Friday, June 10, 2022

No, Anas Sarwar does not look "increasingly credible as a future First Minister" - don't be so unutterably silly

I've been asked by a couple of people what I thought of Mandy Rhodes' article in Holyrood magazine claiming that Anas Sarwar "looks increasingly credible as a future First Minister".  The politest way I can put it is that I thought it was an extremely poorly reasoned piece and an example of the Scottish media at its very worst. I say that with some regret, because Mandy Rhodes has been a breath of fresh air in the way she's fearlessly covered the GRA issue.  But using the bog-standard weasel word "increasingly" to try to confect an appearance of momentum behind the Labour party is fairly typical of what happens whenever the Scottish media get bored with the political status quo and try to weave a narrative of "change is coming"- with the "change" naturally meaning a return to the old comfort zone of perpetual Labour-Unionist domination.  It would obviously be justified if the facts actually supported the notion that we're in the early stages of a changing of the guard, but they simply don't.

Although Labour have managed to reclaim second place in Scottish politics after several years in which they mostly trailed the Tories, they still find themselves a formidably long way behind the SNP.  The average SNP lead on the constituency ballot in the last six Holyrood opinion polls is twenty-one percentage points.  Realistically, if a change of government was on its way, you'd be expecting to see Labour in the outright lead at this stage of the electoral cycle, not twenty-one points adrift.  And even if they were in the lead, you'd still be wondering how likely they'd be to stay there, because it's common for there to be a swing back to the governing party as an election approaches.  The reality is that Labour remain light-years from reclaiming top spot and it's very difficult to see what will change that.  There was certainly not much sign of a looming breakthrough in the local elections last month, when the SNP took slightly more gains than Labour did.

It's true that if Labour win back power at Westminster, there's a possibility that Sarwar could ride on Keir Starmer's coattails and take a few Scottish seats in the House of Commons from the SNP with a 2017-style result.  But remember that even by narrowing the SNP's lead to ten points in 2017, Labour still only won a relatively modest seven seats.  And power at Westminster is a double-edged sword, because it means that the 2026 Holyrood election will take place in mid-term for a Starmer government, by which point voters may be ready to give Labour a kicking.  It could actually make things a lot harder for Sarwar, not easier.

There is, of course, a caveat to all this, which is that the Scottish Parliament is elected by proportional representation, meaning that there could be a unionist majority after 2026 even if the SNP remain the largest single party by miles.  And if there's a unionist majority, it's theoretically possible that Sarwar could replicate what happened recently in some local councils (such as Edinburgh and Fife) by becoming First Minister from a distant second place with support from the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.  The problem is, though, that such a Labour-Tory deal at national level would be much more visible than the equivalent deals in local councils.  It would be noticed by voters and it would destroy Labour's mythologising of themselves as an anti-Tory party.  They were once seen as "the only possible alternative to Tory rule", but after a deal they wouldn't even be "an" alternative to Tory rule. They would be Tory allies, the Tories' path back to influence.

And in spite of Mandy Rhodes' best efforts, this would not be in any way analogous to the informal understanding that existed between the SNP government and the Tories in the 2007-2011 parliament.  The SNP were the largest single party back then, which meant the Tories didn't even have to vote for Alex Salmond for him to become First Minister - they abstained on the vote, as did the Liberal Democrats.  For Sarwar to become First Minister from a distant second place, the Tories would have to actively vote for him.  It would be clearly seen and understood by voters that he was only there because the Tories put him there.  I doubt if Sarwar would be foolish enough to even accept such a poisoned chalice.  If he did, the likelihood is that any government he led would fall apart fairly quickly - but the consequences would linger on for potentially decades.  It would be a "1979 moment" on steroids.

If Labour have any thoughts about becoming the largest party in Scotland ever again, they'll need to win back the Yes voters who abandoned them in 2015 and have stuck with the SNP ever since.  Doing a deal with the Tories would exclude any chance of that for a very long time.  By taking power as Tory allies once, they would ensure that the only way they can ever be in power at any point thereafter is as Tory allies.  It's fool's gold.

Incidentally, Ms Rhodes blasts the SNP over a sense of "entitlement" in criticising the unionist deals that have frozen them out of power in some local councils.  Although I'm not in the SNP anymore, I'm not sure that's entirely fair.  OK, coalition deals are a normal part of any proportional voting system, but they're also a choice that political parties freely enter into.  It's entirely legitimate to hold up a mirror to Scottish Labour and point out that the choice they have made to deal with the Tories rather than progressive parties is hopelessly at odds with the values they have always tried to project, and that voters should draw some conclusions from that.

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  1. Sarwar doesn't convince me of very much at all. But there might be less reason for the media to try to weave a narrative of "change is coming" if the SNP actually did something about independence. They're drifting and running out of steam, and people are increasingly becoming aware of that. If they don't get on with it, then what are the likely end states?

    I suppose potentially everyone voting SNP shifts to Alba, Scotland goes indy because elects a government that actually does something about independence. But at the moment that seems unlikely, much as I'd like to see it.

    The change happens, and it's massively to the Greens? Not impossible, but seems unlikely. Ditto the Lib Dems.

    Scotland suddenly decides its time to go very Tory again? Seems incredibly unlikely.

    For all that I agree it's nowhere near that point in terms of polling yet and its still surely more than 1 electoral cycle away at the least, the likeliest end state on *current trajectory* does seem like eventual shift back to Labour, if the SNP are now just happy to try to maintain their own current status quo.

    I want to see the SNP prove that there's no status quo here and that we're actually moving towards independence, not that they've settled for just trying to hang around as the top dogs in the small devolution pool for as long as they can, before they run out of steam and slip backwards. But they're not exactly giving off vibes of it any more.

  2. " voters should draw some conclusions from that." The conclusion is that being a Britnat party is more important to Labour. Better together never went away. The British Labour Party in Scotland no matter how hard it tries cannae hide its Britnat loyalties. A party of the British Empire that still worships said Empire.

  3. The WGD numpty who loves the Queen, who loves Sturgeon, who loves warships and other assorted weapons of war now declares he loves David Cameron. He says: " I thought Cameron was a fairly decent man,.." He also disnae like Scottish independence marches.

    Yesindyref2 is that person. Also called the Bathtub Admiral. Now that is the sort of profile I would normally associate with a Tory. However, not one of the WGD numpties challenged him about his love for David Cameron - you know Cameron who spouted all those lies in 2014 and failed to deliver on the infamous vow. In WGD numpty land you can be acceptable as long as you declare your love for Sturgeon. It doesn't matter if you are a Tory like the Admiral.

    WGD a Scottish independence site - your having a laugh. WGD/SNP/The National - the triumvirate looking after each other's financial interests.

    1. Hang on a minute! Loves the Queen, loves Nicola, loves NATO, and disnae like Indy marches? Does he/she have a fondness for Pride marches and the French? Have they a spare £600k to spend? I think I know who it is!😂

  4. John Smythe Investigations has this to say about the WGD site: - " You have to hand it to him though he has made posting the same articles over and over again, albeit worded slightly differently, almost into an art form."
    Another reason I call them numpties.

    1. I must say IFS, the John Smythe blog is an excellent addition to the blogosphere when compared to the tired narrative of WHD. He deserves a much wider readership and I would recommend him to anyone interested in the truth about the Salmond affair.

  5. Nasty WGD liar Dr Jim says this about Salmond:- ".... Salmond basically prostrated himself before Nicola Sturgeon...." He also repeated his lie that I was banned from WOS for being a Unionist troll. Jimbo like his idol Sturgeon is a nasty character and a liar. The thing about the numpties is they cannot dispute the points I make so they resort to lies.

    1. Well I watched the Salmond interview and Dr Jim's interpretation can not even be described as a gross distortion. Jimbo is just a straightforward liar who obviously is distressed watching someone who with great ease can effectively present the case for independence and shows up the limitations of Sturgeon. Nice to see Salmond repeating the no ifs no buts promise by the SNP as outlined by James. Salmond is a statesman who obviously wants independence. Sturgeon by contrast is a nasty liar like Jimbo.

      So remind me what is the date of the referendum and where is this mystical timetable? Booking my hols for next year don't want to be abroad when it happens😎😎😎.

    2. Gary Robertson interviewed Salmond. Nasty liar Dr Jim says it was Glenn Campbell and other WGD numpty Bob Lamont says it was Glen. Did these numpties even watch the interview? They cannae even agree if it is Glenn or Glen. How anyone takes these people seriously is beyond me.

  6. The WGD numpties boast that Sturgeon will respond to Salmond as follows: - " so she will answer positively in the negatively neutral non commital definitively totally unambiguous ambiguous non answer".
    That is also the way she has responded to Scottish independence but WGD numpties think this is great.

    1. Whatever her response to Salmond is, it's got to be more animated than her recent interview for the National (that's the National, the Nicola fanzine ffs!) where she couldn't get away quick enough. The contrast between that and Salmond's unflustered, professional performance during a typically hostile BBC interview was there for all to see.

      I say again she has lost all interest in indy (if indeed she ever had any) and, backed into a corner surrounded by her mouldy carrots, her only concern is to get out before the brown stuff hits the fans in the Dughoose.

  7. WGD numpties do not like the independence marches. They have made that very clear for some time. Why, because Sturgeon does not give them her seal of approval. The numpties never ask themselves why does our great leader never organise independence marches but she will go to London for anti Brexit marches and attend Gay Pride marches. Another reason I call them numpties and unsurprisingly they do not like it but they never have any answer to the points I post.

  8. That nasty liar on WGD Dr Jim calls me a Tory but once again yesindyref2 ( Bathtub Admiral ) expresses his hope for a better future for the Scottish Tories:- " The Scottish Conservative party movement towards being devolved at long last from the UK one, seems to be moving in the right direction. "

    Here is the Tory yesindyref2 previously:- " Way more than 50% of the people of Scotland are conservative with a small c, a huge electorate for a decent Conservative party......." A decent Tory party - only a Tory would say that.

    People like nasty liar Dr Jim should look at their own WGD site for Tories posting right in front of their faces. Sadly they are not known for seeing what is staring them in the face despite all the carrots consumed.

  9. “take it Salmond has decided the referendum must be happening to say what he has. Then Salmond will take credit and the independence clock on SGP will bong and they’ll take credit!
    Oh the 2% must be gnashing their teeth over their predicament.”

    Slightly subtle idea, for once, from The Hamster.

    But when Scottish independence happens the Scottish people will take credit. Not a few people who went out with a sell-the-shirts attitude like we saw last night.

  10. Thicko WGD numpty Hamish100 says:- " Lets hope the documentation is the start of ratcheting up of the independence campaign. Timing is everything."

    But but Hamish your fellow WGD numpty Dr Jim claimed there already is a date for the referendum.

    But but Hamish your fellow WGD numpty Alex Clark says there is a timetable and it is on schedule.

    So Hamish do you not read what they say or do you not believe them?

    Numpties thrashing about in the dark as Sturgeon throws them some more carrots.