Friday, September 30, 2022

Angus MacNeil has been proved right by the current crisis: the correct strategy from here is to bring about an early Holyrood election in 2023 and use that as an independence plebiscite

I feel slightly queasy even raising this issue, because it took years and years for the independence movement to convince the SNP leadership of the necessity of having a plebiscite election as the back-up option if an independence referendum proved not to be possible.  Having finally persuaded them of that (some would argue they had to be dragged kicking and screaming to the realisation), it's tempting to just say we shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, because of the fear that opening up a debate about the details of the plan could give them an excuse to back off from the whole thing.  However, hopefully Nicola Sturgeon's public statements on the matter have gone far enough that it would be very hard for her to backtrack (there would surely be hell for her to pay among SNP members if she did), and in any case, sometimes a point is so obviously true that it just needs to be said.

So here goes.  The massive collapse of support for the Tory government across Britain over recent days has been very sudden, but it's unlikely to be fully reversed unless Liz Truss is ejected by her party or forced to step down.  That means the ongoing chaos will probably work against us if we use the next Westminster general election as a de facto plebiscite.  The media narrative will be overwhelmingly about change via a majority Labour government, which will seem like a novelty to voters after fourteen years (remember that some young voters won't even be able to recall living through a Labour government).  That will make it very hard for the independence message to get a look-in.  Now, it doesn't necessarily follow that Scottish Labour and their media allies will get the result that they've spent the last few days self-indulgently and very publicly fantasising about, but here's the thing: they don't actually need to win a majority of Scottish seats - or even get close to that - to throw a spanner in the works of a plebiscite election.  They would just need a 2017-style result with a moderate percentage of SNP supporters drifting across, which is entirely conceivable given that the "prize" (ahem) of a Labour government would be just 24 hours away.

By contrast, if the SNP bring about an early Holyrood election in 2023 and use that as a plebiscite instead, the Tory chaos suddenly works firmly in our favour.  If you vote against independence in that election, you're voting for extremist Tory rule to continue with no guarantee that the polls in England won't turn around over the following year.  The onus will be on Anas Sarwar and others to make the case for continued Tory rule and then a massive gamble thereafter.  With no Labour government imminent, it'll also be easier to persuade voters to keep a proper sense of perspective and to bear in mind that, even if Starmer does become Prime Minister in 2024, the norm in Britain is Tory rule with only occasional interludes of Labour government, which is generally centre-right in character anyway.  In a nutshell, the argument set out in the tweet below would resonate far better in a Holyrood plebiscite election than it would in a Westminster plebiscite election.

And then of course there is the obvious advantage of using a Holyrood election that would apply irrespective of the current crisis - the fact that it's a 'home fixture'  in comparison to a Westminster 'away fixture' and that there'll be no struggle to get the media to focus on Scottish issues.

Are there any disadvantages?  Well, there are maybe two.  There's the two-ballot nature of Holyrood elections, which might make it harder to define what a mandate for independence actually looks like - if we win a majority of the popular vote on one ballot but not the other (as happened last year), we might not actually know whether we've "won" or not, and unionists would be unlikely to concede the point.  On the plus side, though, the fact that it's a proportional representation system means that we wouldn't have to worry so much about the danger of vote-splitting, as long as the smaller pro-indy parties confine themselves to only standing against the SNP on the list.  (But to be clear, the problem of vote-splitting wouldn't necessarily be totally non-existent, because any party needs at least 5% of the vote in at least one region to ensure that its list votes aren't 'wasted'.)

Then there's the precedent of voters punishing governments that call 'unnecessary elections' - witness for example the fate of Theresa May in 2017.  The current SNP leadership are notoriously and almost excruciatingly risk-averse, and I'm quite sure this is the main reason they prefer using a scheduled Westminster election to an unscheduled Holyrood election.  But the reality is that any sort of plebiscite election is in itself a risk - there are monumental downsides to setting yourself a target of 50% in a Westminster plebiscite election and ending up with 35%.  So what you have to do is choose the least risky of the two risky options, and in my view that clearly means a snap Holyrood election.  It can be justified on the basis of a Supreme Court judgement that leaves Scotland with no option but to take extraordinary measures to ensure its democratic voice is heard.

(Note: Before anyone claims that it's impossible to call a snap Holyrood election without a supermajority in the Scottish Parliament, it would actually be pretty easy to engineer.  If the SNP-Green government resigns, there would be no viable alternative government on the current parliamentary arithmetic, and an early election would inevitably follow.)

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  1. The MacNeil plan is certainly the way to go.
    Unfortunately, we all ken it isnae going tae happen.
    The heir apparent, Angus Robertson tweeted yesterday and let the moggy oot the poke.
    Robertson pointed to polling this week predicting a Westminster, Labour government with a substantial majority and total decimation of the Tories. Robertson was crowing that the SNP would be the official opposition in Parliament.
    That folks is the grand game plan. All that short money plus the bulk of the £2m “policy development grant” money distributed by the Electoral Commission.
    The constitutional status of Scotland remains in permanent stasis and the big, yellow gravy bus trundles ever onward.

    1. Hard to disagree with your comment. The SNP are no longer the party of independence, they're the party of power.

    2. Robertson - just another SNP Britnat masquerading as an independence politician. There is Tory scum and then there is scum like Robertson - oh wait a minute Robertson said we should not call Tories scum.

    3. Very British Labour to deliberately misunderstand what people say or the tone they use when they say it
      It seems to be the trend when attacking the SNP to redefine the meaning of every word then spit out the new definition
      That's very Tory
      Politics for the losers never seems to change, especially when those losers refuse to accept the reasons they lose so invent unpleasantness as their next weapon
      That's very Liberal Democrat

    4. The Bathtub Admiral on WGD says Robertson has a secret plan
      ( he then proceeds to say what it is - not a secret anymore then is it ya numpty). In summary, his plan is for the SNP to be the majority party in Westminster and then make Scotland independent. The rubbish these numpties will spout to try and square the circle of SNP words/actions that show they have no intention of delivering independence. Only a numpty would think up this nonsense and only a numpty would think Robertson was not involved in the persecution of Salmond and there is a very high concentration of numpties on WGD.
      The Bathtub Admiral worships Royalty, worships weapons of war and worships Sturgeon.

  2. Why only the one step analysis ?. What happens after a YES vote ?.
    If a Scottish election is used then you are dealing with the current Tory regime. They will use the subsequent fall in Sterling (10-20%) as a rallying call of the English population against Scotland and who knows what batsh#t crazy actions they will carry out.
    If its a general Election a likely incoming Labour government with the prospect of a Sterling crisis is more likely to make a deal with the Scottish government.

  3. Now probably isn't the time - we need a stable 52% - 55% YES lead otherwise we'll not have the credibility to shout victory even if we win. Moreover, the SNP is not gunning for it - bunch of anonymous bores these days.

    1. If now isn't the right time, with the UK state in total meltdown, then there will never be any such thing as the right time.

    2. At this moment the SNP vote will be hit by high flying Labour but in 6 months time, maybe

    3. Labour still won't win in England

  4. Ca canny will be the familiar refrain :)

  5. I regularly posted in the run up to the Scottish Parliament election in May 21 that a real party of independence would use this election as a de facto referendum for Scottish independence. Numpties would thank me for being correct by stating I was a Unionist. Just how much more evidence do these numpties need to see that the SNP leadership are all devolutionalists who are just stringing independence supporters along so that they can keep their cushy jobs.

    All those "now is not the right time" people - numpties like Irish Skier and his Ski slope graphs- always think the next year will be better. It's really code for doing nowt.

    Anyone remember Sturgeon before the May 21 election saying give me a mandate for a referendum and then I will ask the Britnat Supreme Court for permission to proceed. Of course not. Some numpties posting on here were sure a referendum would take place in the second half of 21 once the election was won.

    WGD used to say that using an election as a de facto referendum will never happen and is all wrong. Now he tells his numpties that Sturgeon must be correct in her approach in planning a UK GE de facto referendum if a UK court tells Sturgeon a referendum would be illegal. The WGD sheeple just follow on with their u - turn.

    Wake up - you numpties are an embarrassment.

  6. WGD numpty jfngw is brave enough to admit to voting Labour in the past.

    This numpty also quite correctly points out that the Tories are just taking the power to implement policies that they have no mandate for from their 2019 manifesto. jfngw says: " If manifesto changes can just be made up on the hoof why do the SNP not just say the last general election was a vote for independence based on seats, its as democratically sound as the current Westminster PM's position."

    Indeed jfngw why not? The answer is simple jfngw - they are devolutionalists and do not want independence.
    Did Truss say let's check with the UK Supreme Court to see if it is alright - no she did not because the UK is a shithouse of a country with no democracy for Scotland.

  7. Remind me please. Do 16 & 17 year olds get to vote in a Scottish general election?