Thursday, April 14, 2022

So what WAS the thinking behind the SNP's notorious "and for no other party" leaflet?

I'd just like to draw your attention to yesterday's column in The National by the chair of the Alba Party, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, in which she expresses her astonishment at the now-notorious leaflet and letter that the SNP have been sending out, urging people to "ask their friends and family" to only rank SNP candidates and "no other party".  I'm still trying to make some sense of what happened, because even from the SNP's narrow partisan interest, the message seems utterly self-defeating.  Imagine you saw a TV advert for Travelodge that told you to "never stay in any other hotel", or an advert for Twix that told you to "never eat any other biscuit".  Would those brands become more attractive to you, or would you just think you were viewing the last days in the bunker?

It was fascinating that the message was totally contradicted a day or two later by the controversial SNP MSP Emma Roddick, who wrote a lengthy Twitter thread correctly urging people to use the "vote til you boak" strategy in the local elections - meaning that you rank as many candidates/parties as you feel you can bear to.  She obviously knew she was repudiating her own party's letter and leaflet (even thought she didn't mention them directly), but the million dollar question is: was she speaking only for herself, or had she been urged to post the thread by a leadership that knew a terrible mistake had been made?  In other words, was the letter and leaflet the work of some naive and over-excitable interns, and had it slipped through the net in a catastrophic failure of quality control?

When I praised Ms Roddick for her thread (quite possibly the first and last time I'll ever praise her for anything), she became deeply uncomfortable, probably because she saw that I'm an Alba member, and in the hysterical McCarthyite atmosphere currently gripping the SNP she regarded it as vital to distance herself instantly.  She made two points of supposed 'clarification':  a) she's not part of the SNP leadership, and b) she would "boak" before reaching Alba on the ballot paper, if there was an Alba candidate in her ward.  The latter point isn't especially important, because it doesn't change the fact that her thread was 100% correct about how the STV voting system works.  Exactly where and when a voter "boaks" is very much an individual thing.  That said, it was a fascinating insight into Ms Roddick's own mindset as a supposedly pro-independence parliamentarian, and raises the obvious question of whether she would rank unionist candidates ahead of pro-independence Alba because she regards identity politics issues as more important than independence.

As for the point about her not being part of the SNP leadership, that was a statement of the obvious but it was also very carefully worded.  It doesn't exclude the possibility that she was speaking at the leadership's urging.  She's known, after all, as one of the darlings of the leadership, and it would be startling if she ever spoke on questions of electoral strategy without their blessing.

Another possibility is that the message on the leaflet was the work of the leadership, but they hadn't anticipated the fallout from it.  Because it was apparently only sent out to SNP members, former members and people who had at some point donated to the party, the leadership maybe thought they could get the "no other party" message to spread by word of mouth, while keeping it deniable by not putting it on leaflets aimed at the general public.  If so, that was extraordinarily naive.  There are enough former members who are alienated from the party that the message was bound to become publicly known within about fifteen seconds of it landing through people's doors.

As has been pointed out many times, the SNP telling its voters not to use lower rankings on other pro-independence parties will not help SNP councillors to get elected.  Literally the only effect it will have is to make it easier for unionist candidates to get elected at the expense of the Greens and Alba.  So if the message on the leaflet was leadership-approved, the only rational conclusion to draw is that they think it is strategically important that non-SNP representation in local councils should be as unionist-dominated as possible.  That would make no sense if it's really true, as the likes of Paul Kavanagh believe, that the SNP are serious about holding an independence referendum next year.  If that was the case, you would want as you head into a referendum campaign to have as many pro-independence elected representatives as possible, and as few anti-independence elected representatives as possible.  But it might start to make a sort of perverse sense if the strategy is instead geared towards a world in which the SNP have privately decided that a referendum isn't going to take place for the foreseeable future, and in which they're just trying to maintain their own power within the devolved settlement beyond 2026.  Looked at in that way, paranoid fears about Alba winning a modest number of local council seats have a kind of logic, because 'great oaks from little acorns grow'.

In other words, if the messaging in the leaflet was intentional and properly thought through, it indicates that the overriding strategic objective of the SNP in these elections is not to bring independence closer. It's instead to try and ensure that a fellow pro-independence party is "strangled at birth", to borrow the ugly words Cyril Smith famously used about the nascent Social Democratic Party in 1981.  Readers must decide for themselves whether they want to have any part of such a breathtakingly cynical and self-serving project.

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To catch up with my Scot Goes Popcast interview with Alba candidate Lisa Keogh, please click HERE (video version) or HERE (audio only).


  1. I am of the firm belief that your latter conclusions about it being leadership led, and protecting their hegemony in Scotland rather than any desire to launch a genuine independence campaign is the only conceivable answer.

    The longer this SNP leadership is in place, the more remote the possibility of an Independent Scotland becomes. Every day that passes makes it that bit more challenging to overcome the 7 years of lethargy (or cynically, self promotion, aggrandizement, and money making) that has become the legacy of Nicola Sturgeon's SNP.

  2. Credible reason advanced here:

  3. James you quite rightly say
    "That would make no sense if it's really true, as the likes of Paul Kavanagh believe, that the SNP are serious about holding an independence referendum next year. If that was the case, you would want as you head into a referendum campaign to have as many pro-independence elected representatives as possible, and as few anti-independence elected"
    but only if you wanted to win that referendum, which I have no doubts whatsoever, Sturgeon doesn't.

    1. Independence For ScotlandApril 14, 2022 at 8:23 PM

      Bob, as one of the first to record that Sturgeon is The Great Betrayer your comment as ever is spot on.

    2. She doesn't want to lose the referendum either; she doesn't want that blot or her CV. Perception, not outcome, is what matters most here.

      Safer to say you wanted to have one, claim you were thwarted, and flee the scene to your new job.

  4. If the SNP really are serious about independence then they've got to get their heads in the game and recognise that the whole softly-softly gradualism has gotten them about as far as it ever will. They are deluded if they think they're on some ever-increasing trajectory to infinite popularity, if only they'd just wait long enough.

    A significant chunk of the electorate are never going to vote for them, not in a million years, no matter what they say.

    A significant chunk of their vote is soft-Yes at best and more likely soft-No-but-don't-like-Labour-or-the-Tories, and that chunk is beginning to tire of the SNP as the political failures begin to pile up, as they do for all parties in power for a long time.

    And the most significant chunk of their vote is the core Yes vote, who are equally beginning to tire of the SNP as they become increasingly dispirited, disillusioned and fragmented by a party that seems to have become ashamed or at least uncertain of it's supposed raison d'etre.

    There's nothing much on any side that says there's scope for the SNP to keep finding more votes: only fewer. If they're happy winning Holyrood elections by traditional pre-SNP surge slim margins, they can probably do that another couple of cycles yet, but they'll find it pretty difficult to do anything they want to in weaker positions. I find it impossible to believe that there are going to be multiple further cycles of close to or over the majority line big wins, so if they want indy they need to GET ON WITH IT.

    That's what's so infuriating about the council stance here (and at last Holyrood election) - it's with the other pro-indy parties that the indy message is strengthened, not weakened.

  5. Independence For ScotlandApril 14, 2022 at 10:45 PM

    We need to do the right thing in learning to live without the SNP.

  6. Independence For ScotlandApril 14, 2022 at 10:57 PM

    James, your anti- fans on WGD, Hamish 100 and Irish Skier, have posted devastating intellectual critiques of your article.

    Naw only joking - these WGD numpties can only say 1) why are you not criticising unionists and 2) misrepresent Alba policy on local gov election voting. Well when I say misrepresent it is the mad liar Skier so really it is just lying.

    1. It seems that censoring other parties isn't enough. They still have to talk about them.
      Wouldn't it be better if they went with relatively positive stuff like, oh, the financial affairs of the Aitken household (as set out in today's Herald)?

  7. The dissonance is strong in that one!! (Roddick)

  8. Sturgeon nawbag party has made an accommodation with the union where they are the devo colonial administrators with cushy jobs for the boys and fancy future international talking shop careers for their vain leader.

    All internal dissent against this de facto policy (cherry, NEC appointments) must be quashed as must all external dissent (keatings and of course the real threat of real yes Alex salmond in the form of Alba must be extinguished at all costs).

    They aren't prepared to admit this accommodation so have ludicrous independence strategies that fall apart under even the most rudimentary examination.

    Anyway, for real yes supporters you should not be ranking SNP anywhere on the list or opportunist greens for that matter. I certainly won't be.


    I doubt we will see Sandy Brindley of Rape Crisis Scotland on tv talking about what Grady and Gibson got up to.

    I doubt you will read anything about them on WGD above or below the line on WGD.

    1. But what you can read is Skier's moral address for Easter:

      "Unfortunately, Wings developed a habit of lying. Such as peddling grand conspiracies about how everyone in Scotland right down to the till lady in Tesco were perjuring themselves to further Sturgeon’s career for some reason, to those huge porkies about the FM breaking the ministerial code multiple times when that never happened. This type of stuff destroyed trust in Wings, and that’s before his rabid, daily mail style dog-whistling opposition to trans people having the same rights as LGBH in being allowed to self-id as trans (as e.g. heterosexual people etc just have to self-id as that and it’s not questioned, and they are not forced to prove it somehow)."

    2. Independence for ScotlandApril 17, 2022 at 8:03 PM


      THE MAD LIAR - who else but Irish Skier. I note on WGD Skier has been saying that as he has not seen the notorious leaflet it therefore does not exist. " I increasingly feel I've been lied to again." Subsequently after being told by others such as Indyref2yespleasenicola ("Nobody is lying to you.") that it is being sent out by the SNP and he is not being lied to mad Skier then claims he was just playing Devils advocate. This is the sort of stuff the mad liar used to come out with on SGP but is now repeating on WGD. In summary, you cannot trust a word he writes. When caught lying he claims he was just playing Devils advocate.

      I repeat this mad liar Irish Skier post just for laughs " Sturgeon is getting quite influential on the world leaders circuit." 😂😂😂

      THE CONFUSED LIAR - who else but Dr Jim. Jimbo says " If you're not a member of the SNP then you didn't get them, there's nothing sinister about a political party talking to its members, ........" Now I have just returned from two weeks holiday and what do I find in my mail. The campaign begging letter from Sturgeon asking for a donation and instructing me to vote SNP 1 2 and no other party. So Jimbo after more than 50 years a member of the SNP you are wrong again because I ain't an SNP member. The SNP have not had any money from me for years but have the cheek to tell me who to vote for and even worse request me to ask friends and family to do the same.

      "Devious, dishonest, sleazy, self serving, and incompetent." This is the first sentence in Sturgeons letter and I couldn't describe the SNP leadership any better.

      Jimbo also continues to be confused about Indyref2. He says: " The FM announced the referendum date and still the bitter brigade invent nonsense.......". What date? Of course Jimbo doesn't actually state the date he is sure exists. It seems to exist only in his mind.

      THE CHARLATAN - the big dug himself. " ....., Ross has joined them, which means that he knows what Johnson has done and how he has behaved is beyond the pale but he values his own job and his own position more than he values those principles which he so loudly proclaimed not so long ago. That is the very definition of a charlatan."

      Mr Kavanagh knows what Sturgeon has done so he has no need to switch on the TV or read about Ross to identify a charlatan he just needs a mirror.

    3. I've expressed the view before (only partially in jest) that Skier and Mme Skier are in fact the same person. His obsessive pursuit of ladies toilets he can infiltrate, coupled with his fantasy life on so many other levels, leads me to suspect that Skier dons the stockings and suspenders on a regular basis.

  10. Now I tend to agree with a lot of the content of the big dug's articles but his current article has taken nicophancy to stratospheric levels.

    " ....the Russians must have singled out Nicola Sturgeon for a different reason, because they genuinely believe that she is a threat to Putin's interests......"

    " In Nicola Sturgeon Scotland has a leader who has international heft and clout and who has the moral and political authority to influence public opinion across the whole of Europe....."

    Now Mr Kavanagh is entitled to his opinion but this is not it. He expects us to believe Putin is shaking in his boots because Sturgeon disnae like him. This is the person who failed in her attempt to stitch up Salmond for a jail sentence going up against the person who just kills or actually does jail his political opponents.

    Utter tripe of an article from the charlatan.

    1. Putin has most of his billions in Brit offshore tax haven accounts dude. The root of all evil on the planet is Brit Tory Capitalism. Putin is an intimate friend of CITY OF LONDON Brit Capitalists and no friend of of an Indy Scotland.

  11. I am pleased that Kirsty man hater Blackmans and her man hating wokist Roddicks pal is not standing in the Council Elections here in Moray again. The word Indy would make them sick.