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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  1. Nope, I expect to see iref2 within the next year or two or I'll be seriously considering looking elsewhere (probably not Alba as it seems too GRA/loos obsessed for me).

    Unless the bottom falls out of indy support / I'm totally wrong on what I've said about baseline. Then I might give a wee bit more grace period depending.

    1. I think it was you who said a couple of weeks back that you expected Scotland to be independent within a year. Was that a joke?

    2. You'll be looking elsewhere then.

    3. @Keaton.

      You'd need to link to me saying that, although I might have said something like that tongue in cheek. We might vote for indy on such a timescale, but actually exiting will take a few years.

      In my post above I state 'I expect to see iref2 within the next year or two' which is exactly the position I've held for quite some time.

      But then I'm not full of myself and know it's possible I could be totally wrong about my interpretation of the data and baseline Yes / how the SNP are seeing things. I think it's pretty unlikely based on decadal trends that we are not over the line (or on it), but I can't rule it out. If Yes support plunged and the probability was a loss, I would consider holding on an iref for a bit if that made sense (e.g. events were making Scots want to wait). If we hold an iref and lose, then it's likely another parliamentary term before we can get another mandate/shot. I think it's better to wait 1-2 years for a Yes if that makes sense that rush in early only to lose and have to wait 5-7 for another shot.

      And I base my thoughts on polling data. If that's all just rubbish, then this site has little point!

    4. Same old excuses, same old feeble 'we have to wait for the voters' line. Clearly you have no faith in anybody in the sNP doing anything about persuading the voters, demonstrating by example, building the case and debating it. Quite right, because they have done none of those things, and have refused to have it debated at their conferences. They have actively put off people in the centre ground with their actions. So now we must 'wait', while the numbers continue to drift.
      New, fresh leadership is required by people who can articulate the case and make it with vigour, instead of hiding away and focussing on their pet projects.

  2. I think the passing of an IndyRef2 bill should be timed so that any UK government challenge has to occur in the month leading up to next year's local elections. They only gave themselves 28 days to challenge Holyrood legislation; let's use that in our favour.

    The deadline to get the ball rolling for that is somewhere around September or October.

  3. I'll be voting Alba in the local elections next year.

  4. The SNP is a gutless bunch I'm afraid - not a nationalist party at all - it's the S IWBNITBWJGITUS P Scottish 'Indy-Would-Be-Nice-If-The-Brits-Would-Just-Give-It-To-Us Party... you never know, Sturgeon could get that gender reassignment surgery she seems so keen to promote and suddenly grow a pair. I doubt it. Oh, you never know... but Alba won't have the slightest effect on the current half-hearted SNP management, unless it looks like the SNP will be cut to bits by Alba and that ain't happening. YET, should the SNP start polling at 58% again then they'll do it but otherwise indy will disappear into the ethereal political mists.