Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Let's get real about a plebiscite election - we won't win independence as a bunch of Victor Meldrews wrapped up in petty grievances

I'm away from home at the moment and in a place with very intermittent signal, so blogging will be light for a while.  However, I'm going to struggle my way through a short blogpost because I'm becoming increasingly exasperated - and frankly alarmed - at the willful naivety on display on social media about the idiotic idea that we can somehow afford to be more relaxed about splitting the pro-independence vote at a plebiscite election than we would be at a normal election.  As opposed to, y'know, the self-evident truth that a plebiscite election is a hundred times more important than a normal election and that we will therefore have a hundred times less scope for destructive self-indulgence.

There are no "rules" for a plebiscite election.  There is no neutral arbiter who sets rules that both sides must follow, and the idea that Nicola Sturgeon of all people gets to set rules that unionists will adhere to is just barking mad.  The onus is entirely on the pro-independence side to produce a mandate with enough of a "wow" factor that is very difficult to ignore afterwards.  And yes, that means we have to think about seats as well as votes  It doesn't matter whether that's fair or unfair - it's just the reality of the situation.  However, this shouldn't really pose too much of an additional problem, because getting 50% + 1 of the popular vote is the hard part - as long as we don't do anything stupid, that would generally be enough for a massive haul of seats.  The snag is that some people, for reasons that only they can explain, are advocating doing something very stupid indeed - ie. they want multiple pro-indy parties and candidates to directly compete with each other and split the vote.

Imagine the pro-indy side gets 50.4% of the vote at a plebiscite election.  Although that would be a narrow victory, it would be hard to quibble with, because the conduct of a general election will be beyond reproach and it will produce a high turnout - perhaps not as high as the 2014 indyref, but if it's good enough to elect a UK government, it's good enough for any other mandate.  But then imagine that the 50.4% is split between multiple pro-indy parties, thus allowing unionists to gain several seats.  What side of the equation do you think unionist parties would focus on after the election - votes or seats?  And what could we do to stop them taking that attitude, seeing as unionist MPs would then take their seats at Westminster as the democratically elected voice of Scotland with a mandate to oppose independence?

By contrast, if the pro-indy camp have almost all the seats, we have all the cards to play - including, for example, withdrawing Scottish MPs from Westminster and denying all legitimacy to London rule until the UK government come to the negotiating table.

Let's be honest here.  People may pretend to believe that splitting the vote is somehow a brilliant tactic, but the original tweet gave the game away - what this is really about is a desire to get back to the comfort zone of treating a plebiscite election as a ruse, so we can use it to fight the SNP rather than seek to win our national independence.  Well, count me out of that.  When we look back in a few years' time, do we want to say we did everything we could to seize the opportunity in front of us, or do we want to have been a bunch of Victor Meldrews who were so wrapped up in petty grievances that we invited defeat so we could enjoy blaming others for it?

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We've already seen since Nicola Sturgeon's announcement that the overwhelmingly unionist mainstream media are attempting a 'shock and awe' campaign to try to kill off independence - and the misuse of polling is playing a key part in that.  If you'd like to balance things out with polling commissioned by a pro-independence outlet and which asks the questions we want to see asked, one way of doing that would be to help Scot Goes Pop's fundraising drive - see details below.

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  1. Every UK general election I've voted in has been a plebiscite one. Scotland doesn't have a meaningful representation at Westminster, even for unionists, so Independence is the only policy that matters.

    1. As far as I can see, the last UK general election that could reasonably be considered a plebiscite election was 1997, because that was the last time to date that a major party has sought an outright mandate for independence at a general election.

    2. Every time I vote it is for Independence.

    3. The reason that the last plebiscite election was 1997 is because it predates the reformation of the Scottish Parliament. So it seems to me that a Scottish Parliament election is the more appropriate occasion for a plebiscite election. If, however, the dominant party in Scotland wants a plebiscite election at Westminster, I agree we should accommodate them. I joined Alba to further the restoration of Scottish national sovereignty and if this is what does it, I don’t care who gets the credit (yes, it will be quite insufferable for a while).

      Now, if the Scottish National Party fails to start delivering immediately after the 2024 election, it is incumbent upon Alba to do all in in our power to remove the SNP/Green coalition from government in 2026 and replace them with a government that will do what it says in its party constitution.

  2. Splitting the vote guarantees failure - just look at the history: even in the 'tsunami election' of 2015 the SNP achieved a fraction less than 50% of the vote. (It was 49.97% to be specific). However, including Green voters that year the total was 51.3% - good enough, just.

    So there has to be a 'Yes Alliance' at any plebiscitary election. Even if they are all SNP candidates they need to stand under a banner that is unequivocal in indicating that a vote for YA is a vote for Independence.

    The problem is that Nicola Sturgeon has left this ambiguous: In her announcement of 28.06.22 she said "my party will fight the UK general election" on the single issue of Independence. (See https://www.yes.scot/nicola-sturgeons-full-statement-announcing-the-2023-independence-referendum/). Whatever her intention it needs implies that this is SNP only.

    The FM needs to be crystal clear that it is not 'SNP only' but it is 'YES only' and that there will be a single pro-Independence candidate standing in every constituency under a "YA for Independence" banner.

  3. I am struggling to feel anything but despair at Nicola's latest stunt. I do understand why we need to come together. But look around you. Do you see any excitement , does anyone truly believe we are getting a referendum, or the GE will be used as a plebiscite?

    The good feeling lasted about a week. Then people realised it was just another Nicola ruse. Look at the timing, right before parliament
    recess. It gets her a free pass for the summer. It just doesn't feel right to me, and to be honest I can't be bothered with anymore mibbes aye, mibees naw.

    I don't think we are any further forward.

  4. "Imagine the pro-indy side gets 50.4% of the vote at a plebiscite election. Although that would be a narrow victory, it would be hard to quibble with, because the conduct of a general election will be beyond reproach and it will produce a high turnout - perhaps not as high as the 2014 indyref, but if it's good enough to elect a UK government, it's good enough for any other mandate."

    And good enough for independence regardless of the britnat media, britnat Westminster and any fearties in the Scottish government. Since should Westminster continue to ignore that result and with it Scotland's desire for independence [and, in my opinion, it's a fair bet it will] then the only thing left for Scotland, its government and its people will be to declare UDI.

    Sturgeon's repeated desire to obey Westminster law doesn't exactly fill one with independence fervour.

    The SNP and Scottish government are putting up electoral barriers not to fight behind but to hide behind. But aye, even after all that, I'll still vote for the SNP at the next GE. And don't they know it.

  5. I thought Robin McAlpine's article was brilliant. Making many of the same points that you have made here, James.

    1) Candidates must NOT take their seats. They are not standing as candidates for a Westminster seat. They are standing for independence.
    2) Indy parties must NOT produce a manifesto for Westminster. They can produce a manifesto for independence
    3) All candidates should have a 'FOR INDEPENDENCE' or a Yes logo instead of a party logo on the voting slip. They are not standing for their party this time, they are standing for independence. Ideally you present just one candidate.

    Hold firm to that plan, and we can win.


  6. Absolutely, we need to unite for independence. If we get the vote, and the SNP then squander it, shame on them. But I’ll do my part to make sure they get a mandate for independence in 2024 and have no excuse for delivering anything less.

  7. A fair number of voices out there wishing to have multi-indy parties. They're not true indy supporters. They're agents of the British State and not to be trusted. Every true indy supporter knows that if we are to have any chance of winning this (and that includes in the eyes of the international community), then Scotland MUST work as one like we have never done before. Stop being our own worst enemy. Stop listening to these voices that want to divide us.