headed way.  We are the foot-soldiers, we are the ordinary people of Scotland, we are the ones who are actually serious about independence and care passionately about making it happen.  There are no career considerations complicating the issue for us.  It may seem strange to quote Peter A Bell at a time like this (or at any other time for that matter) but he's been right about at least one thing over the years - the SNP are our vehicle for achieving independence, and we use them, not the other way around.  Even if we think the party has been hijacked by identity politics entryists, we still have to use them if they're the best option available to us, and especially if they're the only realistic option.  Grass-roots campaigns are important, but they can't do the job on their own - having a pro-independence Scottish Government, and a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament, are absolute prerequisites for realising our goal.

I know there's a snag, though: a party that wins power will claim a mandate for anything and everything that was in its manifesto.  So people who are deeply concerned about the SNP's direction of travel on civil liberties or women's rights may be worried about casting a vote that could be interpreted as a blank cheque.  But I suppose it just depends on how serious you are about independence - are you really willing to consign us all to London rule for God knows how many more years to thwart the SNP leadership on these other issues?

A better idea might be to take charge of how our votes are defined.  In 2005, Polly Toynbee urged Guardian readers to photograph themselves wearing a nose-peg as they cast their votes for Labour, to make the point that they were doing so to keep the Tories out, and not as any kind of endorsement of the war in Iraq or any of Tony Blair's other right-wing excesses.  Perhaps we could set up a 'memory box website' in which people make personal declarations about the meaning of their votes for the SNP.  "OK, you asked me to keep my eye on the prize of independence, and you told me that voting for the SNP was the way of doing that, so I took you at your word.  My SNP vote today is a vote for independence, nothing more, nothing less.  I do not give my consent to any erosion of civil liberties or women's rights."  And the word 'consent' really ought to prick the conscience of the leadership, given its prominent place in the new definition of transphobia.

But what if, say, stopping self-ID really is a dealbreaker for you?  What I would say is that if you vote ISP, don't kid yourself that it's some sort of brilliant strategic way of gaming the d'Hondt system, because it isn't.  You'll be giving your vote to a party that won't win a single seat.  But if you're casting a vote of principle rather than of tactics, it's nevertheless fair to say that you're doing something a whole lot less destructive than voting for a unionist party.  The popular vote will be looked at when judging the strength of any mandate for an independence referendum, and even a vote for the tiniest fringe pro-indy party will help in that respect.  

In the absence of a Salmond-led party, though, the only ways to achieve an indy mandate in terms of both votes and seats will be to vote SNP/SNP, or SNP/Green, or possibly SNP/Wightman.  

*  *  *

If you missed my podcast chat with Dr Tim Rideout of the Scottish Currency Group yesterday, you can catch up with it HERE.


  1. ISP is better than spoiling ballot paper, pauchled SNP list candidates are not.

    Constituency depends on the candidate, some might be worth voting for despite being SNP.

    The SNP are not (at the moment) a vehicle for Independence, the controversial policies will drive us further from Independence.

    1. That attitude will destroy all hopes of independence for the foreseeable future.

    2. I was interested in ISP until English wings 'you cowardly Scottish woke c**ts' started pushing folk look their way.

      Then I thought definitely not.

  2. James, I've asked before and I'll ask again here as your post indicates it as being so, but are there not constituencies where the second vote would be better for Indy if it goes to a Pro-Indy party, such as the far more established Scottish Green Party over ISP, etc, than two-votes SNP? Do you have, or are you aware of, any extrapolated data that indicates this and for which constituencies?

    1. Well, no, as I've always pointed out, questions like that are flawed in themselves, because they're based on a false premise. We don't know who will win in each constituency. We don't know how the list vote will pan out. There are far too many variables to vote tactically on the list - it would just be a shot in the dark, and it could easily backfire.

    2. James
      That’s clearly true. But it’s equally true that we voters have an individual duty to take a look at the ‘probable’ outcome of choosing to vote (say) snp/green. And in many cases the probable outcome will be clear.
      It’s the media duty to tell us clearly how the votes panned out last time, what the polls are indicating, and what might happen with various voting choices.
      Fat chance.

    3. "The only ways to achieve an indy mandate in terms of both votes and seats will be to vote SNP/SNP, or SNP/Green, or possibly SNP/Wightman." You yourself have extrapolated that there are places where you can vote other than 'both-votes SNP'. I therefore find it strange that you refer to my suggestion as being based on a "false premise", and as Donald (above) says, this is actually about projecting likely or probable outcomes to help people to choose which of the preferred pro-indy options they have, for a pro-indy majority.

      Frankly sir, your use of the phrase "false premise" is a strawman! But hey, at least you replied.

      Perhaps you are too wary of making projections and prefer to stick to after-the-fact commentary, which is fine, but if so, please say so, rather than try and put others off the notion with your own "false premise".

      I would have thought that such projections would confirm your view that the ISP would not gain any seats - but do wonder if you are concerned that it might, somewhere, and that may be the real reason for your reluctance.

      And to be clear, I am not party-aligned, I'm merely pro-indy, and want the best pro-indy outcome. But I do find your response on the matter strange and eyebrow-raising.

      As per my email sent before, if you prefer to deal with me in a non-anon way, I am prepared to do so privately, by email. I have genuine reasons for my anonymity.

    4. I've not seen 'other' above 1-2% in any region so far in polling with regional cross-breaks.

      So it's a decent enough assumption at present that ISP will get no seats.

    5. Donald: No, we do not as voters have a duty to delude ourselves into thinking we know the probable outcome. And a delusion is exactly what it would be. In election after election after election, the constituency results have borne little relation to what everyone "knew" they were "probably" going to be.

      Radio Jammor: The fact that you dislike my reply does not mean it was a straw man. I'm not aware of having received an email from you, unless you sent it under a different name?

  3. I suspect the exact shortfall of the SNP regional list vote from the 50% mark will be a major talking point by the Brits after the election. They’re mighty needy for straws to clutch. That one is their best hope of a soundbite.

    If the SNP fall short of the polls and don’t win a majority of the popular vote on the constituency ballots, either, expect to hear all about it in the media for long to come.

    Like it or not, this is a proxy referendum for independence, and the SNP is the independence cause’s proxy as far as the narrative is concerned.

    And I say this as someone who hasn’t ever voted for the SNP on the list. I’ve been Green since 1999, and always got someone elected, starting with Robin Harper. It’s been a good run. But the way they treated Andy Wightman, I’m not inclined to support them this time. I may well “waste” my vote for a party just as factional and ludicrous, which doesn’t even have a hope of a list seat in Lothian. But independence is enough. I want my say in indyref2.

    We sort all this other guff out afterwards. Which is of course what independence allows Scots to achieve: our own solutions for our own problems, forever.

    1. Aside from the civil war, expectation management is going to be the biggest problem for the SNP this time. 2011 was basically the perfect storm from an optics perspective because the SNP surged so quickly from an expected loss to a parliamentary majority; this time, if they fall short of an *electoral* majority (which I suspect they will), it's going to be seen as a bit of a setback.

    2. If we can sort out all the other guff after independence... why has the party that is meant to represent our best hope to achieve Independence not been fully focused on it since England's Britex vote in 2016 and the material change it entailed...why have they been distracted or expending energy and political capital on other issues that could easily be debated and decided after independence?

    3. Well, we only got the Yes majority in 2020, remember. Not the best environment for a lively referendum. It's more the optics at the top of the SNP I dispute than the strategy.

      I wish they would Wheesht for Indy as they'd like the rest of us! The SNP is a flawed vehicle indeed, but it's the one we've got. I usually lend them just my first vote, but this time they're likely getting my second; though that's the Greens pushing me away from them as much!

      Unlike some doomsayers, I don't think we're stuffed if we fail to hold indyref2 ASAP. Independence is a state of mind as much as a movement, and the people who're coming aboard (many of my own friends are former No to Yessers) are here for good. Brexit's not getting any more popular. Labour's nowhere near disrupting Tory rule. And ultimately Scotland is becoming more of its own political culture as time goes on.

      We've still got a nut to crack, given the legal obstacles that will be thrown our way. Nothing is inevitable without our effort. But I'm not panicked that we're at a crucial moment of make or break for a lifetime. If this incarnation of the SNP falls apart on us, we'll have to build another. I'm unconvinced we're at that point yet, not with such hegemony in the polls!

  4. Your piece was going so well until you did the emotional blackmail at the end, James. I will not have my vote held hostage by a party which has done zero work on independence in six and a half years, and which has an authoritarian, identitarian set of policies.
    However, as a member, can you enlighten me as to what action the membership itself is taking in order to rid the party of the entryists and those who are not serious about independence? Because if you're genuine about the movement "using" the SNP to achieve the party's ostensible aim, there must be a credible, workable way for that to happen.

    The unfortunate truth, however, is that Sturgeon and her woke cabal know they have the Yes movement by the balls. We'll blindly vote for them as they're the only show in town. This is why plurality of voice within the movement is necessary. There need to be other parties with heterodox policies.

    This current state of affairs is not good enough, and I will not be voting for the SNP in May, or ever again, unless and until they change their social policy agenda.

    1. Using the term 'woke' pejoratively is classic right-wing.

      It's why you don't hear e.g. Joanna Cherry or Joan McAlpine throwing it around.

      *'alert to injustice in society, especially racism'.

    2. What does gay mean?

      Woke has a specific meaning. Just like SJW. And neither are anything to do with the false left/right bollocks.

      Just admit your are a paedophile apologist who hates women and denies Biological science.

  5. I've read all the main submissions and TBH, it only seems to be Alex Salmond's which attacks people in the SNP, making a raft of very serious accusations.

    Sturgeon didn't attack him in hers, but described him as 'like family' for 30 years and that she'd 'never seen any evidence of sexual misconduct' in all that time.

    I don't personally know either of them, so 'trust' both equally, unlike some who seem to know Salmond like they're his mate of 30 years even though they've never met the man.

    However, Sturgeon's lack of attack, defense of her friend, and honesty about that friendship makes me look at her submission somewhat more favorably if I am to compare the two.

    I asked on the previous thread for a list of SNP MSPs, MPs and even councilors who are in the 'Salmond camp' and agree there was a leadership conspiracy to 'do him over'. Because if there really was such a conspiracy, there must be large group of such people. The existence of such a large group would lend strong credence to Salmond's story. He was and remains a popular figure so if folk think he's telling the truth about e.g. Murrell, then let's see a list of these.

    So who can go on this list? So far I only have an English right winger who calls people who are anti-racist etc 'woke c**ts' and backs the Sun in blaming Liverpool fans for Hillsborough, a former British ambassador who, while seeming well intentioned, does blog about conspiracy theories for a living, and IfS who also calls folk right wing terms such as 'woke' and 'transfans' on my list so far.

    As things stand, I see 7/9 complainers in court as paid up Whitehall civil servants under the direct management of 'London's woman in Scotland' and I can't say I'll be unhappy if she is somehow forced out. Conspiracy or not, she's fucked up grand style and Salmond is right to demand her resignation. However, that is not the SNP's decision as the civil service are not employees of ministers, but of Whitehall. I suspect though that Whitehall will see the folly in not removing her.

    As for my vote, I've never voted SNP for the sake of voting SNP. I've only ever voted for my local SNP candidate because I liked them. I can't understand the concept of blind party voting, especially for totally unknown entities backed by English right-wing blogs. I've voted Margo in the past on the list for this reason; I vote for candidates.

    In May I have an excellent constituency MSP and a great list selection from the SNP. I don't need to hold my nose voting for these.

    1. He correctly blames the liverpool fans who crushed their fellows to death for crushing their fellows to death. The Sun's lie was that liverpool fans were robbing the dead and dying.

      Are you seriously suggesting in the face of all the evidence release at the JR, trial and committee that murrell and her coven had nothing to do with the campaign to see Salmond killed in prison?

      Ruddick promising the police any evidence they need. Evans winning the war. Murrell arranging meetings months in advance then forgetting. A member of her cabinet being an alphabbety and giving RCS a massive reward for continuing the court case after it was shot down in flames.

      None of that matters to you?

      You are well named SS, as you and those like you are the reason why the NSDP managed to take over an entire country wityh minimal real support.

    2. "Murrell and her coven" says the man who doesn't hate women

    3. Wings said clearly on here be blamed liverpool fans for the deaths. This is what the Sun claimed too.

      Is it wrong to promise the police any evidence they need from you in a criminal investigation? Should the police have been told 'We will not help you with any evidence here as he's our colleague'?

      Leslie Evans works for Whitehall not for the SNP. I hope she's forced out.

      Again I ask for the names of all those in the SNP that are backing a party conspiracy against him. If it is true, there must be a lot of these. It's just not remotely believable to suggest that every single SNP MSP, MP etc is in on the plot which is what's required if such a list of Salmond conspiracy backers is not forthcoming.

      Incidentally, in addition to Wings and IfS, google is adding Murdo Fraser in the Scotsman to the list of conspiracy theory backers.

      I can't say this inspires a lot of trust.

  6. Why is Liz Lloyd described by the BBC as 'sturgeon's chief of staff' when Lloyd's relationship to Salmond is his former media advisor then SPAD?

    That's the relationship that matters here; the one between Lloyd and her former boss.

    1. Correct. She is also good friendly terms with the then editor of the Record that published the allegations. Just a co-incidence?

    2. Because she is Murrell's Chief of Staff. She's also the slattern who handed over a photocopy of woman H's slash fiction romance melodrama to her lover at the daily ranger.
      Do you have anything sensible to say or are you going to continue to smear an innocent man in service of your mistress?

    3. Smearer Skier (liar since 2014) says "that's the relationship that really matters here" 不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不不

      Marcia says " she is also good friendly terms with the then Editor of the Record that published the allegations." Crikey Marcia is quick on the uptake then spoils it by asking "Just a coincidence."

      The dumb and dumber of SGP.

    4. Troll keeps trolling. Your repetitive posts under different names suggest that you need counselling.

    5. Linda - see when you are trolling the basics are you say who you are referring to. I suggest you go back to troll school and see if you can pass your level 1 troll exams.

      Linda the dumbest troll yet seen on SGP.

    6. Because she is Murrell's Chief of Staff.

      No she's not. She was Salmond's head of media, then a SPAD to him / his government and stayed in the same position once Sturgeon took over.

      She worked closely with Salmond longer than with Sturgeon as far as I can see. And if she has something personally against Salmond, it must have arisen during the time she worked for him.

    7. Smearer Skier (liar since 2014) - " no she's not" another blatant lie by Smearer.

  7. Does anyone ever vote without a nose peg? It's a crucial part of the kit.

  8. https://www.thenational.scot/politics/19109854.certain-pms-strategy-dont---doesnt-one/

  9. I have been employing nose pegs at every election since 2014 James but no more. I can no longer stomach voting SNP at either the Constituency vote or the list Vote.

    Who is the nameless SNP spokessod?

  10. You don't have to vote for them.

  11. Sums up exactly how I feel James... I will vote for my hard working SNP MSP in Highland... but the list? With a certain Ms Spears on it... no thanks she represents everything that is wrong with the SNP and its priorities at present... so I have joined ISP even though I don't expect them to win without a major figure backing them rather I see them as an opportunity to register a protest vote. I will look at the Greens and see how it looks for them in Highland on the list before I cast my vote.

    1. The Greens have done well in the Highland & Island list before, winning an MSP in 2003 and again in 2016.


      But if you don't like Rhiannon Spear, well, she'd fit in just great in the Greens! Facing a bit of a frying pan vs. fire choice there.

      For the record, I'm quite sympathetic to the trans rights cause, myself. But this( excuse the word) witch-hunt, zero-tolerance hyper-abusive atmosphere in left of centre politics revolving around identity right now is just insane. I'm having nothing to do with it.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Fair points John... I am a 'live and let live' type myself and agree with your last paragraph entirely. My issue with Ms Spears has nothing to do with her stand on Trans rights it is basically to do with the in tolerance that she and others... how shall i term them... rank opportunists bring to the debate.

  14. Facts on previous Scottish Parliament voting numbers, including the regional lists are available on Wikipedia.
    In 2011 both votes SNP delivered an SNP overall majority with 13 list SNP MSPs.
    BUT the 13 were only achieved because the Unionists held on to some constituency seats, so forecasting needs a bit of research and cannot really be relied on.
    In essence to jalouse an outcome you need to know fairly accurately how many constituencies the SNP will win.
    South of Scotland IMO should be SNP1&2.
    I'm inclined towards SNP/Green here in Lothian, though I'll need to know the Greens list is 100% Pro-indy or it'll be SNP/SNP.
    The figures for 2016 give more food for thought but check them out for your own region.
    As for the twa men and a dug indy parties, it's worth noting that Rise got just half of one per cent in 2016.
    Without "Star" candidates they'll just be another wasted vote.

    1. Like you, ramstam, I look on this from a Lothian (Edinburgh east) perspective. We are probs a bit skewed here because of recent constituency successes meaning list votes could realistically be directed at another party and help gain a result.

    2. Here's the situation in the Lothians:


      The Greens have always been elected, since parliament was reconvened in 1999. They won 2 MSPs here, including the superb Andy Wightman, who they recently purged from their party! So Edinburgh is ripe territory for them. This is their strongest region in Scotland.

      Note the strong Tory showing on the list in 2016. They got 3 seats above Ruthie's FPTP win in Edinburgh Central. The UK parties are very competitive in Edinburgh. If the Greens fall short, I expect a red, yellow or blue Tory to take their seat, not the SNP.

      Speaking of which: the SNP has won zero list seats in Lothian since Margo Macdonald left the party. 2011 was a Lothian wipeout for them. Their many list seats in that great tidal wave election all came from elsewhere.

      I'm in Edinburgh West. We have the chance to eject the egregious, slimy (and recently foul mouthed) Alex Cole Hamilton. I relish the chance to throw him out! But he's top of the lib dem Lothian list, so expect to see him come in by the back door even so. That list seat he'll take is one less for the other parties to compete for, including the Greens. The lists are very much a game of musical chairs…

    3. Edit: Margo Macdonald left the SNP longer ago than I remembered. Anyway, the last time the SNP won any list seats in Lothian was 14 years ago in 2007. Their 36% vote on the list just wasn't enough to get them over the divider d'Hondt gives you when you've already won 6 constituencies. (Your vote is divided by 7 in that case.)


      With Edinburgh West and Central clearly within their reach this time, the SNP's list vote may well get divided by 8 or 9 for the Lothain list calculation. I'd be amazed if they managed to get a seat against that!

      But even so, I'm still thinking of voting for them, to send as loud a message as possible that Scotland demands Indyref2.

  15. I will be both votes SNP, but Lloyd, Evans, P Murrell and one other person I cannot name all need to go, within the next few days. NS needs to make an unqualified apology to SNP members and all Indy supporters. She has had more to deal with than is humanly possible in those Covid days and she will be forgiven if she acts now. She needs to root out the entryism and the entryists, and refocus on our main goal, Independence. She needs to do it now. If she does not act now we are not securing the majority we need in the May election. I have sought Independence for over 40 years, and it will break my heart not to secure it, but if we do not get it now we are not getting it in my lifetime.

  16. If I'm honest I'm just plain bored by the interminable inquiry into the mishandling of the allegations against Salmond. There were new rules but HR didn't follow them. Evans was convinced there was substance to the allegations and it went to the police and court (which is where such serious allegations should have gone in the first place) and Salmond was acquitted.

    I get that Alex is hurt and feeling persecuted but he was already a retired politician when this hit the fan. I doubt he will lead a break away party and I probably wouldn't vote that way if he did.

    Obviously if the SNP were to become a reactionary right wing party of the hanging and flogging fraternity then I would quit my membership. As Country Joe and the Fish once said... Everybody has their limits.

    Daffy PC moves on tiny minority issues are a bit Momentum but I don't lose much sleep over them. I do want a pro independence, centre left, green friendly party. The SNP is still that party.

  17. This is what happens when you go all right wing sensationalist, picking out rare evil examples of trans people and dog whistling 'do you trust these folk near your daughter?' while calling objectors 'woke c**ts' and 'transfans / trans cultists' rather than discussing the issue calmly and sensibly, including using dictionary definitions freely.


    Hate crimes related to race fall by a fifth while trans attacks double

    Personally, I don't believe in any innate 'gender identity' based on revoltingly sexist stereotype concepts around male vs female clothing / behaviour / roles / thoughts; there is only biological binary sex.
    However, sex dysphoria is a very real and sometimes very distressing condition. The subject should be discussed in a dignified manner as we seek to make sensible policy around it.

  18. It's no surprise that on the same day reports of Tory leaflets saying a vote for the SNP 'will mean iref2' unionists are attacking the entire 'credibility of Holyrood' as a parliament.

    The 'Holyrood is corrupt and not credible' is the beginnings of the 'British Trump' ((c) Joe Biden) led attempt to undermine and even overturn May's result.

    1. The Lord Advocate is under attack because he will advise on the legality of iref2.

  19. SNP / Salmond looks like the only way to go. Come on Alex lets have a new list party !!!!